Holiday season is here and bags are packed. Every year some travel bug feasts on my family members and we end up in some random town. So when travel bug bite my brother this year, we ended up in Kota (Have you heard about it? It is a beautiful town in Rajasthan).
Traveling to a place where you have never eaten before is a Food Junkie’s dream destination. To tell you the truth, it is every Indian’s delight. How can you NOT like trying new food items, tell me? Though there might be some exceptions like my brother who has no appreciation for food and thus always judges me on the account of unhealthy street food I eat.
Out on street, the first thing my cousin, who is a resident of Kota, told me was, ‘As long as your taste buds are not used to this city, you shouldn’t take any risk with the street food’. Well, that’s true to every word, I swear. Else there might be some bad consequences.
Coming back to the point, every Indian city has its own street delight. Let me be sure you know exactly what I am talking about when I talk about street food. When somebody mentions street food, you might think about chaat without wasting a moment. Yes, chaat is street food but it is a small portion of the bigger universe.
Street food, as one can understand by the name itself, is food which is sold (but may or may not be made) in streets. It ranges from the light chaats to hearty meals like Daal-baati choorma, Rajma-Chawal, Pulao and Curry. Just anything and everything. The only thing that stands out between a Dhaaba and Street vendors is that these street sellers are too poor to start a dhaaba. But at the same time, due to their easy availability and reasonable prices, they are always a hit among lower to middle class and college going people. Also, the quality of celebrated street food is that it might not be the mainstream found in restaurant menus but it stands as the heartbeat of the city, adored by common people.
In other words, as historic monuments are a must visit in order to study the culture of a city, same way, eating street food and exploring regional arts is also a must to indulge in the culture of a city. It gives a new flavor to life. These things are only known by Street Food Junkies who go out in the streets to rejuvenate their taste buds.
Now, if you are a Street Food Addict or aspiring to be a Street Food analyst (if there is any such thing), you can follow some of these tips in order to enjoy Street Food without mulling over consequences.
- Give your taste bud a little time to get along with the local taste.
Especially if you are not used to local spicy food. Proceed with small amounts at first and build up tolerance to the taste.
- Have you ever played the game ‘Follow the Leader’?
You have to do the same. Follow the crowd and have faith on the locals. They know more than you. If they are avoiding a particular street vendor, it isn’t a time to act all radical. Go with the flow.
- Make sure food is being cooked freshly.
Fresh doesn’t mean something cooked 8 hours earlier and heated in the present time. Sneak peak in the vendor’s utensils to check if he is continuously cooking. If not, this isn’t a place for you.
- How many flies can you count at the counter/the vendor’s utensils?
You know the rule- higher the number of flies-lower the quality-worst the consequences. However tasty the food may seem, if it is already taken by the flies, you shall not claim it.
- Fact-Fruit is healthy. Reality-It depends on circumstances.
Don’t let the worldly pleasure of pre-sliced fruits tempt you. ALWAYS make sure fruits are freshly cut or get it sliced right in front of you. Don’t take the chance with heavenly-looking fruits if you love your stomach.
- Last but not the least, when you are out in the street, keep clean drinking water handy. You shall be a teenage rebel or a liberal minded person. But water is water. It should be clean and hygienic.
There is a lot more to learn in the art of Street Food eating but we believe what the elders have told us, ‘Experience is our true teacher’. Being broke teaches us the art of bargaining, especially if there are no written prices. Loyalty towards a particular street vendor earns us the extra sauce. And a lot more such tricks.
Now, go out in streets and don’t be afraid to try new dishes. In this free country, we have every right to eat the food we want without being judged by those who don’t know anything about the pleasure of street food. Feel gratitude towards these people who feed us Food Junkies.
Also take adequate precautions to fully enjoy the trip and food. You will survive, just like I do every time.
As for me, I’ll go back into the street for another street photography session hiding this eating bug somewhere inside me that will guide me to the final destination- a Street Vendor’s Stall.