Amidst raging debate over beef consumption across the country, Bengal government's inaugural food fest in Kolkata has given it a miss. Organised by the West Bengal Animal Resources Department., the festival titled 'Ahare Bangla' was inaugurated on Friday. Apart from various fish dishes, a whole range of meat including chicken, quail, turkey, lamb, pork and even rabbit is on the platter. However, curiously there's no mention of beef anywhere!
When asked, Bengal Minister Firhad Hakim clarified, "Beef has not featured in the menu because there's no need of it here. But I am not talking about any meat in particular. In general, no one can dictate what one should eat. It's a personal choice." 'Ahare Bangla' food fest aims to promote traditional Bengali cuisine. More than 150 dishes are on offer, including some that have vanished from the Bengali platter. But, despite the huge variety of cuisine available at the fest, beef is conspicuous by its absence.
Earlier this week, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had vehemently opposed any attempts to curb peoples food habits. Criticising the BJP over Delhi's Kerala house fiasco, Mamata had said, "they are telling some what to eat, what not to eat. But it's a personal choice! A large part of North East consume beef. This is a part of their staple diet as they can easily afford it. Why should one meddle in what an individual eats?"
The food festival is being held at Kolkata's Milon Mela grounds till November 2.