There are millions and trillions of articles on the net about travel and food experiences. So much so that at one point you don’t feel the need to travel, all your curiosity is satiated by just binging on images and articles one after the other.
But there is so much we miss out ( If you love/like to travel and eat ) if we just travel like a tourist and not like a traveler. For those of you who find their cozy homes sufficient experience enough, cheers mate. No hard feelings, no judging.
Cultural perspective…This is something I’ve thought about a lot, but never expressed verbally. Cultural encounters – They’ve just been there. Omnipresent ever since school. I’ve had a chance to befriend people from varied backgrounds – Jains, Christians, Muslims, Punjabis, Marwaris, Bengalis – and also those who speak telagu, tamil, malyali, assami etc.
In all this, It was probably me who got attracted to different cultures and languages because I always had this, well I like to think of it as an inherent trait – I was always curious about what was it that differentiated me from them. In the lunch break, I was befuddled on seeing a vegetable or sabzi made out of “papad’ as it is common in Jain, Marwari households.
Or to savour the typical Sindhi ” Dal Pakwan “, to gorge on the freshly made ” Chamcham” made by the mother of a dear Bengali friend. I remember feeling so genuinely happy when I was invited to the home of a Muslim friend during Eid, and I cannot tell you how succulent the “Sheer Korma and Biryani” was.
During graduation, once we had celebrated Christmas with christian friends, all with cake and wine. And now every year Punekars flock to Camp and East street area to Marzorin for plum cakes and church visits.
I have relatives who have settled in South India and the Idli and dosas and Putharekallus are an all time must-eats whenever I go. The typical South Indian fare where you are served food on a banana leaf was a delight at Hampi – Under the Banyan Tree. I’ve literally recommended it to anyone who uttered the word ‘Hampi’.
Recently, I’ve added proper Punjabi ” Rajma Chawal and Chicken” to the ever growing list of tasting authentic food. Yaay. Off the list 😛
Food constitutes an important part of any culture, If you want to get to know the culture really well, try getting yourself invited to one of their dinners or during some celebration.
During Rajasthan, Himachal and Uttarakhand travels, I learnt so much about the local delicacies. The parathas are wayyy different from what we get here in Pune. I remember we had a friend who was North Indian and her mother used to send her the most yummylicious tantalizing parathas ever. We switched tiffins everyday because she wanted to eat ours while we were dying to get our hands of the typical “Poli-tup and Goad-Bhaji” of Maharastrians.
The Dal bati, ker Sangri, even the papad they make tasted different. You could not look at me and say I finished almost 90% of this thali. The most authentic perhaps, this at a small restaurant as we entered Rajasthan.
I want to go back to Uttarakhand again. Not as a job or due to work but for leisure. I could say I couldn’t fully give justice to what the state had to offer. Also the funny looking Bal Mithai whilst we were at Himachal caught my eyes and even though my other two travel companions were reluctant to try it, I knew I wanted to grab one. And it tasted just right ! Funnily enough, you need to let the feeling sink in as it takes a while to get used to the seemingly chocolaty-sugarcoated taste.
I wish I had clicked a picture of the dinghy shops selling stacks of mithais of unknown textures and colors, all of which looked like a image pasted from a story book.
Bal Mithai –
Sometime last year, I heard a colleague who is a native of Assam, raving about a type of fish that’s baked in some leaves which they get only there. Man the way his eyes lit up made me want to teleport there at that instant !
That’s what makes it special. The way my eyes lit up on explaining Puranpoli and Amrakhanda and Modak to some one else is the same way I feel on hearing someone else describe their native cultural food.
Food always paved way to bring families together, to keep the traditions alive. Sometimes, traditions feel rigid, but food always sets the atmosphere right.
Recently, I visited a Gurudwara here in Pune and as you enter the gate, you feel different. It does not feel a part of Pune that I live everyday. It feels as if I am in some part of North India. With the traditional devotional songs and music softly cascading in the background..the all white marble structure was standing tall and serene in the hustle and bustle of the city. You could see ‘ Kattar’ Sikhs with their traditional attire and a “Khanjar” tied to their waist. To enter, you had to cover your head and dip your feet in a narrow column of water which was fixated just near the entrance steps. I felt different. I had never done this before..covered my head or anything. It made me a part of something that I was not earlier. It was all this which made it such an eye opening sight. We missed the langar but satiated our Chole Bhature cravings at Mona foods later. 😛
This is not just limited to Indian Cultures, Cuisines and Traditions. I have grown up reading Enid Blytons – Famous Five and trust me when I say, the way she describes the culture and the food and their travels makes you hungry and curious !
I just love how each book has mouth-watering,mind-boggling descriptions of breakfast scenes. Scones, filled with jam and topped with cream, loaves of bread, freshly brewed coffee, raspberry, blueberry what not tarts, buns, cookies, bacon, eggs all of the medley. This fascination continued to many more books – Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings where there was a generous amount of ‘food porn’.
Legit English Breakfast at Barometer-
There have been so many new restaurants opening in Pune over the past couple of years. Thank god for that. Other wise, how will I ever have tasted the New York Cheesecake, or the painstakingly made French Macaroons, or the Spanish Churros ? There is soooo much to explore. There is so much to eat and not enough money by the end of the month. I honesty could save so much money if I wasn’t guilty of being gluttonous from time to time 😛
Churros at Vonka..Karishma Society Kothrud.
During the school years, there was tremendous influence of the American and British culture. All the Thanksgiving, Guy Fawkes Day, Lent, Easter continued to fascinate me. Because all I kept reading and watching was Hannah Montana, Olsen Twins, High School Musical, Harry Potter and not to mention all the cartoons on CN. All I wanted was to dye my hair blonde, eat fries and burgers all day, topped with ‘ Yorkshire pudding and Pumpkin juice’ and also croissants. Soft chocolate filled wonders. Recently I have had a yummy chocolaty one at Pastry Corner. Go try !
I also remember the first taste of ‘Grapes and Cheese’ I had. I couldn’t forget that one ever. And day before yesterday, I was besides joy.
I literally just ate that,and ignored all the Chicken, Mutton and Fish.
I love watching movies like Ratatouille , Julie and Julia, oh and also Eat, Pray, Love.
Conde Nast Traveler and travel shows which are food centric as well, like Far flung with Gary Mehigan and David Rocco’s Dolce Vita and Dolce India are a treat for the eyes.
There is boundless information about cuisines, languages, cultures, dresses, ambiance, styles of serving, styles of eating.
Something new fascinates me every month, year. Like this year, I’ve really taken a liking to craft beers and home breweries.
All this has so much to offer in terms of culture, cuisine, travelling and knowledge. Even though one might not get to travel to all the haute cuisine centric places, these entertainment platforms sure give a way for fantasizing and how.
Ps. There are Parsi Agiaries in Pune and somewhere in camp there is a shop which serves Chicken Samosas. Date, anyone ? 😉