Things you wanted to know but were afraid to ask! FOOD!

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#31 Jan 3rd, 2005, 22:11
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digital drifter what i said was not intended at any particular community. just to second my (correct) observaton that there arnt any habits or sets of them that are valid for the whole nation. (as clvlvr of california also pointed out)

the things you listed were the type which are found chiefly in a certain part of india, as also recognised by some of the more well-travelled (in india), foreign tourists too. there are other habits, which are equally "uncivilized". eg the habit of "paan chewing" and "betel nut juice spitting" so prevalent in bihar, u.p etc.

and by the way the "frankly uncivilized" bit was as regards the "burps" and stuff like that, not at the "customs" like say feeding of the crows. ofcourse if you are the sort who doesnt get grossed out by the aforementioned "habit" (not custom), then i have little to say.

i lived in bangalore for longer than you think (in fact i lived all over india, to a degree most people here would find very hard to match), my south indian friends never had any of the habits - we have been to college trips together - so i saw them in a homely atmosphere too (as different from the "protocols" observed in college). the very rare burp from any of them, unfailingly fetched a "excuse me" or a "i am sorry" or a combinaton of these.

so i concluded that these habits (the disgusting ones anyway, as different from the age old "customs" such as water around the leaf ) were peculiar to only the strata of soceity that has failed to "move on" and "modernize /westernize" themselves, and not to "the community" as a whole. much in the same way, its only (or chiefly) the drivers and coolies of bihar and u.p. who are into the "paan chewing juice spitting" category, not the many I.A.S officers and (such like). do let me know if i was wrong in my inference.

so, now do you see daylight? "gotta aita" ????
#32 Jan 4th, 2005, 00:11
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#32
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Originally Posted by Bengal Tiger
and by the way the "frankly uncivilized" bit was as regards the "burps" and stuff like that, not at the "customs" like say feeding of the crows. ofcourse if you are the sort who doesnt get grossed out by the aforementioned "habit" (not custom), then i have little to say.
strangely enough, I find burping (even from other people) kind of funny and relieving, even. It puts me at ease. But then again, I am a strange one. I recently was walking home and along the sidewalk there was a guy and his friend.. he hocked up a huge spit JUST as I passed by, not on purpose, I just happened to pass by. And I glanced askance and sort of flinched because it was so loud and abrupt. His friend scolded him in such a typical Indian way (a slight sucking in of air between closed lips and an upturned palm pointing at him) with a look like, "don't do that when a girl walks by!" I just thought it was hilarious and couldn't stop laughing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bengal Tiger i lived in bangalore for longer than you think (in fact i lived all over india, to a degree most people here would find very hard to match), my south indian friends never had any of the habits - we have been to college trips together - so i saw them in a homely atmosphere too (as different from the "protocols" observed in college). the very rare burp from any of them, unfailingly fetched a "excuse me" or a "i am sorry" or a combinaton of these.
But see, maybe it's just that your friends are like you. It doesn't mean that they represent the majority of the people in South India.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bengal Tiger ... were peculiar to only the strata of soceity that has failed to "move on" and "modernize /westernize" themselves, and not to "the community" as a whole ...
I've only been in Chennai for 2 months, and I don't have a lot of friends.. and when I see just normal everyday people eating, they aren't very " 'modernized/westernized' ". I don't think the community as a whole has come that far in the way of westernization or whatever. Maybe we shouldn't even be talking about South India as one part of India that is different from the rest. Maybe we should break it right on down to individual cities.. because I hear that Chennai is pretty backwards compared to other major nearby cities.
#33 Jan 4th, 2005, 00:24
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i havent spend a lot ot time in chennai, but yes, its no bangalore.

have you noticed that the ac 3 and 2 tier compartments are cleaner than their 2nd sleeper counterparts? cos people somehow manage to leave behind their..er.. um.. "ways" when they make this economic "aliyah".

havent you seen beggars everywhere in india?
does that mean that all of us are in similar shape? guess not.
same holds for touts. they are to be seen everywhere but dont mean we are all like them.

similarly, just because most peeps follow a few outdated and frankly uncivilized practices , dont mean we all do it. thats why i chose to disagree. 'cos somehow this thread (sometimes) gave the impression that ALL indians need a lesson in basic manners.
#34 Jan 4th, 2005, 05:49
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#34
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Originally Posted by guerik Can anyone tell me how you're meant to eat south indian food? Particularly rasam and that white coconutty stuff -do you mix it with the other food or eat it on it's own or what?
I can eat the dosa part without any problems but am easily confused by side dishes
Here is an unoffical gude to South Indian Thali eating:

Start with Dal. Mix into rice, pick morsels with fingers and yonk them into mouth.

Use finger to wipe some chutney/pickle and lick it daintily..adds to taste. Do not binge..will lead to zapped taste buds.

