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Published44 minutes agoShareclose panelShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesIndian street food has always been known for its distinctive flavours. But recent years have seen food sellers experiment with more and more unusual combinations of ingredients as vloggers and social media influencers try to create moments that go viral. Freelance journalist Om Routray reports on this rather unusual trend. At the Odeon Shukla Paan Palace in the heart of Delhi, customers line up with their mouths wide open, eyes closed in fear and anticipation as Vijay Shukla, the store owner, pushes a flaming paan into their mouths in one swift move. Paan, a betel nut leaf with slaked lime, rose petal jam and mouth fresheners like cardamom and cloves, has fascinated South Asians for centuries.Mr Shukla's store has been selling paan for 75 years in the Indian capital, but it shot to fame eight years ago when it began selling fire paan, a version with crushed ice and camphor that's served to customers after it's set on fire.Mr Shukla, a fourth-generation heir to the business, deftly folds the ingredients into the leaf and places the flaming pile in the customers' mouth. When it was first introduced, hundreds of videos of the delicacy were uploaded on social media, which showed excited customers giving a thumbs up to the camera. Magazines wrote about the thrills and the risks of trying it out. Image source, Getty ImagesSince then, Indian customers have seen an endless parade of experimental street food - from Fanta Maggi (instant noodles made with orange soda) and Oreo pakoda (batter-fried Oreo cookies) to kulhad pizza (pizza baked in earthen teacups).Street food has always been an integral part of Indian cuisine. Breakfast joints serve cheap local fare. Lunch stalls outside office and factory areas serve affordable food with sizeable portions aimed at satisfying a diverse workforce. Street vendors in the evening cater to families and friends with a variety of delectable snacks. It's also not new to experiments. In 1975, Jasuben Pizza, now a successful chain in Gujarat, added a spicy sauce and grated raw cheese to their pizzas, says Anil Mulchandani, an author and food critic based in the state's Ahmedabad city. Around the same time, in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) city, vendors made deep-fried savoury dishes of goat brains and began serving king-sized rolls. Mr Mulchandani says that some cities like Ahmedabad are known for being adventurous with food, mostly because of the entrepreneurial spirit of vendors and customers who are open to trying new combinations. But for a long time, these innovations were limited to only some parts of the country. This changed with the arrival of viral videos and social media trends - experiments became more common and many began to try extreme combinations which stand out. Shock and awe are a big part of these projects, which are often aimed at going viral instantly. In fact, many outlandish preparations are intended as stunts which become popular on the internet and attract new customers. Such food videos also seem to have a life of their own. A recent video which went viral involved making ice cream out of gutka - a chewing tobacco made of areca nut and slaked lime. The video was picked up by several other bloggers and even mainstream news outlets. But no-one could trace the vendor who made the dish. Image source, Om Routray Not all street food creations are made for the camera though - some are created around buzzwords that become popular. Bipin Big Sandwich in Mumbai city has more than 50 sandwiches on the offer. The most famous one is called Baahubali, named after the Indian historical fantasy film that dominated box offices across the country in 2015. The sandwich is made of four giant bread slices that are spread with butter, green chutney and an array of other condiments - baby corn slices, ginger-garlic paste, fruit jam, pineapple slices, jalapenos, olives, onions, capsicum, mayonnaise, grated cheese, tomatoes, grated cabbage and beetroot along with other spices.The range of ingredients pushes the price of the sandwich to 400 rupees ($4.8, £3.78), at least four times more than the other sandwiches. The owner of the place, Bhavesh, who goes by one name, says that the sandwich's popularity has nothing to do with viral food trends - he credits his own "effort and creativity" for his success."Many other food stalls offer similar sandwiches but I am not bothered. Everyone brings their own luck and talent to the business," he says. Image source, Getty ImagesOthers, however, say that consciously crafted trends are now an integral part of the food business. Abhay Sharma, a Mumbai-based food vlogger who runs BombayFoodie Tales, says he frequently gets requests from vendors to create viral videos for them."Such partnerships are not rare. There are times when vloggers push vendors to make something extraordinary for their cameras. Vendors also ask us to come up with concepts that can go viral," he adds. Anubhav Sapra, the founder of food tour group Delhi Food Walkswhich, says that vendors, content creators and customers have equally contributed to these trends. "There is a stratum of people for whom street food is no longer about sustenance, the theatrics appeal to them."This kind of partnership between public relations and customer outreach is well-established in the formal dining space, but there are no clear rules for street food yet."But street food vendors have become aspirational chefs," Mr Sapra says.Image source, Getty ImagesWhile news sites and social media platforms amplify their reach, the result has not always been positive for street food sellers. A food stall owner in Kolkata had to close shop after a food blogger featured his rum-filled puchkas (fried discs of dough with potato and chutney fillings) on her social media channels. Authorities tracked the vendor and revoked his licence because he didn't have the permission to serve alcohol. As the theatrics around food and their viral videos transform food culture, experts also wonder if this could change what's considered authentic street food."What will happen to street offerings that are considered quintessential to a region?" Mr Sapra wonders.Other experts also feel these viral trends will have limited impact on the rich diversity and heritage of Indian street food.BBC News India is now on YouTube. Click here to subscribe and watch our documentaries, explainers and features.Read more India stories from the BBC:Miners use hand drills to finally free 41 trapped India workersA billion hearts break as India lose World Cup finalRescuers to drill from top to reach 40 trapped menThe Indian artist who painted for British rulersIndian fashion designers face eco-chic dilemmaMore on this storyWhy India is a nation of foodiesPublished21 June 2016Indo-Chinese cuisine makes a splash in US diningPublished6 days ago
