Being the typical Bengali I am, I must say, if there are two things I miss when I am not in Calcutta, they must be Rosogolla and Phuchkaa. Prosenjit potboilers, traffic jams and mawkish maidens finish a close third, fourth and fifth respectively. However, looking from the right perspective, the only element that surpasses the Bengali’s love for all things cultural is his inexorable appetite. Therefore it is no surprise, you see.
When you ask the random non-Bengali (to be kept in mind that for Bengali’s the planet is divided into two broad categories: Bengalis and non-Bengalis), he might also profess a certain love for the above-mentioned delicacies. But can he match the gourmet of a compulsive Bengali? Not by a long shot.
For example Nalini Das rosogolla is very different from a Bhim Nag. What Sen Mahasaya dishes can hardly be the same as what Haldiram makes. It has to be spongy, at the same time soft, must be a mouthful, but never a inch more, and should possess the ideal proportion of saccharine and syrup. A rosogolla that doesn’t meet these requirements can be served to uninvited guests, but never in your daughter’s wedding. Of course the most important prerequisite of a delicious rosogolla is that, there should another one in the offing!
If Rosogolla is a fine movie, then Phuchkaas must be a thespian’s delight. For like good theatre, its magic flickers out each evening and has to be rekindled again the next. The ubiquitous Phuchkaa-walas can be found in almost every crossroad, but that doesn’t mean good Phuchkaa. The good Phuchkaa has to be diaphanously crispy, must contain the optimum amount of fillings, and be delectably huge! However, there still remains is what can make or break a Phuchkaa, the teetul jol : tamarind water, in rough translation. A celebrated phuchkaa-wala would never reveal the ingredients of his teetul jol, and maybe, rightly so!
For me that’s the last word: phuchkaa and rosogolla! Nothing more!