Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Being a Foodie!

Of late, there have been some variations in my eating habits. Ever since I found myself in a country where manufacturers are required to print nutritional information on all packaged foods, I've begun to study that information carefully before buying anything new. Anything different from the regular bread and peanut butter. The low fat peanut butter, that is to say.

But some things don't come with that information. Food served in restaurants or fresh produce falls into that category. And there are times I forget about nutritional content, although my husband tries his best not to let me do that.

I've discovered a taste for cinnamon. Apparently that is quite popular here. Cinnamon rolls, cinnamon flavoured breakfast cereal (the first thing I ate in the States that I had never had in India - and liked), cinnamon swirl bread, cinnamon and apple flavoured oatmeal or rice cakes, cinnamon melts (that's the newest thing on McDonald's menu), the works. It's sweet, but not too sweet. It's just heavenly.

I've developed a strong liking for Mexican food. When we go out to eat, I used to vouch for Italian, but after a while I realised that most Italian dishes are heavy, and even the pasta that isn't, comes in such huge servings that it appears heavy. Now, of course, any restaurant here will willingly wrap up your leftovers for you, but it's hard to stop eating when you are eating something that delicious. So it seemed to me that Mexican food made more sense. I have come to love chips and salsa, burritos, and beans and rice. That's Mexican rajma-chawal. Deliciously different from, and yet very similar to, its Indian cousin.

And then there is Chicken Tikka Masala. This is something I hardly ever ate in India. Out here, almost every Indian restaurant has a buffet lunch and more often than not, they do feature this dish, and more often than not, I do manage to at least taste it. And it is good. Almost all Indian restaurants I've been to over here mess up some dish or the other, but they all make great Chicken Tikka Masala and great Chana Masala. Oh, and kheer. And the gajar ka halwa. What is different about these two dishes here is that I have yet to come across a restaurant where they garnish it with dry fruit. That's why I like it. In India, everybody puts dry fruit into these and it simply spoils the flavour and the texture for me. Plus, the gajar ka halwa is made with a lot less ghee and khoya, and it's exactly as sweet as I want it to be. None of them make really good rajma or dal makhani, though. Oh well, I settle for my own rajma and, of course, the Mexican rajma.

And yes, of course, the lettuce and grilled chicken sandwiches and salads. This is again something I used to eat almost equally often at Subway in India, and I like it more than ever now. Especially the variants in which they add sweet corn, or beans, or Tortilla chips. You don't necessarily have to go to a Mexican place for that.

And there is Strawberry Shortcake. It is the most wonderful cake I've ever tasted. It beats chocolate truffle for its wonderfully light, melt-in-your-mouth feel and it's flavour, which, by the way, was the reason why I was very reluctant to try it. But I am glad I did. It is at the opposite end of the spectrum when compared to chocolate flavoured cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory, which is extremely heavy and not much to write home about.

This is a place where you can find cuisines from all over the world. I've seen Afghan restaurants and African restaurants. Chinese, Japanese (still cannot muster the courage to try sushi), Indian, Italian, Mexican, Thai, and of course, burger joints every two hundred feet or so. Okay, maybe that is an exaggeration. But it's not too much of an exaggeration. You can find just about anything you want to eat, and if you can't, well, you can definitely find the ingredients and cook it yourself, if you are willing to do that. I have easy access to MDH rajma masala and imli ki chutney. But I miss litchis and chikoos. Those are just about the only things I have not seen in any of those sprawling grocery stores. But other than that, I am in foodie heaven.

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