Friday, 18 June 2021

English ain't the only language: Boonga is the real thing!

Dear Friends & Foodies!

How de doodie?

Yesterday, Sis mention that she want to buy crab meat. Then she say, "Tang's Bakery useta make the best stuffed crab backs!"

Tang's useta fry the crab meat with plenty seasoning...onion, garlic, shallot, that sort of thing. (What a treat for we the young ones, sitting on the wooden stools in the shop, eating one stuffed crab back each. Ma was well-versed in the art of finding tasty snacks for children).

Now, I with me wicked self tell Ma and Sis, "They musta find some fish that taste like crab and cook that and serve it."

"No," Ma say. "They take out the crab meat, especially from the boonga, that had plenty."

We can never talk about crab without me remembering. "Crab and boulanger curry!" I announce.(Boulanger, also known as baigan).

Every Saturday when Ma cook that, we kitchen useta be pack-up with all of we teenagers...cousins and friends...around the pink table. The noise and the laughter make the roof vibrate. 

To this day, we still talk about that curry and use the local names.

I mention this 'cause some people from we lovely native land suffer from such deep shame, they would never-ever use the words boonga, baigan or boulanger. I ain't know what they would say instead of boonga. But baigan or boulanger would be aubergine. 

Wot a shame to be so ashamed of words!

I bet you any bet, if famous cooks and artists and writers did come to we home, they woulda take much delight in learning the local words! I think musicians especially woulda love the riddim of boonga an' boulanger or baigan.

Bon apetit, me hearties.

Plenty lurve, neena. xxx.


  1. Cooking delicious food is like music a language all of its own. And different names are just additional notes.

    1. Child, Oz has some of the most delicious words...not just for food, but for so many things. I love billabong...fair dinkum...

      The other day, I was asking a Jamaican friend for the word for greedy, and remembered that they have 5: lickrish, licky licky, wanga gut, nyami nyami, craven.

  2. Hi Neena, Lovely Story! That hit really close to home.. It's a shame indeed, that we become so ashamed of our own words.. Our dialects.. Our language. There's been so much politics over languages and ethnicities and still there are writers, and artists and singers and rappers, keeping alive the local, the one depicting their home, culture, their roots. Baigan.. as you said, reminds me how palatable it can be when a Bengali Aunt invited us for tea and served us Baigan bhajiyas or begu bhaja as she called fried in mustard oil until turned crispy. One of the initial experiences of mine on how local can taste. And then, life in Kerala, a place that so proudly takes part in history, food, culture, local dialects, unique words, I have found new love, for my own roots and language, the one I won't ever shun.

    1. Hello Bhavana, welcome, welcome. How I love what you've said here. The world is such a wonderful place, full of colour, life, so much beauty. Yet we cringe from what we have to offer.

      I've heard that Kerala is stunning, a cousin of mine has visited. And my former dentist was from Kerala, a kind and gentle soul, full of humour.

      Back to shame...I think, if we wear what is ours with pride, others will come and enjoy it. I've seen how Jamaicans and Trinidadians do it, and those who visit try to emulate them.

      I'm following your blog because I like your description of what you do.