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Heady brew at food fest

Dec. 4: Are you the sort of tippler who longs for something exotic? Then boy, are you in for a treat! Get set to sample the potent apong of the Mising community or down a glass of the Ahoms’ laopani. Drink to your heart’s content at the ethnic food festival, which will be held at Maniram Dewan Trade Centre from December 28.

And this year you can stop worrying about excise sleuths crashing the party. The excise department today said it would allow organisers to display the ethnic drinks and allow people to taste samples, but deny them permission to sell the brew.

Last year, the department raided the stalls during the food festival and destroyed them, calling them illegal. The move was criticised by the organisers who said their stalls were destroyed even after intimating the excise department.

Excise superintendent (Kamrup) A.K. Bayan told The Telegraph: “We will give some relaxations this time, keeping the tourism aspect in mind. Since the government is giving importance to promoting local brews for tourism purposes, this year we will make some arrangements. But we cannot allow them to sell the brews without licences,” Bayan said.

Last year, the organisers offered food items and brews of different ethnic communities during the International Trade Fair, but around 50 armed constables, enforcement inspectors of excise and city police personnel allegedly vandalised the stalls and destroyed the food items too. Many had criticised the action and said it was not acceptable at a time when the state government was emphasising on promoting the ethnic drinks for tourism.

The ethnic food festival will go on till January 10. This time it would offer different ethnic drinks like apong of the Mising community, laopani of the Ahoms, zu mai of Bodos and those of the Singphos for visitors, the organisers said.

“This year, we will bring people from villages of different ethnic communities who will prepare the ethnic drinks and display the methods applied in preparing the drinks for visitors to our festival. The main purpose of organising the festival is to promote our traditional food and beverages,” a festival organiser said.

“This fair will also enable city residents to know the art of making ethnic drinks and keep it alive for the next generation,” the organiser added.