Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Charms of Street Food

There is something about food on the street side that tingles the senses within. A sense of desire, an invitation and a battle of the mind vs. heart. The heart always indicates a want to go, when the mind rules over it. Thanks to the unnecessary sophistication of education, and its emphasis on hygiene. But I know where my heart is, always. Every single time I cross them, they play hell with my blood pressure. Rarely, very rarely, does the heart rule over the mind and I go on to experience the bliss by the road.

If there is always a sense of deep love for food, then for the street food it is an amorous lust in me. There are no menu cards here, nor a starter bus to the destination. Nor does he care about providing any decent ambience  and well-served etiquette. Quiz him about a finger bowl, don't care explain to him, he would most likely sell a lime juice for it and charge you ten bucks for it. I don't get here a foreplay of refined tasting session, nor do I go looking for it. But everytime I get to experience an exasperating journey of a culinary delights that sure leaves me wanting for more..

One of the greatest pleasures for me in having stuff by the road is to see him at work.For sure, he doesn't himself back.If there is a moral dilemma between more and less, for him it's always that one spoon extra. Be it the extra Chaat masala, or the chilly or the butter, it's always that little bit exttraaa. And right through the time watching him at work, I work overload to control that irresistible urge to splurge into it. He sure doesn't operate on a fixed recipe book with teaspoons in it, its his hand-eye coordination that works magic. It's mad. It's beautiful.

The kind of ease with which he goes about his profession invariably draws me into it. I ask him to add more (never less huh) onions/chillies as I fantasize it to be, the kind I will never be comfortable asking him to add more olives in a thin crust pizza. If it has no olives, that's HOW it is supposed to be had. But this chotu on the road is all mine, it's like sitting on a plane in the aisle seat, when the person behind has to accept it for what it is.  

Also, there is an inverse proportionate ratio I find with the quality of the food with the increasing complexity of the place. Like more the similarities between a Punjabi girl with Anuska Sharma before marriage, more the chances of her becoming a mega version of a Mayawati or a Mamata Di. The farther you take the chotu from his neighours from the sty, the faster he becomes proficient in making the Aloo Chaat a Aloo Jat.

There is no greater pleasure than having it at where he has been for the last 5 years, and reliving your childhood when you find a small kid from the tuition carrying an ice cream in his left hand scrambles for the coins with his right for a pani puri. And I don't think there is anything truly rewarding if I manage to get the right amount of people for pani puri, so that I don't have to wait too long till my mouth goes dry, or too less that I still haven't let the tamarind starch my tongue. 

And, if there is one meaningful ban in this country, it is by these people of some utterly useless and pleasure threatening items like a bitter gourd or a raddish. They don't give a damn or pretend to even appease anything apart from your taste buds. There's no recipe of it online, there are no manuals of it, every city has a different taste to the same, every day has a different taste to it. It's not an assembly line at work, it's a human appraisal of delight garlanded with an attitude for the flair. 

When was the last time you truly went out to experience street food? It's just the papyrus that has replaced your nickel preventing you do that. Go on for a nice hop across the streets of your city. You will relive and appreciate countless small things which you've grown blind over.

I just did. Burrrppp

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