I was a born food enthusiast and blogging came much later. Blogging about food started when social media started accepting my views on exploring food places to be legit. So, for the past half-decade it has been a way of life for me to follow food trends, food places; and check out new places if they interest me.
For the past few years, as far as I have understood, food trends were totally based on what the seller wanted the buyer to see. Probably, create hype around the product for people to notice the place or the product and possibly convert them into a buyer. If nothing, it was a brand awareness activity. Say for example, the fuljar soda. Drinking carbonated drinks regularly yield no health benefit but yet, this drink was popular for the way it was presented to the customers. The presentation imitated a Jägerbomb and people couldn’t stop posting about it.
The pandemic taught us all a very precious lesson: that we all learnt as kids but forgot as adults. It taught how it is important to stick to your roots. Locked up for months together with minimal resources available, made most of us think of productive ways to keep ourselves mentally stable. There was hardly anyone who would have escaped the fad of Dalgona Coffee that went viral during the initial days of the global lockdown.
Recipes from everyone’s kitchen with a tutorial of how to make it; took over social media. Food/Recipes were undoubtedly the second most trending words during the first couple of months; the most trending word obviously being ‘The Virus.’ The food blogger in me had nothing much to do but post about my recent Madurai visit just before the lockdown. People were petrified from ordering food from outside the home. The fear of the unknown totally consumed all of us. Time was moving very slowly. I was moving about during the COVID-19 lockdown and I could see clearly that there were no takers for restaurant food at that point of time. The industry was trying to be normal and many people put a lot of efforts to continue to survive if not excel. Haleem, which is always the most trending food item during Ramadan, did make its appearance. The top players made sure it was available throughout and also delivered it to those who ordered. To keep themselves sane, a few restaurants started working around seasonal products like mango and jackfruit and these fruit-based delights were trending for some time.
The market actually started to change when the restrictions over bakeries were lifted. At least, that’s when I started seeing people being more open about ordering takeaways or opting for ordering-in. When the world was running towards a brownie obsession, I decided to check-in with my usual places: the places that have made the Chennai Food Scene what it is today.
Be it the Bun Butter Jam from Gopal Diary, or Kari Dosai from Kattayan Chettiar Mess, or Samosas and Jalebies from Bombay Lassi or even the infamously famous Fish and Prawns Fry from Sundari Akka Kadai; everyone started bouncing back in their own way.
Social media saw a surge of home chefs who came forward and began selling food items from their home kitchens. A variety of cuisines were being offered ranging from Kongu Nadu to Andhra to Kerala. Kizhi Parottas were in the limelight for the longest time. Do-it-yourself kits were the selling point for many restaurants to make the customer feel like they were at the restaurant when they were dining in their respective homes.
This goes to prove without saying that no flood, cyclone or even a pandemic can stop us from getting our favorite foods. We will adapt according to the situation but will never let go of our food traditions and love for everything culinary. It’s the true Chennai spirit that we all carry.