If you are adventurous and having a big appetite, mix in the pickle/chutney with rice. Pour generous ghee/sunflower oil (I prefer low chol sunf oil) over the rice and chewwith vigour. Drink water after the round.

Next, start with curry/Avial/porial. mix into rice and ...well do the dal thing again.

Next Sambhar. Make a heap of rice. Create a crater in between. Pur Sambhar as per requirement into the crater. Mix uprice well. Pick with fingers and SLURP! Pur ghee to make it richer and slurpier. Crunch papad/popadum/appalam/that-giant-crispy-dough-chip all along.

Next repeat the same with rasam. Only make it slurpier by being generous with the rasam-into-rice-crater take. Picking with fngers would be difficult. So use your inherent skills and collect slurpy rasam-rice into your palms. Cup your palsm to contain the stuff. Bring it to mouth. Gulp it with a loud SLURRRRRP! Suck up all the wetness and smack your lips.

Any thing remaining on your thali? Mix up all and make hard doughy balls and gobble them up!

Finally the piece de resistance...well not really...the curd.

Ignore it if you hate yoghurt.

if you like it...mix with rice, slurp...et all. Add a dash of lime pickle to make it livelier.

Wash hands. Drink water and belch as loud as you can. Thank about 1.34 million Gods (should be able to cover the important ones).

Buy some antacid.

But seriously... the simple rules to Southie fooding:

Anything can be mixed with rice as long as you like it. Rice is a staple...mix and eat.

Try one item after the other, rather than mixing all at once. I find many people doing this, but frankly, it kills the art...and my appetite.

Start with dal/poriyal (stri fried veggies).

keep the yoghurt to the end. Helps in cleansing your tastebuds of any fiery content. Great equalizer.

Have a riot with poppadoms. Absolutely no rule when and how to eat.

Pickles go well with dal, poruyal and yoghurt.

Andhra pickles must be mixed with rice wholesome. They have their own taste. Grease rice/pickle mix with ghee or oil. Makes it easier to swallow...and less fiery.

Buy an antacid.
...and I took the road less travelled.
#35 Jan 4th, 2005, 05:51
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That was really interesting, especially nice to see informative issues tinged with a sense of humour.

I am seriously thinking of visiting India because I need to shift some of the extra weight which has mysteriously piled on over Christmas, and by the time I remember what I should and should not be doing, meal times will be over. Bingo! - the easy way to diet
Hamanda
#36 Jan 4th, 2005, 06:13
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#36
Hello Rangss

When I was first shown to finish off with the rice and curd a liberal amount of sugar was added, so I got in that habbit! Helps to make sure, along with all thet Ghee, that the meal isn't too healthy

Any special advice on the washing or pouring of water over hands before and after the meal?
~
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#37 Jan 4th, 2005, 06:16
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#37
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Originally Posted by Bengal Tiger i havent spend a lot ot time in chennai, but yes, its no bangalore.
I'm not sure what you mean by that, but would the traditional advice about holes and not continuing to dig once one is in one apply? Maybe?
#38 Jan 4th, 2005, 06:49
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#38
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Originally Posted by Nick-H Hello Rangss

When I was first shown to finish off with the rice and curd a liberal amount of sugar was added, so I got in that habbit! Helps to make sure, along with all thet Ghee, that the meal isn't too healthy

Any special advice on the washing or pouring of water over hands before and after the meal?
hold it...hold it...this isn't an elaborate Japanese Tea ritual...washing hands??? Well wash it the way you wash normally would to have a clean pair...all of the palms and fingers and between the fingers too. Rice has this testing habit of drying fast. So if you happen to have rice stuck to your hands and it has dried...SCRUB.
#39 Jan 4th, 2005, 07:04
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#39
[QUOTE=Nick When I was first shown to finish off with the rice and curd a liberal amount of sugar was added, so I got in that habbit! Helps to make sure, along with all thet Ghee, that the meal isn't [I]too[/I] healthy
QUOTE]

After dinner at someone's home in Thekkady, I was introduced to 'banana mash' - rice, curd, sugar and bananas. Just squish it all up with your fingers and enjoy! Yummy and therapeutic.
#40 Jan 4th, 2005, 09:37
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originally posted by solostyle "Maybe we should break it right on down to individual cities.. because I hear that Chennai is pretty backwards compared to other major nearby cities."

and then by nick "but would the traditional advice about holes and not continuing to dig once one is in one apply? maybe? "

well maybe not. cos chennai is no bangalore. like bangalore is no chennai.or delhi is no goa.or goa is no gantok etc etc.

chennai's backwardness here is in terms of things like "software and tech. based companies", "the hep-ness and level of sophistication of the typical saturday and/or typical college going crowds" and "higher propensity of finding a person, out of say every 100 met, who knows the name of bruce dickinson's original band or some of the many names that ian anderson and co. used, before the Jethro Tull name stuck, or even the name of beth liebling's band (i hope you know the answers to these 3)". on these 3 fronts there is not a single indian city, (save perhaps hydrabad on the first of these, bombay on the last two, and calcutta on the last), which can take on bangalore. these difference ofcourse were made somewhere in the last 12 years or so, when bangalore stepped on the I.T. pedal.

