Oven logic

Looking back, it’s no rocket science to state that the year has been a heady rollercoaster ride for restaurants, cafes and nightspots. Going by the number of openings and shutting-downs, many of which we’ve lost count of, to stay alive must be the mantra on every restaurateur’s wish list for 2015.

On a lighter note, little wonder then that we receive celebration alerts, when restaurants and lounges complete their 2nd, 3rd and 4th anniversaries. Five years, and we’re sure the bubbly would be flowing free for every patron. This brings us to the veterans, the big boys in the business. Last Saturday, we ran a story in The Guide (Holy Trinity of Bandra) that paid tribute to three iconic bakeries in the suburb American Express Bakery, AI Stores & Bakery and J Hearsch & Co. Any self-respecting Bandra boy and aunty worth their pav and chicken puff will swear by the fresh food that goes on sale from their ovens and kitchens. And non-Bandraites, yours truly included, couldn’t agree any more.

Their stories of survival where trust and connect matters the most are the stuff of urban wisdom in these times of commercialistion. Mostly family-run, these businesses have strove to retain their flavours and aromas, and have remained integral to the core of why and how each had been set up all those decades ago.

We are sure though that such businesses face constant competition to think out of the box, largely due to stiff competition from all quarters —the overseas-returned kinds, the uber-creative artsy folk, the organic cafes and what not.

It mustn’t be easy, particularly in hotspots like Bandra. Yet, the energy and dedication with which they carry on, sticking to recipes handed over generations, and retaining methods and techniques that have been phased out elsewhere, is what we doff our hats to.

What’s also heartwarming to note is that the younger folk in such cases are willing to carry on the legacy. It’s a good sign, and one, we hope, continues in the coming decades.

Such fascinating stories can be found across the city – and offer amazing insight into a layer that is integral to Mumbai’s multi-hued food-scape. We hope that such charming icons are allowed to thrive and retain their identity in a city whose character is increasingly under threat albeit with an appalling lack of sensitivity.

Keep giving us this day, our daily bread!

The writer is Features Editor of mid-day

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