As a flag is synonymous with a country’s boundaries, so too is a dish intrinsically associated with a country’s people. What Jerk is to Jamaicans, Pie is to Aussies, Doner Kebab to the Turkish or Bunny Chow to South Africans; Kothu is to us.
Such dishes often have a common theme of having origins deeply rooted in the working class. Yet, these dishes today transcend socio-economic status within their places of origins and beyond. Classically, Kothu can be found being made at the roadside, in a stand-alone stall in bus halts and bustling markets where lawyers and labourers alike congregate. It also serves as a disarming bridge between starkly different cultures. In today’s multicultural societies, food often becomes a persevering cultural symbol beyond simple nourishment, while other customs fade and blend.
To our diaspora collective, food is arguably a unifying and representative product of our culture. Not all of us speak the same language, listen to the same music, share the same political views, abide by traditional customs, nor do we wear sarongs to bed or saris to the office. Yet, we all can almost guarantee having been in a debate about who makes the best Kothu in town.
In a world apparently burgeoning with foodies, Kothu and Sri Lankan cuisine have surprisingly stayed relatively unknown or packaged as South Asian. KothuFest, an original independent food festival celebrating Kothu, now in its second year, seeks to rectify this culinary and cultural travesty by bringing our iconic dish to everyone in Toronto.
On July 24, 2016, some of Toronto’s best and well-known Kothu creators will descend upon Albert Campbell Square at the Scarborough Civic Center. From showcasing classic flavours to mouth watering contemporary varieties, the evolution of Kothu will firmly be evident at Toronto’s one and only KothuFest.
We humbly invite all of you to come and represent as we seek to add to our illustrious and evolving narrative among Toronto’s cultural landscape.