“Happy National Biscuit Day” a gentleman sent this message to me this morning. “Last Saturday, I read your blog on International Tea Day, that’s why wrote to you today. May be you could share some stories on biscuits, ” the gentleman said. My simple, non-smart feature phone, shows messages in threads. When I asked my social media team to post it, I was informed that it is observed in America. But still I thought to share what came to my mind.
Biscuits originated as a necessity in the ancient times, as sailors would need to fill their stomach during sea voyages and this compact food item could be stored for a longer period of time. From absolute necessity to a savoury to gourmet sweet, biscuits have evolved from Neolithic age till now with different countries having different varieties and accompaniments to go with it. Biscuit, I feel is a unifyer. People of all strata consume biscuits in some form or the other. It is a great leveller – as people of all ages love to savour the crunch in a biscuit.
In India biscuit is considered to be the twin of tea. A country where tea is a socio-cultural phenomenon, biscuit has become an integral part of this phenomenon, so much so that, Cha-Biscuit is used as a single term. Different qualities and types of biscuits are available – one for children with cream, one with the dash of jam on top, one filled with fibre for digestion, one with an alternative grain like Ragi and Oat for weight-watchers, one without sugar, one packed with coffee for caffeine lovers and the list is endless. With the value of guest is god, biscuit and tea comes next in line as offerings after water. If the children don’t eat food on time, mothers give biscuits thinking atleast the child has eaten something. If one is sick and has to take a dose of antibiotic which can not be taken empty stomach, biscuit is the way out. Listening to the radio, the oldies enjoy their cup of tea and biscuit. In school tiffin boxes, biscuit becomes the easy carry on. From a roadside vendor shop, to mum-pup shops to restaurants, biscuits are a common part. In calamities and pandemics, biscuits play very important role as dry food.
In my childhood, there were not many kinds of biscuits in the market. But from what was available, I wished to eat many a times. But I could not afford it. The irony of life is such that when I had an appetite for it and body could have permitted it, it was like a day dream. Now that I can afford to eat it from any part of the world, the intake is limited because I lack the appetite for it and body will not process it. I carried the opinion that biscuit is meant for rich and affluent people, and poor people like me should be happy with ‘Chuda-Mudhi’. Those days, I vividly remember we had some global brands even in villages, tasted like milk powder biscuits. We were told that these are rejected by American Children, but we in India, being a poor country, should satiate ourselves with whatever we get.
Now I enjoy tasting and eating different type of biscuits and cookies. The salted biscuit is my favourite, and I take it with tea everyday. Only when I am writing about it, I can now note how it has become a part of us, as indianised as it could be and termed as “Biskoot”. As a philosopher, I say that sometimes we don’t even realise the importance and existence of every small thing in the world. We are lost in thoughts and don’t enjoy. Next time, you are eating that biscuit of yours, with tea, take time to quietly unwind and enjoy it with yourself. As an idealist, I feel that all should have same kind of biscuit and it should be accesible to all focussing on equality. As a realist, I feel all that I dream and wish doesn’t come true, and enjoy the invention and celebrate the invention on this special day dedicated to biscuits.