Tuesday, February 14, 2006

God's Own Brewery

A riddle for you to rack your brains: what is common between Jesus, an elephant-tranquilizer and a bride?

I guess that is a difficult one to answer - Mallus might have a better chance, especially Mallu guys.

Well, to cut the suspense short: they are all names of brands of liquors that are locally brewed in Kerala:
  • 'Jesus' (Yeshu in Malayalam) is named so because, apparently, after drinking a bottle of the 'Yeshu' brand, the 'drinker' shall 'resurrect' only after the third day.
  • 'Anamayakki', named after the famous elephant-tranquiliser reportedly imported from Sri Lanka, is self-explanatory, I guess.
  • As for 'the bride', well, the saying is that after a couple of sips of this potent liquid, the 'drinker' becomes as shy as a bride (meaning that he is unable to lift his chin).
I am NOT making up this, folks !! Us Mallu men have a unique and life-long relationship with our alcohol - is as important to us as the chest-hair growing out from our noses, you know! I mean, where else in India can you show me scores of ferocious-looking men (with typical Mallu-ishtyle handlebar mustaches, rolled up sleeves and immodestly hoisted up bright-colored lungis intact) standing docilely in line for their turn at the alcohol counter - just compare the scene with the mad rush at our railway stations and bus-stands, I mean!

And then we have the kallu, the strong, pungent white liquor fermented from sap collected from coconut trees. In fact, in Kerala, you'd see a pot hanging on almost every coconut tree in sight, to collect the precious white liquid. Speaking from my own experience, kallu tastes great; but the pungent odor is so overwhelming that a mere mouthful leaves you gagging (Hat tip: hold your nose and take a gulpful!). Be forewarned: it is extremely strong, hence (notwithstanding the taste) consume in small quantities.

Of course, a post on kallu would be terribly incomplete without a tribute to our famous 'kallu shops' (toddy shops). In addition to the kallu, they serve amazing (and I do mean AMAZING) non-vegetarian food. One of the good things in Kerala is that you can eat pretty much anywhere without fearing for your life (which is not the case, in say Chennai, where the water scarcity is so bad that the water used to wash a buffalo is proably then re-used to make your tea). The 'kappa & meen-curry' (mashed tapioca and fish curry) at these 'joints' deserves special mention (mmmouth-watering stuff!) - it is inevitably good.

P.S: I have been only to 4 kallu-shops in my lifetime, and in all 4 cases I bought parcels (what in the USA is known as 'take-away'); the ambience did not quite agree with me, you see!

I reiterate, us Mallu men take our alcohol (and our 'kappa & meen-curry', but more about that in a later post) very, very seriously indeed.


Shruthi said...

That was funny :) And you seem to be pretty experienced too in these matters ;)

Ranjit Nair said...

Shruthi, thx. My experience in 'these matters', all things considered, is not bad at all ;) - good old college days !

RagdaPattice said...

Hehee.. Funny read indeed. BTW Aint kallu made out of sap from Palm trees?

Ranjit Nair said...

@Clone-ji: Yeah, or from coconut trees - in Kerala, obviously from coconut trees since we have them in abundance.