Travel Food Log!
To the land of holy cows and digestive tract Hell. As someone with digestive problems to begin with, I have experienced some awful stomach and esophageal issues. Thus, when I was told to be careful what I eat while traveling, I was more than happy to respond, “I can handle it. Trust me.” No one trusted me. Can you blame them?
But let’s start with the “safe” hotel and restaurant and flight food. See, in India, they don’t have restaurants with cow meat. It doesn’t happen. If it were to happen, I was told the place would be burned to the ground. Cows are truly respected in India. All animals are, but others can be eaten. The cow is the provider, though. It is the Mother. It gives milk to the starving, it gives patties (aka dung) to the construction worker (aka anyone who can collect, dry, and construct things out of dung) and they’re just kinda cute. Thus, the cow does what it wants, where it wants, when it wants.
Look at that wittle, pretty cow-cow! Who’s gonna tell him to get out of the road? Let him chill out. Don’t worry, little cow, we’ll drive around you!
Therefore, being vegetarian in India is easy. Just avoid chicken and mutton, and you’re good. However, being vegan is a bit trickier. Ghee and paneer are two biggies here. Ghee is basically butter and paneer looks like tofu, but do not be fooled! It is a cube of cheese. Even the Gulab Jaman is typically either made with milk and/or honey. So, unless you can speak Hindi or Urdu or whatever other of India’s 100+ languages, or you can somehow otherwise be 100% that the food is dairy-free, it is still difficult. Fortunately, I had a good guide to help me out, and many of the people I met could understand my question about milk/butter/honey. Still, I came close a few times! Also, you can pretty much just always assume most of the naan and rice will have ghee on it, unless you request it without it.
Fortunately, the first hotel I went to had paratha with potato inside and no ghee. Also, the fruit was delicious!
The most common fruits I came across were watermelon (which they also like to feed the monkeys) and mango. You also see the bean sprouts here. They weren’t too interesting, but I am sure they’re healthy. Papaya was also pretty common, but to me papaya tastes like a foot bath.
Onward we go! We had some korma and curry. Some “barbecue”also! Though, this is a very new concept for India. They didn’t quite understand that they’re supposed to cook it at your table, not cook it, then put it over a little heat at your table. However, it turns out that grilled pineapple is so, so good. As are corn kernels covered in corn flour and fried. Even Chinese food is better in India! I was told that China doesn’t serve chow mein, but India does. Boom!
The Chinese food also came with peanuts, so I immediately fell in love. They weren’t worried about anyone with peanut allergies. Forget those folks! We had peanuts, and they were delicious! No one even died!
Now, believe it or not, the one thing others and myself had to specifically request were samosas! We couldn’t find them. Apparently, samosas are a Winter food. So, most places didn’t serve them. After some perseverance and battling Warlocks, we found a place that served them. HUZZ- oh, yeah, they weren’t very good. It saddens me to admit it, but I had to add KETCHUP to my samosa to get through it. The only flavouring it had was anise and a couple peas. It was so disappointing; my heart still cries. Though, I like that the seeds kind of look like bugs…. Yes, they “look” like bugs. I dunno.
C’est la vie (translate that to Hindi, please.)
Now, after being pulled around from restaurant to restaurant, I finally decided to be a big girl and face my demons. Or, I should say my intestinal demons. I wanted to try some local street food. After all, we all die, why not speed up the process?
These three men were the little Devils sitting on my shoulder. They kept giving me samples of pakora. Now, I am no masochist, I didn’t try the fried hot pepper. That just seemed like an instant death sentence. I wanted my death to be very slow and very painful. So, I went with the knish-like one. They didn’t know what to tell me they were called, so I pointed and called them knishes, so now these three guys call these knishes. You’re welcome, India.
Indian knishes are delicious. Indian knishes come with raw onion (washed? Doubtful) and a mysterious greenish, blackish spicy liquid in a bag. It kind of looked like I won a fish at a fair and then forgot about him in the back of my dirty truck. Still, I ate the sauce. I ate the onion. I ate the chili pepper it came with. And I ate a total of three knishes over the next 2 days.
Hi- I’m a survivor of death. The contents of my body then came from within to the toilette. When all my guts were gone, all that was left were the cramps of shame. Oh- did I forget to mention that I was subjected to the use of these:
My feet no longer respect me and I will never look at myself in the mirror the same way again.
Do I regret my food adventures, though? Naw. It makes the experience authentic. Not to mention, these bad boys only cost the equivalent of 30 cents and all my dignity. That’s my kinda deal!
When the last day of my journey came, I was very, very sad to go. It was a difficult country to leave behind. But the memories and photos and stories and stomach scarring will never fade.
Just before leaving, I bought a drink at Starbucks. This may sound silly, but 1- it was a mango and soymilk drink, which really made my tummy happy and 2- Starbucks in the airport was pretty much the only Americanized aspect of India, so I had to check that out! For science! My smoothie was yummy and made the trip back a lot easier. Though, I now have a special souvenir from India! Every time I eat, about 20 minutes later everything I ate vacates my body in a fast and burning manner. Thank you, India, you’ve changed me and my life forever.