Thursday, August 19, 2010

Gastronomic Adventures

Just sharing three loosly related stories, not by any means the most skillfully written blog entry but I'm sure you'll enjoy these stories. Especially those of you who are familiar with my highly peculiar eating habits including my ability to forget to eat. In Sri Lanka almost every conversation begins with an inquiry as to whether or not you have eaten and to someone such as myself who easily has some of the worst eating habits known to man this is quite a frustrating question.

My frustration also extends to their inability to comprehend the concept of no - most of the Sinhala I have learnt thus far is just different ways of refusing food because as you are telling them no they will pour tea or take out food for you. No just doesn't mean no in South Asia.

And now without further ado - Gastronomic Adventures 1-3.

Adventure #1
On the first day to work, the driver cautions me that I should be careful not to eat everywhere and points out a good pastry shop that I should eat from. On day one, I visit the aforementioned location and get pastries to go from the display case - I take them back to work and enjoy them in the comfort of my office.

The next day however, I decided I felt like sitting and eating in the store. So after selecting my lunch at the window I was directed inside to the seating area. There were two tables and off to another side, there was living room suite and a coffee table. I was seated at the coffee table.

Instead of bringing my order, the waitress had placed an assortment of the restaurant's fare on two plates and set before me. I reached for the items I had originally ordered and stared in horror as a horde of flies began to rest on what was left on the platters. Those who know me are well aware of how scornful I can be and thus this sight immediately put an end to my appetite. I chugged the juice I had ordered and requested the bill, claiming that what I had ordered was a lot spicier than I had expected (which was also true - who puts whole chillies in an omelette?).

As I exited the restaurant I observed the waitress placing the food upon which the flies had just partied back into the display case - needless to say I won't be eating there anymore.

Adventure #2
Now, I enjoy curry as much as the next person. No, I stand corrected - given my Guyanese heritage and status as an honorary brown person I enjoy curry more than the average person but I draw the line at rice and curry three times a day.

Now, I've had occasion to warm left over curry for breakfast but never have I set out to prepare rice and curry for breakfast. I've never run down the options as cereal, toast or..oh yeah fish curry. Yet, this is common practice in Sri Lanka and daily I am asked "No rice and curry for breakfast?".

And while I am given at times to hyperbole, this is not one such example. I am genuinely asked daily about whether or not I am eating. And several people find it necessary to come into my office and ask me when I am eating, and if I am having rice and curry.

I did however have a most entertaining conversation with a colleague who noted my extremely thin size and noted that should I eat like a Sri Lankan i.e rice and curry for breakfast lunch and dinner I could easily gain a significant amount of weight over the next twelve months.

Adventure #3
At the beginning of the third year ahead of co-op we are cautioned about expectations - the high expectations that people will have of us and also to be wary of having expectations of the field.

Apparently, the caution re: expectations extends to food. Yesterday, I had occasion to visit a Chinese restaurant and ordered a vegetable fried rice. Badulla is a small town and it was the first time I had seen a food place offering something other than Sri Lankan fare.

I was terribly excited to take my fried rice home for dinner. It was the first time since move-in where I wouldn't be forced to make dinner on my one burner gas stove, and more importantly it would be a different taste.

I opened up the take out box, and the food was wrapped in the traditional way in cut-rite on the inside of the box. Unfolding the cut-rite, the disappointment that overcame me as I noticed that the rice was not so much fried as steamed and that the only vegetables in it were corn and carrots.

I broke out my frying pan to set about rectifying the situation. I diced some onions, fretted over the fact that I have yet to see bell peppers in Sri Lanka, and threw the rice into a pan with some soy sauce. Not nearly the convenient meal I had envisioned when I purchased my "fried rice" half hour earlier.


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