Friday, 2 December 2011

Foodie's Day Out

Gastronomic habits, like personality is a cultivated trait than an inborn one. We are forced to adapt to our surroundings, which influences our likes, dislikes and tastes in every single way. I remember a colleague of mine, who told me that she was “comfortable nowadays” eating with bare hands the “South Indian” way. I assure you, there was nothing racist about it. We might even be influenced by the star we are born under. According to the Malayalam calender my star sign turns out to be “Bharani”, which in day to day life is a large drum-like thing used for storing pickles in the store room. People say, I even look like one. There is a sinister celestial conspiracy against me to make me a complete foodie, whether I like it or not.

Being brought up predominantly to the north of the Vindhyas made me a “food “connoisseur, as I like to call myself. I am at home with a Punjabi palate, Malayalee dishes, Gujarathi thali or the Maharashtrian spicy stuff. I enjoy every fare with the same delight, as would a person from those regions.

Some say, it is important to ‘feel’ the food before tasting it. That doesn’t work for me. While eating, I resemble Sehwag at the crease. If there is a ball, it is meant to be hit. If there is food, it is to be devoured. However, being a veggie in Kerala is a distinct disadvantage, almost bordering on prejudice. I am sure fellow vegetarians would have felt the same. We mostly have only two options in any restaurant we go.In the low end ones, it is Peas curry and tomato fry, while in the costlier ones it is mushroom masala and paneer butter masala. I have heard, the situation is even worse for the Mallu Veggie drinkers. They can't even order a chilly gobi alone, without invoking curious glances from others, waiters included. For buffets also, the same situation occurs. Kerala needs to wake up to the cuisines the Northie Veggies have.

While I wouldn’t want to sound patronising, Holiday Inn at cochin really made me feel elated. For the buffet we veggies had five options for curries and two options in Indian bread. My heart literally welled up with emotions. I suspect the waitress there saw a tear in my eye. The food was fab. With so much of North Indian spread, I didn’t even look at the veg noodles. “Ha, Chinese stuff. Bharat mata ki jai.”

Even now the taste lingers on. Good memories, they say, are hard to erase. I hope some of the other restaurants open up their kitchens for more veggie stuff. I am sure that there is a huge market out there waiting to be explored.

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