Food, said former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was the oldest diplomatic tool and experts agree. Whoever controls access to food, they say, controls the room where diplomatic parleys take place. And food seems to have been the key diplomatic tool used by PM Modi to soften his Chinese guest of honour, President Xi Jin Ping, at Mamallapuram.
Running a large country, said Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, was like frying a small fish. We are told that what he meant was that the essence of governing a large country was best left to take care of itself !
While it is not known if the Chinese President and the Indian Prime Minister discussed philosophy over their dinner and lunch at Mamallapuram, what is known is that the Indian hosts went out of their way to lay a spectacular array of dishes including non-vegetarian fare made of fish, lamb and chicken.
The Chinese are known for their devotion to the stomach and take their food seriously. Mao Ze Dong, credited to have said that a Revolution was not like inviting people to dinner, preferred a spartan fare but he was so fond of chillies that the first western journalist to interview him, Edgar Snow, had revealed that Mao got pepper cooked into his bread.
While neither the PMO nor PM Modi tweeted pictures of he and the Chinese President having lunch or dinner, a dinner menu card found its way to social media and has been widely shared and commented upon since Friday evening.
According to the menu card, the non-vegetarian menu served for Xi Jinping included signature dishes of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. The Tamil Nadu signature dishes like Thanjavur Kozhi Curry — a chicken gravy which is a speciality from Thanjavur and Yerachi Ghetti Kozhambu — a gravy of mutton cubes cooked with dry coriander and spices Arachavitta Sambar, a lentil curry made with a paste of spices and coconut and Mamsam Biryani, a dish made with long-grained rice and tender lamb cooked in Andhra style also found a place in the menu along with Mutton Ularthiyadhu, a Kerala style dish made with mutton cubes and coconut.
Malabar Lobster cooked in Kerala spices also adorned the long list of exquisite list of cuisine.
Both the leaders were also photographed having coconut water before the lavish dinner.
The menu included Kadalai Kuruma and Kavanarasi Halwa, All regional cuisines, from Chettinad to Karaikudi, wwere represented at the dinner and the lunch hosted by the Prime Minister.
Adding more flavour to the dinner, the menu had ‘Beetroot gongura chop’ and ‘Pacha sundakai Aricha Kozhambu’, made of pea aubergine with tamarind and jaggery.
The desserts in the spread were also kept traditional with a Kerala touch as ‘ada pradhanam’, a rice palette cooked with jaggery and coconut milk was served apart from South Indian variety of pudding and speciality ice cream.
Twitterati in India wondered if the Chinese premier could take the strong South Indian spices. Some also commented on the non-vegetarian cuisine being the highlight of the menu of the dinner:
However, the Xi-Modi summit amid the concerns for the economic slowdown in both the countries has stirred the curiosity in people about what this summit will mean for both the countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday concluded their one-on-one informal talks at the Taj Fisherman's Cove Resort & Spa beach resort in Mahabalipuram. 129 Memorandum of understanding (MoUs) were signed between the Indian and Chinese companies ahead of PM Modi and the Chinese President’s second informal summit. The MoUs were signed for sectors like - agri-related products, minerals, textiles, food-processing, yarns, minerals etc
As the Chinese president arrived in Mahabalipuram, he along with prime minister Modi visited the World Heritage Site at Mamallapuram. This visit was followed by a lavish and sumptuous dinner. The menu of the dinner was tweeted by the news agency ANI and it had a lot of non-vegetarian South Indian cuisine;