Eat To Your Heart's Content


Have you ever relished Golgappas (pani-puri or gupchup) at a restaurant or mall? I'm sure you never liked the taste and got the thrill which you get at eating outside from a thelawala.

That rustic charm with not much hygiene has its own mystique which can't be compared with the artificial ambience of a swanky outlet.

Gorging on piping hot aloo ki tikiya with sonth and palak as well as imli ki chatni (tamarind sauce) at Chandni Chowk, Sarojini Nagar and Shaha dara is far tastier than having the same stuff at a restaurant at upmarket Chanakyapuri or Greater Kailash in the capital.

There's a proverb in Hindi: Aap ruchi khana, par ruchi pahan-na (Eat to your heart's content, wear what others approve). One always loves to eat in a relaxed and unhurried manner. An Urdu proverb articulates it very well: Bistar aur dastar pe jaldbaazi nahin karni chahiye (One should never be in a hurry in bed and at a dining table).

I still remember the out-of-the world sarson ka saag with makke ki roti at an open field at Firozpur, Punjab, in 2006. The dollops of pure ghee added to the aroma and the same thing at a star hotel in Pune is served in such a dull manner that I'm sure, if you've never tried sarson ka saag and makke di roti in a dhaba on an open field in northern India, you'll never be able to imbibe the culinary spirit of this delicacy in an air-conditioned restaurant anywhere in India.

The ingredients, condiments and taste you get at a dhaba or a roadside joint are hard to get at a stylish joint. Moreover, the spoon and fork take away the remaining mojo of the food. I've never understood, how can people eat non-veg items with a fork. How'll you de-bone a fish fillet and a tangdi qabab?

According to the legendary English chef Gordon Ramsay, most of the delicacies in the world are meant to be eaten with fingers to relish them to a T.

A well-cooked piece of baby-pink salmon tastes best when eaten with fingers. Let the snooty people look at you sardonically. Eat salmon, trout or haddock with fingers. Tell me, can you enjoy one of the finest delicacies in the world, sorshe ilish (hilsa in mustard) with a fork and spoon?

Impossible! "It's like making love to a beautiful woman with gloves on" was Clarke Gable's reaction when he was served mustard-hilsa with a fork and spoon at KolkataŹ¼s Great Eastern Hotel.

Food has a direct relation to one's physical and mental well-being. It should therefore be taken in a manner devoid of any frills. Just because you're sitting with your sweetheart on a first date in an elite restaurant having a roasted turkey, eating with a fork and knife is the idiocy of the highest order. You shouldn't regret afterwards that you paid so much yet couldn't relish the food.

To enjoy food, one shouldn't be fussy and fastidious.

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