I foresee a big problem arising as I try to write about my experiences in Indian cuisine over the next month or so. The food here can be delicious and interesting, but it photographs terribly — it often just looks like bowls of brown stew and Indians are not focused much on presentation as far as I can tell. You might have to use your imagination a little.
I have been in Goa for a few days and it actually took almost that long to sample Goan food, which apparently is a dying art. Goa is a tiny territory where one goes to explore India’s beach and hedonistic culture (trance music is not for us, so we steered clear). It is a tiny place with a coconuts, cocohuts, hippy, yogi, and trance seeking tourists, a Portuguese influence (they ruled here for many years), and is probably the only place in India you can wear as little as you want and nobody cares. Oh yes, there are also cows on the beach.
I am embarrassed to admit that my first meal in India consisted of the following at the Delhi airport.
Josh highly encouraged it, despite the fact that I have not eaten McDonalds in memory, so I wouldn’t risk getting sick on my first day as we were waiting for our connecting flight. In a way, it was an Indian meal anyway, as Indian McDonalds do not have beef on the menu (the cow is sacred here). As I write this, I realize that no McDonalds actually have real beef on the menu, but you get my point. I had a McVeggie. Kind of gross, kind of good. McFlurries taste the same.
Anyway, last night we finally made it to a Goan restaurant. We tried two local specialties – pork vindaloo and crab xec xec. The vindaloo was really good. It was like the Indian version of pulled pork. I think vindaloo is typically made with vinegar and garlic but this dish was a little sweet and the pork was very tender. The crab was very spicy and difficult to eat because of the shells, but decent. Afterwards we actually went to a north Indian style restaurant for dessert, but I’ll save Indian sweets for another post.
Oh, one last thing. At the end of a meal you are sometimes handed paan, a betel leaf that aids digestion, freshens your breath, and acts as a palate cleanser. You are meant to chew it for a few minutes and then spit it out. I could only chew it for 15 seconds before spitting it out, but it did work — my breath was fresh. I just learned there are shops that sell these leaves for pennies up to one hundred dollars depending on the type you buy. I will be on the look out.