Posted November 30th, 2000 by Deepa and filed in Food, Personal
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This is a topic which is very close to my heart….closer to my stomach rather…FOOD!!! Let me tell you why i felt like writing this..Just now had a mail from Siddharth saying that the NYC gang has decided to treat the drivers (Seejo And Avneesh) and the finance manager ( who else but moi!!) .We get a chance to pick up any restaurant we want…I was actually thinking where to go when i realised that Seejo and I have exhausted all the restaurants around this place…

One thing common between Seejo and me is that we both love food..(very few things common between us anyway!!). Thats one of the reasons we get along fine!! Actually Seejo himself was quite amazed at the amount of food I devour..(eat is what he puts it as ,but i know gobble is what he means …! I thought i’ll bore you ppl with a desription of “taste of the world”!!!

First let me start with Italian..cos that is where Seejo took me on our first “date”…I loved Italian food primarily because it was dripping in cheese….Lasagna was great ..It has on cheesy layer after another and it just melted in the mouth. Italians also have a great way to make salads ..Their salad dressings too are quite tasty..

Next on the list is Mexican..Most indian students love Mexican food because it is the one which is closest to the Indian palate..It is spicy( well spicier than American food at least!) and most food is based on chapatti like base..They give it dofferent names though ..So you have chalupas,burritos ,tacos ,tortillas ..all of them are chappati like with stuffings of chicken/beef/beans etc..Mexicans eat a lot of beans anyway ..but give me apna frankie anytime!! what wouldn’t i give for a chicken frankie from outside NM!! The items on the menu are funny to pronounce anyway..THey ronounce the “J” as “H” so Jalapeno pepper is Halapeno pepper and baja beans is Baha Beans ..Tortillas are tortiyas and so on…anyway another important plus point in favour of the Mexican cuisine is that it is the it is the best!!:-) “sasta ani masta ”

Indian /Pakistani food ..I do not need to describe but it is the most expensive among all of the cuisines here and the worst thing is that all the curries taste the same at the restaurants here..The Pakistani restaurant has better food than the Indian one( run by a Maharashtrian couple)The ppl at “Maharaja” seem to make the same base for all their curries so it all tastes the same veg or non veg!! Note that this is on he basis of my 6 months stay in US and only sampling the cuisines offered by Charlottesville,

Chinese..Well you might think whats new in Chinese cuisine…we have that all the time but the menu in a Chinese restaurant seems very different from the one back home …Unlike the Singapore noodles and the hongkong noodles and the Manchurians and the Schezwan ..the things that dominate here are the sesame chicken ( my favourite) and General tso’s chicken etc..Chinese food is what has the widest variety ..and they use all possible meats..chicken pork,shrimp, beef ..(My selection is rather limited to chicken and beef!!) i really can’t stand sea food ..and pork is” uh huh well ok types”…The Chinese spring roll though is present and so is the wanton soup….Noodles are quite similar to whats there in India though ..although they have thin and thick noodles! but really bland and much much more oily!!

Most Japanese restaurants are similar to Chinese restaurants..most of them even share common dishes…But the star in Japanese restaurant is Sushi…which is raw fish (remember Aruna!!!) wrapped in a rice roll served with a kind of soy sauce ..There are varieties of sushi available some even have a veg sushi which has cucumber instead of meat…I was very unsure when i tried it but well it was not all that bad….

We went to the German restaurant mainly because of its name Schnitzel..remember Sound of music “schnitzel with noodles ..these are a few of my favouirte things..”Unfourtunately those will certainly not be one of my favoutire things atleast based on this restaurant….German food was quite like English food …seemed like chunks of raw meat with as less seasongings as possible!! But i had venison (deer meat) Which was quite hard actually …with a name like venison and deer meat i thought it would be soft but….deers are welcome for lions and tigers but definitely not for me..The food was quite bland although the waitresses were quite pretty..They were dressed in the Bavarian costume with checked skirt and high breasted blouse with ruffles on the front.!!

Thai food is obviously is spicy…And i loved it Its my favourite next to Indian food atleast for the present…Most of their preparations had coconut milk in it and we even got mangoes for dessert…Thai food has a lot of Tofu in it which is similar to paneer but is not paneer ..It is soyabean curd i think ( I am not sure what!!) Again what we mainly had was chicken and it certainly was spicy!!

The cuisine which i found most similar to Indian was Vietnamese though…Most of their food has a peanut in it or tamarind which is quite similar to South Indian preparations They even had a salad dressing which tasted like pepper rasam!! Their noodles was vermicelli and the chicken curry tasted like the Kerala chicken curry…But its rather impossible to prnounce the names of the dishes ..what we do is like we want one no.120 and one of #56 and two # 544 and one #767 for dessert and that will be all! :-) And they even had a chicken dish which was sort of like kababs!!

Brazilian food tasted differnt than all other cuisnes ..We had chicken stuffed with crab with creamy sauce and it was delicious ..I really could not say that it tasted like so and so or soemthing all i say is that it was GOOD!!! Greek food sounds like greek too ,.what i had was gyros which was croissant like thing stuffed with cheese and chicken…As i said Cheese and chicken is my daily diet!!!

Now to the food of America….The major component of the food is salad which i love. Each salad comes with various types of salad dressings …Mostly when i eat American cuisine i start off with the main course have a course of salads eat the dessert and end with salad again…And my mom says i don’t eat food!!!!The actual food is generally sausages or chicken fried or something stuck between bagels (something like buns)or buns!…Remember how all the books used to rave about mashed potatos I thought it was some recipe but all they do is just boil the potatoes and mash them!! then they have a dish called gravy ..which is nothing but gray with no dishes the Americans certainly are crazy ppl!!!

