| People at the food stalls at the Hornbill Festival on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos |
Kohima, Dec. 11: The Sumis are famed for their delicious cuisine and traditional dishes of the community, like dry pork with axone (fermented soybeans), have gained worldwide popularity. In fact, axone has even made it to Star World’s Masterchef competition.
The soybeans cooked in the traditional Naga way are also gaining popularity in countries like South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines.
All Naga communities prepare axone but the Sumis do it the best. Proof of this could be found at the recently concluded Hornbill Festival where tourists and locals packed the stalls selling Sumi cuisine for all 10 days. A food morung (hut), run by the youth department of the Sumi Aphuyemi Baptist Church, Kohima, sold up to 700 plates — each plate costing Rs 200 — a day.
The volunteers at the stall said most of the customers were tourists. To give an idea, the church association had to slaughter 14 pigs, each weighing more than 150kg, during the course of the festival.
“We had very good sales this time,” a volunteer said. He said the proceeds from the stall would go to the welfare fund of the church. The church association earned around Rs 10 lakh during the festival.
The church association served simple Sumi food —dry pork with axone, ginger pickle and yam boiled with mustard leaves known as akibiye and samutu (meat chutney) with ginger chutney.
“I like Sumi food but it is becoming too commercial,” said Kenny Peseyie who had lunch at the church association’s morung with his friends. He said Rs 200 for a plate of rice was too expensive and added that the Hornbill Festival itself was becoming too commercial.
Some stalls were selling food at more than 200-300 per cent of the market rates, Peseyie said, adding that the government should intervene in setting the prices. He said exorbitant rates would discourage the domestic tourists in the near future.
Mhalezolie Kire comes to eat at the Sumi morung during every Hornbill Festival. “I like the dry pork with axone, that is why I come here every year,” he said. But he said the food was losing its flavour.
“I like Sumi food best during the Hornbill Festival at Kisama,” said Asa Ronny Seyie. This year more than 500 foreign tourists and over 5,000 domestic tourists came for the festival.
A small mug of local rice beer thutse, which costs Rs 40 in the market, was sold at Rs 100-120 at Kisama during the festival. It was also adulterated but tourists didn’t seem to mind.