The 2014 FIFA World Cup is round the corner, and for the football-mad Bengali, there is no time better than this. Love for the beautiful game (as the legendary Pele called football) runs in the veins of Bengalis, and the quadrennial tournament is the biggest in the world of football, or for that matter, in the world of single-sports events.
During this time, especially in Kolkata, and in the state as a whole, it becomes almost a hobby for people to indulge in never-ending idle chatter as well as intellectual discussions on World Cups and everything related to it. At homes, in offices, in public transport, in tea stalls and coffee shops, during roadside addas, and everywhere in between, football becomes the flavour of the season. And that season is almost on us now. Football is now the food for thought. And coming to food, why, there is indeed a strong food connection to the World Cup this time round. Two of Bengalis’ favourites, tea and mango, are being exported to the venues of the Brazil World Cup.
Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, where the final is going to be held
Darjeeling tea from Makaibari Tea Estate is going to give a kick to players, guests and VIPs at the World Cup this time. The marketing partner of Makaibari Estate in England, Hampstead Tea and Coffee Company, which is also one of the world’s largest tea-sellers, is going to export the consignments to Brazil. The high-end products of Makaibari like Silver Tips Imperial, Royal Camomile, black tea and the first flush are bound for Brazil. Silver Tips Imperial is the world’s most expensive tea, selling at $40 (around Rs 2,400) per 100 g.
Makaibari tea had also travelled to the Beijing Olympics in 2012, when 300 kg of Silver Tips was served exclusively to VIP guests of the Olympic Games in the Chinese capital. This time, however, the tea would reach a much wider clientele, comprising commoners (of course, those willing to pay for a premium quality tea) as well as VIPs.
Makaibari Tea Estate is one of the world’s oldest
tea gardens and factories. It was established in 1857. The total estate spans 670
hectares. The estate has pioneered in organic farming practices in the
tea trade. Rajah Banerjee is the current owner of Makaibari Tea Estate.
The dashing Rajah Banerjee at Makaibari Tea Estate (L); A packet of the prized Silver Tips Imperial
The king of fruits, as mango is so often called in India, is going to keep the company of Darjeeling tea at the king of all sporting events. Consignments of the famous Langra (from Malda district) and Himsagar varieties of mangoes are all set to land in the land of Samba before the tournament begins on June 12. However, exporting mangoes involves adhering to a lot of rules, so exporters are racing against time. The fruits have to be packed according to international standards. Then, the mangoes would have to be irradiated, that is, passed through radiation chambers to kill certain bacteria which reside inside the fruits. Bacteria can spread quickly in a place not used to such bacteria, and infect food and crops.
For irradiation, the mangoes have to be sent to Mumbai as West Bengal has as yet no setup in place (one is planned to be set up in Chinsurah). Some state mango exporters have already contacted exporters in Mumbai, who have expertise in exporting different items to Latin American countries. About 10 quintals have been planned to be sent to Brazil.
According to Ujjal Saha, secretary of West Bengal Exporters’ Coordination Committee, the committee has already taken up the matter with the Agricultural and Processed Food Export Development Authority (APFEDA) in New Delhi. The price of the luscious fruits will include the price of the fruits and the cost of exporting the same.
The king of fruits: Langra (L); Himsagar
Though India is far from qualifying in a football World Cup, we can all cheer up thinking of the cup that cheers making a conquest in faraway Brazil, with the king of fruits making a beeline for the hearts and minds of the people there as well. And enjoy the late-night matches with hot cups of the ever-rejuvenating chai.
FIFA World Cup
Written by Anushtup Haldar for Team M3.tv