Friday, October 22, 2010

Second Annual Curry Cook-Off for Bhopal

Who: VN Editorial Assistant Gabrielle Pope
What: 2nd Annual Curry Cook-Off
Where: The Women's Building, San Francisco, Calif.
When: October 21, 2010
Why: Curry for a cause!

The Scoop: When I read about the Curry Cook-Off on the amazing SF vegan blog Vegansaurus, I needed no further convincing. So maybe it was initially the promise of unlimited curry-tasting that drew me in, but the cause was certainly what solidified my commitment to the event. This was the second year of the annual curry cook-off, organized by the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal to raise funds for the victims of the world's worst industrial gas disaster that occurred in Bhopal nearly 26 years ago. Far too often suffering is forgotten as the years pass, but the effects of a disaster resonate for years afterward when it comes to victims, families, and communities effected. Victims from Bhopal are still struggling to obtain access to medical care and other forms of aid, so help is very much needed.

Original photography of children in Bhopal

I arrived at the Women's Building on 18th Street feeling very much like a neighborhood guest, seeing as how VNHQ has now moved to the Mission district, and even received a welcome to the neighborhood when I introduced myself to a woman who revealed to be, like myself, a British Columbia transplant. My new friend and I eagerly lined up for the curries, which were all vegetarian, and mostly vegan. I tried 5 or 6 curries out of about 9, and was pleasantly surprised to find that they were properly spicy. I'm a humungous fan of spicy food, and am always disappointed when curries are too mellow. My new friend and I compared notes on our favorite Indian restaurants in Vancouver while we were dished out curry after curry. Though most of the curries were North and South Indian-inspired, there were some definitely Thai- and Southeast Asian-influenced offerings. How lovely it was to breathe in the aroma of sauteed spices among a roomful of people eager to eat veg curries and learn more about the cause in Bhopal.

Not the best photo, but definitely some quality curries!

The event also featured a silent auction featuring items such as Ayurvedic consultations, handmade bags from an artisan in Bhopal, original art, and contributions from local businesses. A slideshow was set up featuring images of the disaster and its victims. I can confidently say that this evening greatly inspired me, and reminded me about just how powerful community incentives for change and charity are.

The curry line, pre-serving

The evening ended with a beautiful traditional dance performed by Christine Germain, and what reputedly followed was an announcement of the curry winner, but I was admittedly already back on MUNI on my way home in a curry-induced food coma. I had had such a hard time voting anyway, which is somewhat remarkable since I can be somewhat of a curry snob! I can't help it, Vancouver's South Indian and Thai restaurants have left me with high standards, which were happily met last night. The Curry Cook-Off was a wonderful event, and one that I will happily return to next year. I sincerely hope that the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal raised a significant amount of money for victims of the disaster, because they certainly left an impression on us guests.

Slideshow featuring protests for Bhopal

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