Mumbai’s moist iconic fish never fails to amuse with its names. Bombay duck, lizardfish, bombil, bummalo – some of the misnomers have been confusing many for decades.
The video above tracks the journey the delicacy took to its misleading name, which began at the time of colonial rule in India.
So beloved is Bombay duck that when the fish was banned in 1977 by the European Commission for not conforming to its hygiene laws, British businessman David Delaney fought the decision for four years to have the ban overturned.
The fish is either eaten fresh or traditionally dried in the sun on the beach to prevent its soft flesh from spoiling. Doing this in the open air instead of freezing and canning led the EC to fear bacterial contamination and ban its import.
But lovers of Bombay duck knew how to turn around the situation.
While the Indian High Commission launched a “Save Bombay Duck” campaign and urged the EC to adjust the regulations for dried bombil, David Delaney, a businessman and a wholesale merchant from Brimingham, studied the packaging in Mumbai and fought against the lack of “sanitary evidence”.