Friday, 8 April 2011

Indian food and other random thoughts: Joe

I thought today would be a good opportunity to talk about food.  Apparently that's what people want to hear about -- go figure, gluttonous Americans back home only want to hear about the food-- JK.

The first morning we were at our homestay was quite a shock.  Imagine, if you will, a grilled cheese for breakfast.  Except, it's not cheese, but  flattened potato slices that have been spiced with various Indian flavors (curry and heat).  I hovered between disgust and bewilderment for a few moments, then said screw it and popped it in my mouth.  It was wonderful.  Every breakfast is served with tea, which is nice -- it's basically a combination of tea leaves, water, and milk that gets boiled together and then sweetened.  It's not coffee, but it's quite tasty.

Most meals that we have at our homestay are delicious variations on a theme.  The theme itself is simple:  a vegetable medley that gets curried, basmati rice (love this stuff), and some pita-like bread called roti.  Usually there are more than one type of curried dish for dinner that mixes two or three veggies (cauliflower, peas, carrots, potatoes, green beans, and chickpeas are favorites in our homestay).

It is quite impossible to find coffee in this place.  I started to get awful withdrawal headaches yesterday, so I found a vendor that had mountain dew.  Two things about the elixir of life: (1) it only cost 20 rupees for a 20 oz bottle (40 cents or so), (2) they use glucose and not high-fructose corn syrup for their sweetener (it's ... different).  We went early to clinic today so we could stop at Cafe Coffee Day.  It is, without exception, the dumbest name for a coffee shop that I've ever witnessed.  The managers/owners must have anticipated this type of condemnation in regards to their branding, so they cleverly stocked the store with the most delicious coffee that I've had in a long time.  No joke -- it kills Starbucks and Hubbards and (etc... every other big coffee chain in America).

With great humility I will let you all in on the experience I had while eating out at an Indian restaurant for the first time.  There were 8 of us in total, all students and one site coordinator.  The food looked delicious on the menu, and I was super excited to try some authentic food.  I started off with a chili paneer, and it was delicious.  Paneer has the look and texture of tofu, but is actually a form of low-density cheese that has incredible flavor.  They make a lot of it and combine it with various vegetables and spices/sauces.  After the chili paneer appetizer, I took my coordinator's advice and got a larger paneer item for my actual meal.  Even after the first appetizer, my stomach started to cramp and feel a bit off, but in classic form I shrugged it off and continued on.  I finished most of my dish, and Steph's, and Anjoli's... me --> fatass.  We paid and left (Steph, Anjoli, and myself).  Walking down the road, I started having pretty intense gas cramps, but I kept going with the girls because they wanted to shop.  I thought it was going to go away -- wrong --  it just continued to get worse.  I started to sweat and get light-headed and it felt like a 3-year old was playing Operation on my abdomen.  Steph could see it on my face and encouraged me to turn back towards the coffee shop so I could use the bathroom.  I almost didn't make it.  Long story short (to skip the gruesome tale of how an innocent Indian restroom was forever scarred), I found out that I have a form of lactose-intolerance or something.  The way that they prepare their dairy here is much different than we do, and my intestines weren't fooled.

Finally, on a non-food note.  I admire the way that the people here are so straightforward -- their innate ability to call a spade a spade, so to speak.  They don't have Plan B here, as we found out today.  They have Unwanted 72.


  1. Hi, Joe I am very sorry to read about your stomach problems, but it sounded very funny.

  2. Proper tea every morning (so proud), mt dew, paneer and an intestinal disaster... PRICELESS! Miss you guys!