The Rich Vegetarian

An Examined Life

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Mem(e)orable Meals!

I am an avid reader of food blogs and The Traveler’s Lunchbox is one of my Favorites that I read regularly. Inspired by its creator Melissa, I thought of the meme below.

Five memorable meals ever eaten: It could be anything that makes the meal memorable – the food, the place, the place you were in your life when you ate, the company, the weather, the ambience – heck, the guy who served the food! So here’s my list.

1. Uttam Da Dhaba, Bombay: Some of my old friends will probably remember the infamous day when we trooped to Uttam for lunch. It was Holi, many years back. The day is engraved in my memory as one of craziness, laughter, and infinite understanding. What made it memorable was also the food. Those were the days of butter chicken and what amazing butter chicken it was! We also ate baingan bharta that day and honestly, I haven’t eaten a better version of the dish till date. Some of us ordered lassi but I didn’t. I’d go back to Uttam in a heartbeat and although butter chicken wouldn’t feature on our menu, the smoked baingan bharta and the huge fluffy nans would have us asking for more – that I’m sure about.

2. Cafe Berlin, Puerto Rico: The weather was fantastic, most of the tourists had left and we had one last afternoon before our flight back to Atlanta. I had heard of Cafe Berlin, a vegetarian restaurant in Old San Juan. We hardly expected to find it but there it was, bang en route to the airport. The food was real basic: pita chips and hummus, eggplant parmesan (maybe). I think we’d ordered a fresh fruit drink as well. On the wall was a motif of a female face with long black hair. The food was superb.

3. J & J’s housewarming lunch: Since we couldn’t cook in the new home (they hadn’t closed yet), we went to Global Mall for lunch. The place is anything but global. It is a mall with stores selling Indian clothes, music and Bollywood film DVDs, restaurants, SAT coaching centers, dance schools, a couple of temples, etc. There were so many of us and so we joined a few tables to sit together. And the food kept coming. South Indian coffee, pani puri, Haandvo, masala chai, spicy Indian Chinese dishes, vegetable pizza, more chaat, masala dosa, and more. I don’t know what it was about the food that day – every thing we ordered was delicious. Probably the people, the day, the event…

4. Kandahar: There were probably just a couple of Indian restaurants in Cairo in 2002-2003 and this was one of them. It was situated in the suburb of Mohandiseen which, if I remember right, actually means ‘engineer’ in Arabic. Honestly, there was nothing memorable about the food. Filo dough cannot be used to make samosas, as we realized sadly on our first visit. One time we were dining, a group of men walked in. One of them was an Indian and he was dressed in the way one imagines a money lender dresses like. Or so I think, based on my knowledge from Hindi films. The guy was wearing gold earrings, an old-fashioned silk kurta, a topi! In 2002, who dresses like that? Even funnier was the hostess. An Egyptian, she wore a saree in the most awkward way possible. I think she just wound it around her waist (zero pleats) and threw the rest of it over her shoulder. I always marvelled at the way she walked and wondered if it’d all unravel…

5. Cafe Mocambo, Bombay – When Pinch and I were in college, we frequented Churchgate ever so often. Buying books off the pavement, browsing through music tapes (Yeah, I am old – those were the days of audio tapes!), watching Hollywood films, eating awesome food. We often went to Mocambo, an old Irani eatery that served fantastic chicken dhansak. So we sat and ate and ate and ate. The cafe was frequented by old Parsi gentlemen and they would sit around on the simple tables, sipping tea and reading newspapers as the busy office-going crowd surged by. Reminds me of ‘Sit’ by Vikram Seth – Geckos, sunshine, and Pinch sitting across me.

I’d like to tag sampada, inspirethoughts, iyer_the_gr8… and any one else who wants to do it!