To some they are just big crisps to crunch whilst waiting for a cold pint of Cobra, or a handy snack to soak up the evening’s alcohol consumption. To others they are a device to distract the mind from the rumblings of the stomach, or just something to pass the time whilst perusing the menu.
But to me, poppadoms (or papads, pappadums, or whatever spelling variation you favour) are much more than that.
These sun-dried-deep-fried discs of crispy golden-pleasure – these communion wafers to be taken at the altar of Tikka-Masala and Kingfisher – these offerings of peace to the gods of Curry-mile.
To me they are that peaceful interlude, that ceasefire kick-about between the trenches amidst the dead bodies and bomb-cratered detritus that litter our days. They are our chance for crunchy contemplation, a respite for reflection, and a mouth-watering moment to be mindful.
But most importantly, they are a part of a moment that is to be shared with others.
Swiftly and decisively poking the pile with your index finger, breaking the whole into smaller misshapen sections – like Jesus passing out the fish butties – this in itself is in an instant an act of total peaceful inclusion of others.
Poppadoms are not meant to be hoarded, to be snatched away to a side plate intact to be consumed alone.
They are our unusual opportunity to share.
And when was the last time you shared anything?
We spend our lives surrounded by others yet trapped in isolation, protected by our self-built onanistic bubbles of consumption. In the little cubicles we’ve created around our lives we don’t split our sandwiches or offer out our mobile phones, we don’t ‘go-two’s’ on our ciggies, nor pass around our Starbucks.
We are completely alone; we never allow ourselves the opportunity to share.
Imagine if the person stood next to you on the tube or the bus offered you a Polo, you’d almost definitely refuse, it’s so unusual and unnatural that you’d probably assume it to be the beginning of an elaborate terrorist attack.
Yet put a plate of pappadums in front of us, crack open that shield of selfishness; that gossamer film of egocentrism and with one swift stab at the centre of the pile, (like Arthur Scargill on stage at the TUC in his heyday) a gavel like reverberation is sounded to shake us from our own self-indulgences.
Instantaneously we become more than one, we leave our candycrushed independence; we join a collective, a group around the table, a group in which we are all equal.
They are the crispy social lubricant that release the pains that continually hold us enthralled in ourselves. Perhaps Mango Chutney is the glue that then binds us back together as a whole?
But you cannot be angry over poppadoms, it’s impossible.
For they are the poppadoms of peace.
You can argue over bhajis, quarrel over kormas, and beat the crap out of each other over handfuls of sugar-coated fennel at the end. But over poppadoms we are together, as one, and perhaps for the first time – in a long time – we are forced to share our pleasures with others.
The best Indian restaurant always provides a mountain of poppadoms as soon as your arse hits the velour. They’re not free, of course the price is well hidden in the rest of the menu, but that doesn’t matter. They know the power of the poppadum. They see how we react; they understand the poppadoms of peace.
Perhaps more Indian restaurants should do the same.
Imagine if all meetings held – be they peace negotiations, difficult cease-fire summits, political podium debates, managerial sales symposiums, angry religious seminars, even tension-filled Monday morning stand up target-driven sales-meetings at supermarkets – imagine if they all started by the cracking of a plate of poppadoms.
How much more effective would they be?
How much more peaceful.
How much more inclusive.
Just because of this humble papad?
Imagine how much better the world be.
Poppadoms of peace, man.
You heard it here first.