Its a bit cliche to say I’m passionate about food….I mean who is’nt, fact is all of us are in varying degrees. I think where I am a little different is that I am equally passionate about sharing the food experiences. Sharing them with like minded people and then enjoying the shared experience with them.
Like all food lovers I have eaten more foods than I can remember, and I remember more foods than I have eaten. Thankfully foods that feature in this blog fall in the first category….😀. The first thing that strikes me about any dish is the honesty behind its preparation, the honesty in ingredient selection the honesty in process and technique. I feel this honesty shines through in a dish no matter how humble. When it comes to dishes that have been codified as a regional speciality I prefer to don a traditionalist cap, reviewing them under a strict narrow lens that doesn’t tolerate deviancy.
I’m not saying that I do not like inventive food, I really do, in fact the whole history of food is peppered with instances of invention and evolution as a result of cross cultural pollination of food customs. All I mean to say is such food requires a very different lens for scrutiny. Maybe a lens that is magnanimous in judging and forgiving.
Food evokes strong memories….memories of people and places and places bring back strong memories of food, a very desirable virtuous cycle. My earliest most pleasurable memories are all about foods, in fact my earliest memories are about food and even today a chance encounter with a certain flavour, or whiff of a certain aroma floods me with memories and transports me to another place in space and time.
Like any other activity a good dish requires passion and expertise. Expertise gained from perseverance and repetition. These qualities ring true for so many food outlets known for their iconic dishes, churned out with passion and expertise every day, day after day. I would like to hopefully discover such institutions, their dishes and the artisans behind them and share the experiences on this blog.
I have felt my own attitude toward’s food change over time from pure acquisition led lust to a more deeper appreciation. There was a time not too long ago when quantity of food was as or sometimes more important than how good the food was, fortunately the lust subsided, replaced by admiration for food, almost divine like in its ability to sustain us…..chicken soup for the soul.
Travel – an exercise in self discovery
Everyone has their reasons to travel, for me travel is the biggest reason, for its own sake as an end into itself. Every time I travel I return a changed person, better hopefully than when I left. The more you see, the greater is the realisation of what remains to be seen.
As with food I find my attitude towards travel has also changed over the years. I have come to admire slow travel experiences as against mindless traversing of land. Rather than cover large regions I would prefer stay longer at a place and experience it more deeply and closely , I guess I am slowing down with age…..slow cooked food and slow travel.
To be reminded of home while travelling is the biggest horror for any inveterate traveller. If the sights and sounds are not foreign enough, if the overall six sense experience is not further away from what you experience at home, then travel is an exercise in futility. I mean that beats the whole purpose of travel. By the same logic the last thing I want to eat when travelling is home food. The more foreign the experience the better.
I have also come to realise that travel helps imbibe inclusiveness, environmental sensitivity and appreciation for cultural diversity better than any classroom training ever would. Travelling for me is also a very humbling experience, it provides a perspective to one’s life, some meaning and context to the cosmic scheme of things.
Someone so rightly put it
“You can never cross a river twice, because its not the same river and you are not the same man”
Rings so true when I revisit a place, even if the place has not changed much in its physical arrangement it feels different. The place evokes emotions different than those attached with that place. The changing emotional responses associated with a place are very insightful in revealing how we have changed as a person.
Mountains are challenging, humbling…..abode of Gods
Mountains are special to me, will always will be. I pine for them like nothing else. Sometimes they take on an adversarial role, someone that needs to be conquered and then in no time in their lofty presence the vanquisher turns vanquished feeling humbled as the pride falls off. At other times they are a tutor providing valuable lessons in humility and selfless existence, but mostly they are a place where we get to meet the clouds and where Gods stay.
A lot of my growing up was around or close to hills and hence mountains occupy the lion’s share of my travel fantasies. Quite simply mountains are the go to place if you want to get away from it all. Mountains for me are about jaw dropping views, awe inspiring fury of nature, trickling brooks that become raging rivers and transitory moods of nature that can make you experience four seasons in one day.
Mountains are also about wet log cabins, romantic narrow winding paths made by man and animal that seem to disappear, smell of pine trees, clouds trapped in forests……….and hot fresh soups.
The food in the mountains is always better than in the plains……at least it feels so. The fresh air and pure water conspire to bring out the most voracious appetites when I am in mountains.
Desert evokes self contemplation……
They say if you want to meet yourself go to the desert. Desert forces you to confront yourself, you have no choice but to come face to face with yourselves. The deathly silence and the sheer monotony of terrain turns you inwards.
Ocean evokes mindfulness……
Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.
– W.H. Auden
Watching ocean waves lapping against rocks or arriving gently on golden sandy beaches fringed with palms reminds me of rhythm of existence. Rhythm that is unceasing and timeless. Oceans are also the biggest metaphor for spiritual reality, each wave and thousands of them manifesting as individuals while always being part of the deeper and only reality that is water, as is man in an ocean of consciousness.
Oceans are also about the spirit of fun and fiesta, latin musical notes and graceful bodies. Oceans are about smell of salted air and gently swaying hammocks, exotic cocktails and grilled seafood that tastes of the sea.
Travelling……a six sense experience.
Though travelling is a purely sensorial experience rooted in the enjoyment of the gross physical as well as subtle it is also transcending of the five senses and provides an experience that is something much more…..almost spiritual. Most of us have been touched by this experience, when faced with the sheer beauty of a place the grand natural setting……. it overwhelms you and you instantly believe in a power that has put this all together.
Such experiences are the true rewards of travel. and without doubt travelling is the most spiritual of all the hedonistic pleasures pursued by man. When one travels he or she explores as much of the inside as outside.
The Hedonistic trap of food and travel…..does it exist
“The more single-mindedly one pursues pleasure, one soon realises
that nothing seems to please anymore”
– Somerset Maugham
It can well be argued and quite forcefully that like all physical pleasures that arouse the senses, even travel and more so food lead to a hedonistic trap. I feel it would depend on how we approach the pursuit of food and travel. If we are ever grateful for what we eat and do so consciously and similarly if we are grateful for what we see, fully respecting the land we traverse we can avoid the trap.