Top five food cliches that I get my goat
5) "The top-note's crysanthemum, the base note's amber"
There are those who start drinking in college. They consume mostly Old Monk Rum. At parties, they finish the Vodka. They prefer beer, but it's not VFM. Then, they start earning money and find their drink. Whisky for the real men and women. Vodka for the others. Beer for those who don't care about labels like real men and women.
Then, there are those who have nary a clue about alcohol. They start drinking wine. And start analysing the bouquets and the legs. You will find them in expensive restaurants and at their homes finding traces of rose-petals, bell-peppers, cut-grass and tobacco in their wines. Humbug. Gets my goat.
The Aga that we know exemplifies this affliction, but he's not the only one. Ketchup is the new chilli. Over the last year, I have seen everything from tempura to steak being smothered by kethup. Why, even pizzas are smothered by ketchup irrespective of the fact that Indian restaurants are already putting a lot of it on the base. However, the worst was when sushi... Ketchup comes at no. 4.
3) "And vegetarian for you, sir, right?"
Under the larger umbrella of 'Do Indians eat meat?'. I was in a Hong Kong restaurant, in the IFC mall, waiting to eat the eight course meal. There was seafood, there were fresh oysters, there was a steak made from Argentinian beef, there was the humble chicken as well - on the pre-set menu. Then, the waiter comes to me and says, "And vegetarian for you, sir, right?". Wrong. Even the thought is revolting.
"Okay, then, normal food, right?"
Just because the hordes of software engineers (largely South Indian, largely from cultured families) and Gujjus (largely tourists, largely eaters of dhoklas) and the intersection of those two sets, can't seem to eat any real food, doesn't mean that Indians don't eat meat. 70% of us do.
However, I can't blame the world. The aforementioned highly visible groups will invariably crunch up their noses and exclaim, "I can't eat anything here. It's a sea-food place", whenever they are in a decent restaurant. Or they will go one step ahead and ask for some curd and some rice to go along with their meal and then devour it with wild abandon. And give rise to such terrible myths.
2) "It's better to waste food in a dustbin rather than in your stomach"
While as a principle, I have a problem with the logic, since I believe that at the margin, food in one's tummy is not a waste while food in the dustbin surely is, this is not about the principle. This is instead about the implication of the principle. Time after time, those who can afford to waste food will over-order, or will serve themselves huge servings at the buffet, only to finish their meals with laden plates and smirks.
After all, "It's better to waste food in a dustbin rather than in your stomach".
1) Dhaba food's great. (If you don't like it, you're a 'pseud'.)
What do I say about this one? A shallow menu, deep garnish of coriander on every dish, huge slabs of tasteless butter put over everything... And that's talking about the positives.
...Unwashed vegetables, bones instead of meat, and that's only the keema I am talking about, two basic tastes - bland or burning hot, rotis with uncooked centres and burnt edges.
Plus, these days, even the prices aren't low. Shacks in the middle of the city, pretending to be dhabas, were always way too pricey for the unconventional fare in unclean plates that they were known for. Now, even the highway dhabas have caught up, charging prices according to the vehicle of the diner. But obviously I can't complain. Reverse snobbery and peer pressure is strong enough.
Incidentally, I went on a two-day trip to Mussourie and realised that there's no such thing as a weekend getaway to Mussourie. The damn journey takes eight hours by road, and you can add time if you decide to sample the local 'cuisine' and take pit-stops on the way.
Yet, among the highlights were the room with our own private terrace at a 60% discount, the 'Black Gold' that I found in the momo shop and the Thukpa I had in a Tibetan restaurant, opposite the SBI on Mall Road. The sweet and sour pork sucked though, as did most of the eggs that I had on the trip. I also took some photos, but they are in someone else's camera so please wait. The travelogue will follow with it.