the rumours that solostyle heard doing the rounds about chennai being backward are not for nothing.though its the "sole" metro cty from that side of india, its pretty much fallen behind, like so many other indan cities have, and allowed bangalore the lead. the other reason chena is backward, is that it has a far more traditonalist soceity then any other i know in india, let alone a trend concious city like bangalore.

most likely, i spend more days in bangalore than you have spent on the subcontnent. also likely is that i have a lot many more friends (and acquaintences of age group 10-60) from both places than most have from the rest of india. so i know.

the time i spent in chennai, by the way is a measely 2 months or so as compared to the good 4 years in bangalore.
#41 Jan 4th, 2005, 09:39
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Eating food with my fingers was one of the joys of India for me. I ate less and enjoyed it more than I do eating "properly" with utensils at home. Part of it might be that I so enjoyed flouting the western tabu about touching any "wet" food with your hands. One of my Indian friends told me that when he ate with a spoon he didn't feel like he could taste it. Must be about getting that little package of intreging smells right up under your nose. Freaked my children silly when I came back, cooked a meal for us and ate with my fingers in front of them!
#42 Jan 4th, 2005, 16:48
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#42
I've never heard of Bruce Dickinson or Beth Liebling, although I have to admit to having seen Jethro Tull a long, long time ago.

Sounds like Chennai's the place for me then
#43 Jan 4th, 2005, 16:50
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#43
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Originally Posted by rangss hold it...hold it...this isn't an elaborate Japanese Tea ritual... ... ... ...
I wasn't thinking so much of the visit to the nearby sink as those occasions on which one gets water poured over one's hands by ones host, or might be expected to do same for a guest
#44 Jan 4th, 2005, 18:51
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#44
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Originally Posted by Bengal Tiger [...]
chennai's backwardness here is in terms of things like "software and tech. based companies", "the hep-ness and level of sophistication of the typical saturday and/or typical college going crowds" and "higher propensity of finding a person, out of say every 100 met, who knows the name [...]
<sound of jaw-dropping to the floor>

aaargh!

Bengal Tiger, you're being very diplomatic, aren't you? This is about
the worst tripe I've heard about a place which you've spent 2 months!

Where do I start about all the nonsense you wrote? About the 3
persons you wrote, I don't know anyone nor what they do. What are
they, some good samaritans who helped India become civilized? Does
that make me & my ilk 'backward', 'uncool', 'un-hep'? Of course,
we're country bumpkins! We are & quite proud of it. Ever heard of
'cultural relativism'? Go figure.

Dammit man, this is the most incendiary post of yours on this thread
so far. Your platitudes in the post aside, just do a thought
experiment. Replace Madras with Calcutta in your post and read it
again. Feeling better?


IF I feel so incensed about the way you wrote about Madras (& believe
me, I dislike it for a number of reasons with an intensity bordering
on xenophobia) imagine what a native of Madras would feel like?

IF I may offer gratis advice

a) Your choice of language/words reflects the kind of person you are.
Unfortunately on a medium like the Internet, it's very hard to discern
emotion & intent; your words makes you sound like a troll.

b) You need to know a little more about Madras

c) Change the yardstick by which you measure people/places. Some measures are immutable like cleanliness, hygiene etc. but most measures depend on the cultural context. If you ever talk to a Carnatic music fan/musician, their disdain for other forms of music is astounding, bordering on contemptous dismissal. In short, they think *all* other forms of music are equivalent to stone age thumping on rocks & drums. You see, you're *not* the only one who can practise 'cool', 'hepness'; staggering as it might sound to you, they *too* have an opinion.

d) Others have hinted before: Stop digging
#45 Jan 4th, 2005, 19:06
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i have honestly better things to do than find out the "true colours" of madras and the inhabitants thereof...

your chances of knowing the answers to those questions would have been that much more had you been from bangalore....get rid of that (potato? silicon?) chip off your shoulder... just like no individual is perfect...every place also has its plusses and minuses...

meanwhile you can continue thinking that madras is a new york cross paris cross dubai cross eldorado cross what have you. i couldnt care less.

and when you have finished painting the best fantasy you can of madrasians and their burping and many other "frankly uncivilized" habits (mind you not customs.. ths could help you http://dictionary.cambridge.org/), would you, in your, not-quite-so-diplomatic manner, be nice enough, to add that all indans arnt like that ?? thats what my original post was about.. to drive home the point there a lot of decent ndians also exist !!

its been an utmost displeasure, to be misconstrued the way i was.

and now with your permission i will wash my hands off this thread.period.
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