For one student, a hearty curry dish with a side of politics

Photo By: Branny Boils Over
Photo By: Branny Boils Over
Photo By: Branny Boils Over

Let’s just get this out of the way–being a mixed race, diasporic Rroma kid is not easy in general, and specifically when it comes to eating and misguided attempts to figure out what the hell it is that Rromani actually eat.

I will be the first to admit that I do not have the strongest grasp on my Romanipen, or whatever that may mean to an ambiguously brown boi living across the ocean from most of the people who look sort of kind of like me.

Lately, I have been on a probably ill-advised quest to figure out some way to feel a bit more Rromani, and since Vassar in all its white glory is hardly the easiest place to do that, I made the decision to keep that shit in the kitchen where only my housemates have to deal with it.

Being a large and almost universally oppressed diaspora, Rromani food, at least in my experience, seems to generally be influenced by a combination of regional culinary standards and widespread poverty.

Ingredients tend to be cheap, and organ meats and game animals tend to be popular, particularly rabbit, while Rromani in France and the United Kingdom view hedgehog as a delicacy.

Snail soup was once popular, but has been displaced by increased access to more assimilatory meat.

Until recently I had never eaten snail, but the thought of eating their cute little faces did make me a bit squeamish, something I resolved to get over during this journey of culinary exploration.

Since I did not want to have to look my rabbit in the face after eating someone like her, and, since hedgehogs are not so easy to come by around here outside of a pet store, I thought it might be just a little bit better to focus on a different mainstay of Rromani cuisine–stews and curries.

Typically, Rromani would cook over open fires and in big pots, so it is unsurprising that soups, stews and curries would be popular among the diaspora.

Foods that simmer for a long time and that have a thick gravy are generally viewed as more Rromani than others.

Now, I generally try to avoid making food that takes a long time to make, simply because I will use that as an excuse not to do my homework, but I decided figuring out my culture via eating and procrastinating was more important than focusing on school work anyway.

And with the disgusting winter weather, there is nothing better than staying inside your warm SoCo and cooking up some hearty food.

I can be a little squeamish about cooking meat, not because I find it disgusting, but because I am always afraid that I will undercook it and die horribly of some food-borne illness, so I generally rely on vegetable or bean-based soups or stews.

Even though I have been focusing on stews, curries and bread lately, last weekend, I thought it would be best to just see what this snail business was all about, and I did end up digging into some escargot while out to dinner.

Isn’t it funny how when the French do it it’s a delicacy, but when the Rromani do it it’s filthy? Europeans sure do cherry pick, but I digress.

Naturally, there exist some small, family-owned Rromani restaurants, which I would love to visit if they were more easily accessible, but for now, it looks like I will be trying to figure this whole Romanipen thing out on my own.

For authentic Rromani cuisine, start by being Rromani. This step cannot be skipped. Add in some widespread poverty and a history of genocide, and you will be well on your way.

 The Recipie

1 can black beans

1 2 oz container curry paste

1 16 oz container yogurt

2 cups cubed boiled potatoes

1 white savior complex

Add cooking oil to large skillet. Heat curry paste until fragrant. Add yogurt, combining thoroughly until bubbling.

Add beans and potatoes, cooking until heated through.

Sprinkle liberally with white savior complex.

Serve with flatbread or rice.

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