Kitchen Tour

(in a kitchen -- Songolda, Goa -- with a Bengali chef, so charming and adorable with his ingredients)

Inspired by the curiosity of my father, social grace of my mother and humor of my brother, I almost always try to get into the kitchen of the restaurant we’re eating at. Armed with these family attributes, it’s easy to make friends with chefs and learn new things about food, tradition, and seasons.

With all of our traveling in India so far, we’ve eaten A LOT of food. The good, the bad, the exceptional and once, disturbingly vile – we’ve also discovered things that were only served in specific states, cities and on certain dates. For example, a working guy offered to let us try his pongal (a delicious, mellow savory rice pudding) on a Tuesday morning in Mysore, Karnataka – so we went back to the restaurant the next day to order it – to be informed they only make that dish on Tuesdays . . . We were leaving by Friday! We searched again and again for pongal, answered with bobbling heads and “no no, not today…” and once we left the state of Karnataka, POOF the illusive breakfast item shows up on not a one menu!

This disappearing act is not limited to yummy things – although that’s happened with about 5 other delicious dishes – it also applies to tailors, waiters, travel agents, doctors, school principals, anyone really. You could be working with someone one day, hour or minute and they may completely vanish -- most likely via a motorcycle and friendly wave. No amount of “open” signs, hours of operation or phone calls can hold the folks here down to an expected form of schedule. Thus, it is a journey to get ANYTHING done. Trying to swim in a public pool was like an epic Sufi poem (more on that later.) It’s tastes and experiences like this that have made our time in India so interesting and so different . . .

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