The Story of the Pão

The Goan cuisine has one of the most the delectable tastes on the Indian coastline. Its blend of European and Indian cuisines bring out the best of flavours. With sweet and spicy dishes dotting the menu, every foodie will find paradise in Goa’s restaurants. Among these many delectable dishes, is a side accompaniment that seems so trivial, yet it has been a part of the Goan diet for centuries.

If you are a foodie, or better yet a Goan foodie, you must have guessed by now that I’m talking about the ‘Pão’- the Goan bread. The pão has been a part of the Goan diet for such a long time, it can almost be considered as a family member. Apart from being the perfect partner to a plate of ambottik or Balchão, the pão has been a staple at breakfast time and at tea time in the evening. The village poder will sound his familiar horn announcing his arrival and religiously visit every household to deliver freshly baked breads. This familiar scene will get every Goan nostalgic. Yet, the bread that once carried so many happy memories has lost its charm.

The once blooming business is on a gradual decline. The most significant reason being the recent price rise of the bread. Single bread that once cost 2 rupees and less, has risen to 5 rupees. This price rise has put Goans in a dilemma, where they have to think twice before buying a commodity they once found indispensable.  Many Goans have found that the alternative chappatis will be more feasible to their pockets.

Another matter of concern is that, the increase in the price of the bread is directly related to the decrease in the size of the same. “Although the price of the bread keeps increasing, the size also keeps decreasing. I think that is an unfair thing”, reckons homemaker, Sarita Pereira.

Size does matter, especially if you are paying a hefty price, but what about the taste of the pão?  Does it count as well? With traditional Goan bakers giving up this age old traditional occupation, migrants have learnt under them and started their own bakeries. The may produce the same baked goods, yet the flavour and essence of the pão seems to be lost.

Will this be the end of a cultural cuisine legacy? Or can Goans expect aache din in the future? Only time will decide the fate of the loyal Goan food companion- the pão.