Thursday, November 18, 2010
Looking For Food In India...
In 2008 I went to Dharamsala, India to volunteer for a few months, where there is a large Tibetan community in exile. I helped design a website for Volunteer Tibet and taught English to monks. Oh and to find myself...This is where the Dalai Lama calls home (in exile at least). I was in a tiny town mostly inhabited by Tibetans but with many Indian owned restaurants. Let me just say I think I like western style Indian food a lot better, the same goes for Chinese food.... I digress but I lost a ton of weight - I could slip my once comfortable fitting jeans down without unbuttoning.
The pic above is what I called 'green poop' (doesn't it look like a cow pooped in my bowl?) it was actually spinach paneer but NOOOOOOO! Vegetables are cooked so much that it was a rare day that I was able to distinguish any in my food. Look at the pea in the 'brown poop' (featured below) - that was one of the lucky days.
It also didn't help when I could see the very unsanitary views of the 'kitchens' - the violations were many and not for the faint of heart but I survived and I didn't go there for the fine cuisine so all in all it was a great experience and I did go to a few days of teachings by the Dalai Lama, completed a 5 day silent meditation retreat, did lots of yoga and I managed not to get food poisoning or at least none that required medical attention.
Now to the 'brown poop', I was eating at a restaurant with a german friend who happened to pass out seconds after finishing dinner. Out cold for at least 3 minutes which is eternal if you don't deal well with emergencies (like me). She ' woke' up feeling incredibly sick but at least she was conscious. All I kept thinking was OMG am I next? Thankfully we hadn't ordered the same thing but needless to say that particular restaurant was checked on my list of places to never return.
I was a temporary vegetarian while I was there, I wish I could say by choice but if the meatless dishes looked like the specimen above imagine what a yak or goat dish would be like? I didn't want to find out. Since my trip I haven't been able to eat Indian food like I used to - something changed. I bought a ton of Indian Cookbooks and some hard to find spices so I could make things back home - they are all still unopened in a closet - black mustard seeds, ramdana, methi and asafoetida - maybe I should give them away.
Well I had many, too many issues trying to find food in Dharamsala so I will share a few more in the future. Stay tuned.....
I had a blog while I was there so if you want to see my many food issues check it out at http://www.justonevolunteer.blogspot.com/