Food

Five days of horrid food

10:36 AM

DH headed to Paris for 5 days last week to attend an award ceremony for retail companies and before leaving Sunday night he told me “I have 5 days of horrible food ahead”
I could not help but laugh, because DH is a picky eater, always have been, and even has some difficulties with South Indian food…ok fine he hates most of it. He likes his food swimming in gravy, preferably a tomato rich gravy, and vegetables dish need to have potatoes in them. Whenever he didn’t like something growing up, his mom would end up making something else for him. So his palate pretty much revolve around a few dishes, and he has no problem living on just dal, aloo-tamatar (potato and tomato gravy) and a few chapati at every meal.
I grew up in a family where food was a big deal, my parents loved to travel, and travelling meant soaking up the local culture as much as possible. It meant venturing out of the comfort zone of steak and steamed veggies with a side of fries. We ate seafood in the Mediterranean area, paella in Spain, Couscous and Tagine in Morocco, got used the the fact olives are served from breakfast in many family owned guest house across Turkey,  Schnitzels and Sausages in Germany, pasta and pizze (plural of pizza if you wonder), we tried sickly sweet dish, spicy ones, weird stuff like tripes…and while as a kid my palate was not always super happy and my parents did find places that sold something more mainstream like roast chicken and fries, we still did try quite a few stuff we would not have tried if we weren’t such an adventurous family.
The taste bud training actually started home, my mom used to make a point of adding new dishes to her repertoire often, my dad loves to cook and added some too. It’s not that we had a big variety of vegetables and meat product to work with, back in my youth produce were vastly seasonal. It’s just that my mom refused to cook potatoes, or leak in just one way over and over again, there are different cooking methods for a reason, grilled offers flavours steamed or boiled can’t, gratins add textures other ways can’t. The idea was to get used to different tastes.
I grew up into a person who has no problem going on a holiday and try locale food. Indian food never was a problem, I never had it home before but when I got introduced to it I was like “Hey something new to try…yay!”
When DH gets introduced to a new food he looks at it suspiciously, and start by thinking “This looks weird…that can’t taste good”, then take a tentative bite and not really enjoying it much. Over the years he got to like Italian food, mostly because pastas are sauce heavy and moist enough for his palate, he has problems eating a pizza though, because it is a bit dry and loaded with cheese.
While he stayed in Switzerland his office canteen was serving the usual Swiss fare of grilled meat or roast chicken with a side of sad looking little veggies, potatoes, pasta or rice as a side serving of starch. Frankly not the best my homeland has to offer…canteen food pretty much sucks the world over. My mom managed to get him to try a fondue once and when I heard that I was surprised, he was even polite telling her it was good, though he confessed later that the smell of hot melted cheese was hard to cope with…but he at least tried it, and fondue is an acquired taste to those who haven’t fallen into the pot in early childhood.
His traumatizing experience with canteen continental food and cheese fondue left him a bit wary of trying more of it. So these 5 days in Paris he located a donner kebab joint as he remembered these from Switzerland and loved them, ate only from there, passed on Dinner at the award ceremony as they served salmon or veal and while hating the idea of fish on his plate he wasn’t adverse to the veal until he realised that in true French style the meat is served still a bit pink in the middle…which to him pretty much equals uncooked. From that moment he could not bring himself to eat it, or even try a bit of it.

Foodies aren’t born, they are made with years of constant taste bud teasing and encouragement to try new things.
The side effect of being a foodie is that one doesn’t do too well with the same food on their plate day after day, no matter the cuisine, and I found myself in that situation the earlier years I lived in India, there wasn’t much choice but eat Indian at every meal due to the lack of seasoning and ingredients to cook something else. DH being a creature of habits when it comes to food has no problem seeing the same food on his plate everyday, but find himself very limited when travelling abroad where Indian food means something different, and comes with a high price tag, he finds himself in a fix trying to find substitutes that would not offend his taste buds in a way I never found myself facing. In a world going global, I find it important for Ishita to learn the same things I learned when it comes to food, and the rule is to try a little bit of everything that lands on her plate, she is still young so my expectations aren’t very high of course, but the rules stands.

3 comments

  1. apple3:30 PM

    I remember the first time I ate pizza. It was a mushroom pizza. With the first bite I realized a few things. For the first time I was eating something which was not fried so it appeared raw and uncooked to me. The cheese stuck to my teeth and the mushroom tasted like grass. The smell of cheese was awful. I wondered "is this THE PIZZA people are soo crazy about". I had heard many things about the wonder food Pizza from my friends. It was something of a novelty in those days. I got the same feeling eating burgers too. The food appeared uncooked and half prepared. Later, I developed a taste for pizzas. Maybe, they have tweaked pizzas and burgers to suit the Indian palate. We need a little bit of oil and spice in everything.



    Indians of my generation especially your husband are used to home cooked food. We look at food as something which somebody prepares for us. Our mothers were housewives and they spoilt us. Eating out was unthinkable in those days so we grew up on our diet of dals, roti, sabzis and rice. Indian food is sometimes overcooked which makes us vary of anything which is slightly half cooked. North Indians also have a thing against fish, they considered it as dirty compared to meat, as per their opinion, the fish eats all kinds of dirt from the river. That is why they also looked down upon fish eaters. I guess that why your husband does nor prefer fish. No offense meant, I just guessed.



    We believe in more the merrier. More colour, more spice, more sweetness. Anything less is not good food. All this makes us picky eaters i guess.

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  2. apple9:15 PM

    I did not choose the pizza. Somebody chose for me. I had absolutely no idea what pizza was and what mushrooms were. That was good twenty years ago. There was one restaurant called Nirulas in Delhi which was the pioneers in western fast food in India. With the coming up of Pizza Hut and Mcdonalds, it has disappeared. Before that I never even been to any restaurant not even for Indian food. Eating at Nirulas was a big thing those days as I gather.


    There is this snob value associated with western fast food among the middle class which I find amusing. People feel proud to proclaim "Oh you know, we went to Mcdonald/Pizza Huts". Pizza or burger is not exactly caviar and coke is not Champagne is it. People move around as if they are in wonderland correcting their English pronunciation while giving orders. There is something about multiplexes, fast food joints etc. which makes Indians go crazy. Any way, they are convenient to fill the stomach while shopping.

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  3. I noticed this hype about Western fast food in India among middle class :)
    I don't fully get it, because it's just convenient food that comes handy when you are shopping or in a hurry. there are many smaller joints in India that doo better burgers than these franchises, but I guess they don't have the same "prestige" associated to them. In Switzerland we only have Mc D, Dominos and Pizza Hut, all ridiculously coslty for the food stuff they offer, you can get better food for the same price as Mc D or even lower in many other places, Pizzas in the two franchises are the oily American style and cost about 3-4 times what a pizza would cost you at a real traditional family owned Italian restaurant :) Needless we only visit these places occasionaly, Mc D is more that place for a quick bit in a busy day or calm an hunger pang after a late movie when nothing else is open, I think most people I know back home don't eat to Mc D more than once or twice a month.

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