Published1 hour agoShareclose panelShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesBy James ClaytonNorth America technology reporterElon Musk's profane attack on advertisers boycotting X, formally known as Twitter, has baffled experts. If advertisers keep leaving and don't come back, can X survive?In April, I sat down with Musk for the first of his many chaotic interviews about his acquisition of X. He said something that, in hindsight, was rather revealing, but which passed me by at the time. Talking about advertising, he said: "If Disney feels comfortable advertising children's movies [on Twitter], and Apple feels comfortable advertising iPhones, those are good indicators that Twitter is a good place to advertise."Seven months later, Disney and Apple are no longer advertising on X - and Musk is telling companies that have left to "Go [expletive] yourself."In a fiery interview on Wednesday he also used the "b" word - bankruptcy, in a sign of just how much the ad boycott is damaging the company's bottom line.For a company he bought for $44bn (£35bn) last year, bankruptcy might sound unthinkable. But it is possible. To understand why, you have to look at how reliant X is on advertising revenue - and why advertisers are not coming back. Although we don't have the latest figures, last year around 90% of X's revenue was from advertising. It is the heart of the business.On Wednesday Musk more than hinted at this. "If the company fails… it will fail because of an advertiser boycott. And that will be what bankrupts the company." he said. Image source, Getty ImagesMark Gay, chief client officer at marketing consultancy at Ebiquity, which works with hundreds of companies, says there is no sign anyone is returning."The money has come out and nobody is putting a strategy in place for reinvesting there," he says.To make matters worse, on Friday retail giant Walmart announced it was no longer advertising on X.After Musk had told advertisers who quit X where to go in Wednesday's interview at the New York Times DealBook Summit, he said something that made advertisers wince even harder."Hi Bob", he said - a reference to the chief executive of Disney, Bob Iger. When Musk puts chief executives "in his crosshairs" like this they will be even more reticent to be involved with X, says Lou Paskalis, of marketing consultancy AJL Advisory.Jasmine Enberg, principal analyst at Insider Intelligence, adds: "It doesn't take a social media expert to understand and to know that publicly and personally attacking advertisers and companies that pay X's bills is not going to be good for business."So could X really go bankrupt? If advertisers are gone for good, what does Musk have?When I interviewed him in April, it was clear he understood that subscriptions on X were not going to replace advertising money."If you have a million people that are subscribed for, let's say, $100 a year-ish, that's $100m. That's a fairly small revenue stream relative to advertising," he told me.In 2022, Twitter's advertising revenue was around $4bn. Insider Intelligence estimates this year it will drop to $1.9bn. Elon Musk launches profane attack on X advertisersElon Musk visits Israel after antisemitism rowThe company has two major outlays. The first is its staffing bill. Musk has cut X to the bone already, laying off thousands. The second is servicing the loans Musk took out to buy Twitter, totalling about $13bn. Reuters has reported that the company now has to pay $1.2bn or so in interest payments every year. If the company cannot service the interest on its loans or afford to pay staff then, yes, X really could go bankrupt. But that would be an extreme scenario that Musk would surely want to avoid. Image source, ReutersHe has options. By far the simplest thing for Musk would be to put more of his money in - but it sounds like he doesn't want to do that. Musk could try to renegotiate with the banks for less onerous interest payments. He could ask, for example, for "payment in kind" interest - where payments are delayed. But if renegotiation does not work and the banks don't get their money, then bankruptcy could be the only option, and at that point the banks could try to push for a change in management. "It would be very messy and complex," says Jared Ellias, a professor of law at Harvard Law School. "And it would be extremely challenging. It would create a lot of news because he would constantly get deposed and have to testify in court."It could be terrible for Musk's business reputation, and would also impact how Musk could borrow money in the future. And in a bankruptcy scenario, would X simply stop working? "I find that to be very hard to believe," says Ellias. "If that happened, it'd be because Elon decided to pull the rug out. But even then, if he were to do that, the creditors would have the option of pushing the company into bankruptcy, getting a trustee appointed and turning the lights back on," he says.What next for Musk?The obvious solution to all these problems for X is to simply find another revenue stream - and fast. Musk is certainly trying.He has launched a new audio and video calls service. Last month he streamed himself playing video games - he hopes X can compete with apps like Twitch.He wants X to become the "everything app", covering everything from chat to online payments.According to the New York Times, which got hold of the pitch deck Musk was giving to investors last year, X was supposed to bring in $15m from a payments business in 2023, growing to about $1.3bn by 2028. X is also sitting on a huge treasure trove of data, and its vast archive of conversations can be used to train chatbots. Musk believes this data is vastly valuable. So X does have potential.But in the short term, none of these options plug the hole advertisers have left. It's why Musk's profane outburst was so baffling to many. "I don't have any theories that make sense," Paskalis says. "There is a revenue model in his head that eludes me."This video can not be playedTo play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.More on this storyElon Musk launches profane attack on X advertisersPublished2 days agoWhat is WeChat and why does Elon Musk want to copy it?Published29 JulyElon Musk visits Israel after antisemitism rowPublished5 days agoX sues pressure group over antisemitism claimsPublished21 NovemberX ad boycott gathers pace amid antisemitism stormPublished18 November
close Video Fox News Flash top headlines for December 2 Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on suspect has been arrested after killing one person and injuring another in an ambush attack near the Eiffel Tower on Saturday, according to a post by Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin on X.