Saturday, May 14, 2011

Eating in India

Above - peaking through a GIANT dosa.  It tastes kind of like a crispy super thin sour dough pancake.  You use it to sop up sauces.  It is my favorite Indian food.


I called my grandma on Mother's Day.  ((Ok, I'm about to talk about food but I have to go off on a tangent for a second.  My grandparents are some of my very favorite people on the entire planet.  I LOVE talking to them.  When I am in the USA we talk at least once a week, but when I am abroad, sometimes it is less than that.  When I do call, they are always amazed and shocked - EVERY TIME... "oh my goodness, where are you calling from??" On this particular call, I got to tell them I was calling from my computer sitting under a coconut tree on the side of the road in India.  Which I understand sounds more than a little crazy, but it was true.  Wifi is amazing, I tell you what.  But I digress.))

ANYWAY.. whenever I call from some country or another, one of the questions they always ask me is about what I am eating.  And I usually have some good stories for them.  India certainly has provided some great phone conversation material.

First off, I should say that I pretty successfully made it through a month in India without learning the names of almost any of the foods I ate.  I'm not sure how that happened, but it did.  Since we were at camp most of the time and just being served food (instead of ordering from a restaurant menu), I never saw the names of any of the foods written down, so that pretty much means I was not going to remember anything.  So if you are looking for advice when you go to an Indian restaurant, don't call me.  An honestly, after eating curry breakfast lunch and dinner for a month straight....I should say you don't really need to invite me, either. :)  I'll be enjoying my sandwiches, burritos and froyo. 

Anyway, I took a picture one night (or lunch, or breakfast.. they all kind of look the same), and this is what my plate usually looked like:  some rice (usually two or three kinds, but i must have been feeling riced out this meal since I only opted for one) - some sauce (usually spicy curryish), some naan or chapati, and then something fried - usually veggies but once in a while some chicken.  Vegetarianism is extremely common in Southern India, so almost every meal we ate was vegetarian. 

You eat with your hands... or rather.. hand.  Your right hand.  You don't ever eat with your left hand.  Which is an interesting dilemma if you are left-handed, like one of our field consultants.
 I actually really hate getting my fingers dirty.  I always have - since I was a baby.  But I overcame, and ate with my hands almost the entire time.  Its tricky!  Especially the really saucy stuff - there is some serious technique that goes into it..  Sometime like squeezy cuppage.  Below is a picture of a dosa restaurant where we ate off of banana leaves:
After the meal was my favorite part when they would give us these little sweetened seedy things that tasted like black licorice.  It made my mouth feel fresh and clean and delicious. 

Anyway, that is my very informative, very intellectual take on eating in India.  Please know that the vast majority of my cynicism in this area is due to the fact that I was eating almost exclusively at camp, which means that I wasn't necessarily trying all of the culinary delights of the country.I must say, that although it did get a little much to be eating very similar food breakfast noon and night, the quality of the food we ate was extremely good, and I enjoyed the social interaction of having people critique my hand eating ability.

Bon appetit!

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