The Many Charms Of Kerala’s Toddy Shops

Homegrown Staff

Under the now beating sun of Kerala, stood a modest 4-walled structure topped with a sloped tin roof. One may also struggle to find the entrance –– tucked away at the corner of the front-facing wall. What resembled not much other than a warehouse, was in fact, the Mapranam Toddy Shop.

I did, however, make a stop at the spread of at least 20 dishes in various preparations –– all Kerala style. Beef, mutton head, whole fish, oyster, fish eggs, rabbit, quail eggs –– you name it, and Mapranam had a place for it. Joy’s excitement to list out his dishes was more than evident –– he even offered some tasters along the way. A ‘humble buffet’, I like to call it, with the food contained in aluminium pots.

The charm of toddy shops such as Mapranam may not particularly lie in the food, or even the toddy itself –– it may be attributed to people like Joy’s determination and love that goes into all of it. I hope I convey his excitement accurately when I say that his face truly lit up as we entered, and his quick-shuffling feet while serving food said a lot more about his pride in his work than a loose translation of his words ever could.

He accompanied us till our cars to bid adieu, under a sky that was now beginning to show signs of true monsoon rains, only after he posed and smiled for a few pictures I requested.