28 Mar 2008

Enjoying local cuisine

Spent the day in Fort Kochi while returning from Kerala wandering the streets looking for such knick knacks as enamel mugs. A wanted to try out some local cuisine (in this case meen moily) for lunch.

It took us seven restaurants and a 45 minute walk around Fort Kochi on which I kept insisting that there is no point in looking for Kerala food. Finally we climbed four flights up to a roof top place which served the fish Kerala Style.

I am not a great fan of local food in touristy places in India since they rarely serve it and even if they do - it is in a bastardized form. The best way to taste local cuisine is at someone's home or with a traditional cook.

I remember traveling to Udipi where we had a full meal (on a banana leaf) in a temple kitchen with the ingredients being made in front of us. Another time when I stayed in Mizoram, we just had home cooked food for an entire month. Its a different matter that by the end I had had enough pork for a lifetime!

But otherwise when traveling in India, popular destinations (Pushkar, Manali, Goa) have very few options for cheap authentic local cuisine. Most restaurants serve Italian, Israeli and Chinese dishes. In fact Indian Chinese is the most popular cuisine on offer. This is in contrast with places like Paris or Istanbul where local food is a big thing on your list of things to do.

In India places which serve local stuff are either tucked away in some crowded market (Karim's) or very expensive/inaccessible (Chokhi Dhani, Vishala). Most touristy places are happier serving foreigners with their own food.

But I am not complaining too much since I get to eat hummus once in a while.


Abhishek said...

Absolutely true! I am also very intrigued with cultural blandness that is so prevalant in our tourist destinations now. I went to Maharashtra and roamed around and could not get a real good vada pao! Ny friends laughed at me for my search of vada pao.

I like reading your blogs. Keep it up!

ifnotme said...

hey thanks

great to hear from you !