Food, Beer, and Travel

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Posts Tagged ‘Chennai’

India – Summary

Posted by jwpiper on January 25, 2009

I left for India cocky and proud. The food there taught me a lesson in humility. It is fitting that my last post was after eating at Nazim’s, because this was the meal which started it all. For days I insisted on my normal response to a solitary meal which tweaks the old digestive system – keep on eating as soon as possible as if nothing happened. Turns out this isn’t the best course of action when you have a serious bacterial infection in a foreign country without clean water or facilities. Lesson learned. Well, kinda. Turns out it was something of a good idea to keep eating since my trip was cut short, but that’s a different story.

Keeping on the topic of food, my final days in India were much more of a roler coaster gastronomically speaking. A return trip to Karim solidified it as the best food of the trip. On another day, after eating the worst meal of the entire trip, the Bengali Sweet House (click here to see it on a map) provided a tasty redemption. There I sampled a cardamom nut ice cream served with sweet noodles, good gulab jamon, and the tasty carrot dessert with crushed cashews. Other restaurant experiences in Delhi varied from terrible to decent. At the worst, gravies left out warm all day below a boil at what turned out to be a cockroach infested restaurant (Kake da Hotel) couldn’t have possibly helped my stomach. And the pizza I had at an Indo-Italian (aka, bad Italian) restaurant certainly wasn’t the best way to end my trip to Delhi, but that’s a different story.

The hotel in Chennai, however, provided some good recovery food with fresh yogurt and fruit (something which didn’t often present itself in Delhi) – including pommegranate seeds, apples, pears, passion fruit, pineapple, figs, papaya, etc. Of course, eating a kilogram of fresh fruit caused some discomfort for the rest of the day before my return trip to the US.

Aside from the food, the biggest differences I noted upon landing in Chennai were the blue skies and slightly more orderly traffic. Delhi had some beautiful days while we were there – but never did you see the blue sky or bright sun. Everything was filtered through the thickest brown fog – much worse than anything I’ve seen in LA and purportedly worse even than the largest cities in China. The food was also certainly different, but my exposure was limited because the trip was shortened and my stomach demanded a respite from the deluge I had thrown at it for more than a week.

In all, this will be a memorable trip. I won’t soon forget the auto-rickshaw (or “auto”) rides which started with me getting punched by a beggar and almost ended in a wreck or fight in the street. I won’t soon forget that its possible to fit five people onto a small motorcycle. I won’t soon forget that large Indian travelers don’t have the same arm-rest etiquette as large American travelers do, nor that seat 22F on the Boeing 777-200ER does not allow you to stretch your legs during the 14.5 hour flight from Delhi to Newark. And I won’t soon forget that any travel case devoid of a powerful anti-biotic is one which shouldn’t touch down in India.


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