The event was unique. The gathering was huge. The music unifying. And the message clear – Local is Cool, Cooking is Fun.
The Mei Ram-ew ended on a high-voltage note when young and old visitors to the Mei Ram-ew were treated to the unique Disco Soup – where Chefs and volunteers cut, chopped, danced, and cooked Soup to high-wattage contemporary music accompanied by over five hundred enthused youth. The resulting concoction – a hot, tasty soup held all the flavor and punch of the joy of cooking together.
What added spice to the occasion was the presence of celebrity youngsters Harshvardhan Bhan (Winner of the Channel V Footloose), Sajan Singh (Top Ten of the Dance India Dance, Season 2), b-girl Shilpa Thapa from New Delhi and Kapil Kalyan from Jalandhar. The group who had come to Shillong for a dance workshop at the Ministry of Dance dropped in for the Mei Ram-ew wowed the audience with hip-hop’s best b-boy moves – breakdancing, popping and locking, cyphers and spins, krumping – that seemed to bring the Step Up movie series to the Mei Ram-ew’s Ark of Taste.
The Disco Soup originated in Europe where young people collected discarded and wasted vegetables and fruits from supermarkets, gathered in a Town Square and collectively peeled, chopped, and cooked soup to music. Their message was against the huge amounts of food wasted because they were tarnished or blemished. Some of the communities at the Mei Ram-ew like the Bhutan community contributed their unused vegetables which made the soup a true biodiversity soup. This cemented NESFAS’s message of how we can reduce waste and make a great soup by blending different vegetables that would be normally discarded.
The Disco Soup at the Mei Ram-ew reached out to the youth of Meghalaya to inspire them to an appreciation of importance of local food. “I have never had a better time in my life!”, said one of the young visitors to the event, echoed by many. Young visitors to the event enjoyed a range of good, healthy and tasty food and were exposed to the rich food diversity that still exists in the region.
However, these are disappearing foods and the future generations may not be similarly able to enjoy them. The elders of the communities had shared their experiences in the morning of how these disappearing foods had helped them survive in difficult times, how, for many poor families, these were a source of sustenance and nourishment. Their commitment to revive these disappearing varieties and protect those in danger arises from their concern for the future generations.
The concept and message of Disco Soup encourages and invites the current generation to think about a sustainable future and work towards it. It showed how cooking and eating locally grown food together could be not only a palate-satisfying but also a soul-enriching experience.
The Mei Ram-ew started with the message of Good, Clean, and Fair and ended with the message Good, Clean, Fair, and FUN!