Canadian Director Richard Fung brings a history of Roti to the screen. Fung who is of Chinese Trinidadian heritage touches on the beginnings of the dish brought to Trinidad by East Indian Indentured servants.
The Story starts in Toronto in the dead of winter and discusses the current day city tradition of wrapped Roti.
Next stop Trinidad and a detailed discussion of the make up of the country. The African slaves that were brought to the Island to work in the cotton and sugar cane fields. The Indentured workers who followed after the slaves gained their freedom and demanded pay for their work.
The film looks at the different types of Roti including the Buss Up Shut named because it looks like a busted up shirt. Roti was considered the food of the poor descendants of the indentured workers. Interviews with their descendants revealed that they were laughed at when the broth Roti for lunch to school. The other students ate sandwiches but eventually they would trade and try a bit of everything.
Next to the motherland India. Fung could find nothing similar to Trinidadian roti in New Deli. Their version was based on a different type of flower. The search moved to East India where the tradition is to fry when they have the means to do so.
The history of East India used to be rich with a variety of crops. They began to grow the opium poppy crop and became dependant on that one crop which when it failed led to the exodus to the Caribbean.
Dal Puri Diaspora is a good history lesson of food, Trinidad, African Canadians and East India.
The story comes back to Canada for a history of Caribbean Canadians and their arrival in the late 50's through the start of a thriving community the mid 60's.
The director takes a turn at making Roti himself toward the end of the film with comical results. The constant cooking and recipe talk will leave the viewer salivating. Not a film to see on an empty stomach.
*** out of 4
Audience Award Winner 2012 Reel Asian Film Festival.
Dal Puri Diaspora | Richard Fung | Canada 2012 | 80:00 Minutes