Food is an unavoidable companion in every stage of our lifetime. Regardless for people are in poverty or sustainability, food is a fundamental need of everyone. Food habits determine life quality. It can evoke good and bad emotions, memories, and experiences in our life journey from the womb to the tombstone. The colours of food can tell a spectrum of life stories of people, including the history of migration. They can be an invitation to create new relationships and bonds. Food culture is fundamental to retaining national, cultural, regional, religious, and ethnic identity. On the other hand, they can invite and bridge cultures, and create fusions while expressing their native.
Rice.no was an Oslo-based food blog initiated by two friends, who later became three, who were all Tamil-Norwegians. The food blog presented the multiculturalism of Norway through food culture. Recipes such as Indian lamb curry, Chinese pepper beef, Doner kebab, Chicken breast with feta and spinach and Pork-fillet with mustard and orange sauce were few to mention.
On 28th June 2021, DiasporA Tamil Archives contacted Rushanth Vathanagopalan (RV), who was one of the initiators, to tell the story of their art of food.
DTA: What inspired you to start the blog?
RV: We were a couple of friends, who later became three, who enjoyed cooking during our studies. After graduating we wanted to collect our recipes on a food blog. So, we could preserve them somewhere digital and share them with others.
DTA: How did you manage to collaborate between you all in work with the blog?
RV: We agreed to publish content in a routine and shared the work task. Thereby we tried to keep the blog up and running.
DTA: How did you identify the recipes that you included in the blog?
RV: We didn´t have a strict way of identifying recipes. Mostly it was up to each member to write down anything interesting that they cooked. However, special occasions (like Easter, Christmas or World Cup in Brazil to name a few) or fresh inspiration from travel abroad led us to find recipes for particular dishes, that we re-create in our style.
DTA: What was the favourite food of Rice.no?
RV: That is a tough one. But looking at the stats of Rice.no, I know Indian-inspired lamb curry and Chinese pepper beef were quite popular among the readers. For ourselves, I think everything was quite good. However, one time we met up to cook together a three-course meal, including a main dish with pork fillet (with bacon) with mustard and orange sauce. I think that was a great experience personally for us.
DTA: Tell about the emotion, memory, or experience that you have with the favourite food of Rice.no?
RV: One thing was the food itself, where we tried out something new. But even better was the possibility to stand in the kitchen together, talk, taste and discuss and enjoy the whole process from start to end with like-minded people.
DTA: How long have you been managing the blog?
RV: We managed the blog actively for about 2 years since 2010. But in the later years, we have not done anything with the blog.
DTA: What was the aim of the blog?
RV: The aim was to collect recipes and share them digitally. As well as to bring in Tamil food elements as we had a Tamil background. Showcase how you could bring new flavours and fuse them with other ordinary recipes. At the time, there were only a handful of blogs, and none of them really had any Asian elements represented, which we thought also might be fun to bring out to the Norwegian foodies.
DTA: What are your future plans with Rice.no?
RV: So far nothing. It is untouched. Maybe sometime in the future, the blog will be updated and come in a different form if time and interest return.
Based on Rushanth’s personal archives, it was revealed that he had planned to make an e-book of food recipes in 2015, where he was thinking to include the recipes mentioned below.
Tasty cod on mashed potatoes with beetroots, chorizo and spring onion
Indian-inspired Barbequed lamb skewers
Spinach and feta cheese-filled chicken breast
Kebab on a trip to Mexico
Chinese-inspired pepper beef
Mussels with an Indian touch
Fried salmon with peanut pesto
Chunky guacamole please
BBQ baked Amandines
Yummy Tamil fish cutlets
Redwine beef stew for real men (and women)
DTA is thankful to Rice.no for the opportunity to allow us to document and preserve one of many hidden and soon forgotten initiatives of Tamil-Norwegians. Preserving the story of the food blog, only enriches the Tamil-Norwegian migration history, as well as the history of the Tamil diaspora and their history of food culture.
The food blog is unfortunately inactive from January 2022. We encourage the website of Rice.no to be retrieved and archived for memory and future use as research material. Websites based in Norway or have content relevant to Norway can be archived and preserved at the National Library of Norway. DTA encourages as many Tamil-Norwegian websites as possible to be maintained, archived, and preserved. Hence, websites are one of the major contemporary historical documents of private/ volunteer organisations, which document cultural history, especially of the migrated societies.
For more information: National Library of Norway