My vacation evenings were normally spent with my left balancing a book, my nose stuck right inside it and my right hand breaking off a part of a spicy fish chop. The Macher Chop, as called in Bengali, was bought from a shop near my house. My favorite was with the fish stuffing though one could also buy with egg or mutton. I can still taste the hot, tangy, sweet and salty flavor of the mashed fish mixed with potatoes and dressed up with hot green chillies.


Though the long periods of time away from home have dulled the memory of the chops over the years, last week the thought came back to me in a rush and I have been craving them ever since. So last evening I decided to stop on my way home and buy some. I remembered the shop as a small hole in the wall with one guy dividing his time between tending to his customers and frying the bread crumb rolled chops in a wide cauldron of boiling oil. Yesterday I saw that liberalization has touched him too. His little hole in the wall is now a large shop with blazing lights and he has two young helpers to serve the huge coterie of customers waiting impatiently for their turn.


Reaching home, I hastily bit into the chop and savored the still rich taste of the fish stuffing. The outside was crispy brown and the inside crumbly with a hint of coriander, chillies and onions, just the way I remembered it. Typically, memories of food taste better in our mind than the present reality. This time, however, my memory served me right.