Mocambo (Calcutta, Jan 2020)

Here, finally, almost exactly six months to the day we left the city, is my last meal report from Calcutta. It’s not a meal I’d thought we’d have before the evening of but it’s a meal I’m glad we had and a meal we enjoyed—none of which is to say that the food was anything special. That probably sounds enigmatic but don’t worry I’m about to tell you what I mean. Mocambo is one of a few establishments located on or near snazzy Park Street that have been around since near the middle of the 20th century and which have together formed a locus of a particular kind of wealthy Calcutta cosmopolitanism. Names like Peter Cat, Bar-B-Q, Trincas and Mocambo have both evoked nostalgia for a long time for the city’s elite and maintained their popularity even as a new generation of restaurants and, in particular, restaurants serving Bengali cuisine, have sprung up around them. These were aspirational places in the 1970s and 1980s—before the rise of 5-star hotel restaurants—and Mocambo, the place that more than any other defines Calcutta Continental food, continues to be packed on weekends in early February well into the 21st century. Continue reading

Eating at the Tollygunge Club (Calcutta, Jan 2020)

I finished up with my Goa reports from January two weeks ago. All that remains from that India trip are a few reports from Calcutta, which is where we went directly from Goa. We were there for just short of a week for a family wedding. For the first few days we were put up at one of Calcutta’s many hoity toity private clubs, the Tollygunge Club. The father of the bride is an ex-president of the club and set this option up for everyone from the bride’s side of the family who wished to partake. This was an opportunity I was all too glad to seize as I’ve had a morbid fascination with these clubs since I was a young boy—never having seen the inside of any except the Tolly on a few occasions as a teen, as the guest of either said ex-president of the club or of wealthy classmates from the boarding school I went to in Darjeeling in the 80s. Continue reading