the papad’s road to westernization

The Indian papad is a thin, super-crunchy lentil wafer that’s super delicious deep fried. For my family, it can’t be just any kind of papad; it must be the Madras papad. That’s the kind that has not been adulterated by today’s fad for food fusion.  That’s the kind that hasn’t been assimilated with the Western food industry.
Papad these days are tailored for the exotic palate and come in assorted shapes, colors and flavors. Most all brands are sold in sophisticated, trendy packaging; some are even vacuum-sealed to keep the papads fresh and to keep them from breaking.
But not the authentic Madras papad. They are just like they have been for hundreds of years–simply made with  beluga lentils, baking soda, and salt. Simply plain and delicious. Even the packaging is authentic: The thin, dry wafers are tied together with some homemade jute twine and wrapped in paper that is sealed what could be some toxic glue.  A loud, close-to-garish blue, red and fuchsia label is slapped on as a final touch.
Everything from the wrapping to the jute string to a third of the wafers being broken from awful packaging  has this homey goodness to it. It’s so homey that the only way I’ve been able  to tell whether the stuff’s still good is to watch out for when the weevils start burrowing into them.
I’ve been without Madras papad for months now. So when I got a dozen packs this week, I was very excited. That is until I saw that the Madras papad now has on it “nutrition facts” and an expiration date.
What next? Do away with the smelly glue and the jute string?
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