How food inspires names of India’s Parsis
It is no exaggeration to say that Parsis, the Zoroastrians of India, take their food seriously – very seriously.
Love of good food and drink plays a central, oftentimes quirky, role in nearly every aspect of our culture.
When our babies sit upright for the first time, we celebrate by making them sit on top of laddoos (Indian sweet). At Parsi weddings, the clarion call of jamva chaloji (let’s eat!) has a hypnotic appeal.
Weddings are judged almost entirely on the quality of the pulao dal (rice and lentils) and the freshness of the patrani macchi (fish steamed in chutney).
For any other occasion or milestone, we scrupulously avoid fasting, proscribed in our religion as a sin.
Food is etched into our identity, and in many cases it is quite literally written into our names. Indeed, Parsi surnames provide a veritable smorgasbord of edible associations.
One family, with its roots in the western Indian city of Surat, evidently failed spectacularly in the art of cooking and, therefore, earned the surname Vasikusi, which means stinky food.
Other Parsi last names include Boomla, the Gujarati term for the Bombay duck, a slimy fish which has a dedicated fan following in the community, and Gotla, which is a fruit seed.
One particularly unusual variant of surnames ends with the suffix khao, suggesting a desire to eat or greediness.
A Papadkhao, therefore, could be a devoted consumer or hoarder of crispy fried papadums.
The existence of Bhajikhaos (vegetable-eater) demonstrates that not all Parsis were raging carnivores.
Curiously, a number of surnames revolve around cucumbers (kakdi): aside from Kakdikhaos, we also find Kakdichors (cucumber thief).
Click Here for the full story