For the love of….. Food

Thank God it’s Friday! While many of you may be making great plans for the weekend, I thought to this might be a good time to jot down a note about my favourite holiday location — Goa! [ Day 12 of “One Day, One Blog”]

A plate full of steaming, white, fluffy, fragrant rice sits on my plate. To go with it there is a side dish of spicy prawn curry cooked in coconut gravy and raw mango. An additional accompaniment is some amazing bread with Pork Vindaloo.

The year is 2011 and Chandu and I are at Mum’s Kitchen @ Miramar in Goa, India.

People all over the world visit Goa for its beaches, music, beer and the night markets…. Just to be in a city where you will easily bump into the Katrakis from Greece as the Venkatramans from Chennai. I know of no other place ( especially in India) which is such an eclectic melting pot as Goa. No, I haven’t forgotten Mumbai. What I mean is the probability of meeting diverse surnames under one roof is much higher in Goa than anywhere else.

While Chandu and I love all aspects of Goa, we don’t visit as much as we want to. In 2011, when we spent over a week in Goa, we explored quite a bit of the less touristy places like Big Foot, climbed a few mountains (and by climbed I mean I sat on the back seat of a motorcycle as Chandu drove up exploring the country roads).

Why do we love Goa so much?

For that matter, why do we love vacations so much? It is because of that break from reality where you forgive yourself for not checking mails and responding to every single phone call and whatsapp message that comes your way. You don’t feel guilty for having a house that is not spic and span ( I am clearly talking about other people here). The fact that you didn’t wake up at the crack of dawn does not eat you up. You don’t feel guilty that your child had a meal which was essentially only French fries.

Goa is clearly all that for me. But it is also much more .

  • Goa is tolerance. I realize that the dangers hidden in the dark alley and in the not-so-dark hypocrisy that is part of the fabric of any society are probably there in Goa as well. As a tourist, I am not subjected to those. But this is why I say tolerance; people are not in a hurry. They welcome you with a smile and a lot of warmth. You want to buy booze from a road side shop? You can do that. You want to drink during lunch in a coffee shop? Big deal. Eat beef and pork at one go? No one really cares. So, while I understand that these may be indulgences allowed for me as a tourist, my perception of Goa is that of being tolerant.
  • Goa is food — the best kind of food there is. And this comes from a hardcore beef eating malayalee whose idea of vegetarian food is fish. I think more than anything else this is why Goa is so important for Chandu and me. I honestly believe that the very basis of our relationship — or at least the starting point , is food.

Love, food and Goa

I first visited Goa as part of a college trip. An incredibly long bus ride from Kochi via Bangalore with some of my best friends from engineering college.

All subsequent visits have been with the love of my life, in whose life good food and I vie for 1st place ( smirking smiley, please)

Being brought up in a household that showed love by means of food, for me eating has always been more than some ritual you do 3 times a day.

My Mom used to cook meals that catered to the whims and fancies of each one of us at home.

Healthy stuff for Dad, something with fish for me, really spicy stuff for my sister and rich food for my brother…and then later ONLY non-veg for Chandu and “no-onion-but-anything-else-goes” food for Lachu.

I truly believe it is the mutual love for good food and the commitment it takes to go search for that one exemplary meal experience that brought Chandu and me together.

During our days in XIM, I remember us getting into a rickety bus and travelling all the way in the most hot and humid weather for 62 Kms just to have freshly prepared prawns in a rundown dhaba in Chilika . I am sure Chilika has better restaurants but we just couldn’t afford them during our student days. But let me assure you, the wooden benches, the broken tables, the very below average ambience ( actually, try no ambience) were all worth it for the amazingly fresh prawns we were served at dirt cheap prices.

But this is about the food in Goa….

We went back in early 2017 with my brother’s family. The weather was just too hot to do anything but drink beer and laze around. But we stayed committed to our search for great food in Goa. Below is a compilation of some of the great stuff we have had over the years, after which I have also given my “ Great food in Goa — yet to explore” list.

  1. Mum’s Kitchen — The BEST pork Vindaloo in the world. If you don’t eat pork, try the prawn curry.
  2. Britto’s — Order a couple of beers and have their crab-in-shell.
  3. Martin’s Corner — So these people market themselves as having Sachin’s Favourite dish in the whole of Goa. Crab in Butter Garlic sauce. Of course, I have heard people say that no one can eat one full portion. Clearly , they have not met me. Or Chandu. They have a lovely ambience with a wonderful bar too.
  4. Thallasa — If you read any review about this place, the 1st half would be dedicated to the view. And it is something great. I have had my first taste of Greek food here. Definitely worth trying.
  5. Anjuna Night Market — Flea market, live music and dance and many stalls with cuisines ranging from Italian to Punjabi. Your only job is to have fun!
  6. The Infantaria — Order anything that is there on the menu. I like it all. And if possible, go have their breakfast too.
  7. Cafe Ritz — It’s literally a hole-in-the-wall kinda place. You will not find it on google. They have a fancier place very nearby called “Ritz Classic” So once you find that, just roam around till you find this place. And have their Rawa Pomfret

This is by no means a complete list of the great places in Goa. Over the years, I have forgotten the names of the some of the amazing places we discovered by accident.

And given below is a list I have been collating from a whatsapp forward. I need to cover these in future trips :

  • Curly’s at Anjuna
  • Leda Colva
  • Ourem 88
  • Maracas
  • Casablance ( the night club)

I would love to know about your favourite eateries in Goa.

To my friends from outside India - if you love the spicy fare, do head to Goa. Try and catch Goa in the monsoons. Cheaper rates and has a kind of silent beauty which the world doesn’t get to see much.

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Friends, this is the Day 12 of my odyssey to write one blog EVERY DAY for the month of May 2017. “One Day, One Blog

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