But the eating expereince I most enjoyed was Ethiopian food. You are seated around a low table and the server gets you one large plate with a large dosa like bread called “injera”and all the dishes are served on that plate. All of you eat from the same plate with your hands ..Similar to the Bohri style of eating. African food has some similarity to Indian cuisine too. They even have a triangular shaped appetizer filled with potatoes and peas called sambusas. The main food …the bread was like a thick dosa and they had different varieties of dal in their vegetarian section. And i must mention the excellent mutton curry that they had.

I could go and and on when it comes to food, so I better stop here.

New York City!!

Posted November 27th, 2000 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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I thought I’ll describe the BIG APPLE to you!! If I described Washington DC as Like Delhi, NYC was undoubtedly like Bombay…The ambience of the city was so much like Mumbai that I felt immediately at home….But I think I am putting the cart before the horse…. We started at 11 p.m. on Friday night… The van was a 15 seater van .By the time we picked up everybody it was almost 12 ..We were just about to say “NYC HERE WE COME” when some smart fellow reminded us that we needed our passports/driving license to enter any bar…”ofcourse how can you miss the swinging night life in NYC…and you say you want to got to NY?. Seemed like a valid point to me so Seejo had to turn all the way back home so that Neelima and I could collect our passports… The start itself was quite disappointing ..We were only half an hour on our way..The music still had not reached full blast and our singing had not yet peaked..but the the holiday mood seemed to have rattled Seejo’s normally calm composure…The van’s speedometer touched 80mph…and lo and behold there were the cops..It was really funny at first for me ‘cos this was the first time the guy was speeding in his life…there was nothing to do but pull over and wait for the emerge from their van..They were polite to begin with ..We wished each other a good day and exchanged how have you beens…Then very politely asked us whether we knew why we had been stopped. Seejo, unfortunately, was in no mood for guessing games so out came the answer at the first guess..”we were speeding a little ” ,he says blandly..The cop didn’t like the choice of the adjective..”A little Hmmmmm.?.his eyebrows are raised…? You were touching 86 mph? ,We did not think that that deserved any answer so we sat silent..The cop then decided to check on the rest of the occupants in the car..asked if there were any minors…and very sweetly asked Seejo to appear in court one day…Seejo was disappointed..”here goes my first parking ticket? he thought..No no he asked “whats the fine?” The cop decided it was the time for a few lessons on speeding and proceeded to give a fine homily on the effects of speeding in as he put it in “such a vehicle”..and he ended with a ” the fine depends on the judge .you might even get a few days in jail”.Stunned silence from all of us

Well that over we proceeded on our way…The talk then mainly revolved around cops and speeding tickets and jali hour or so later decided enough was enough and we started –what we play on all picnics–anthakshari…We slept a bit, chatted a little and before we knew it was New Jersey metro station at 5.30 in the morning.. It was cold and the temperature was around -2 ..After we spent some time freshening up…we boarded a train to New York Penn station..Had breakfast at Burger king …and caught another bus to NYC down town… Our first destination was NYC Liberty island…Believe it or not the place seemed to me like gateway of India..It had some kind of a fort or something overlooking the sea..from where you could catch a boat to go to the Liberty Island (like elephanta caves) Hawkers were there on the roadside selling imported watches and stuff…..and a few beggars too ( I swear seeing those beggars made me feel very nice…,America ke bhikari!!!!)The queues were long and it was almost an hour when we boarded the boat that took us to liberty island..The statue of Liberty is Green in color not white as you might have thought It is hollow on the inside ..The copper sheets were designed and shipped over from France and then reassembled in America..You can actually see that it was cut…and joint…From Liberty island we could see Ellis Island which was actually the immigration center for America..In the 1850’s -1890 ppl used to come to America by boat ,pass Statue of liberty and land at Ellis Island where they were given Citizenship or turned away. Just 2% of the entire ppl who came were turned away… From statue of Liberty our next destination was World Trade centre….We passed Wall Street ,Woolworth Building ,Macys ( it was an entire block!)and several other “known” buldings on our way…NYC by the way is so familiar!!!

On top of the world is what they call the ride to the top of the WTC ..and it really is amazing..From the 108 floor we could see the entire view of NYC..and it was spectacular..I could see the Manhattan bridge ,the Brooklyn Bridge ,Bronx,Brooklyn …I really wanted to go to Brooklyn but the moment I voiced this idea,, the responses ranges from ” are you crazy?,”do you want to be killed?…to blank stares.. PPL I must say have no sense of adventure…!!! By the time we finished the WTC it was past 4 and we were all hungry and cold and tired..What to do next was the question ? An Indian restaurant topped the list of choices…so we headed to a place called Jackson heights…If I told you NYC was like India then Jackson heights was -India,,The moment we came out of the suburban railway station the sights and smells seemed so familiar ..there was the familiar stench of urine at the railway platform, pan stalls ,all the ppl around seemed Indians…(may have been Pakistanis and Bangladeshis ) there were rows and rows of stores selling sarees, salwar kameezes were on display, Indian jewelry stores, sabji mandi…restaurants even a computer training center..Those in India may not really understand what we felt but all those who are here will surely guess how excited we were….All of us was like wow…ppl honking ,talking hindi..for 2 delicious minutes we were all back home…. Anyway we went to an restaurant ..the waiters spoke Hindi!!! I immedietly thought of apna shagun ka waiters!! They had the same uniform…!!!Stuffed ourself with food,,,Amazingly each item tasted different …It was buffet with atlest 12 different kinds of bhajis (veg and non veg) lassi, mangoes(!!!) gulab jamun,raita chutneys…(drool drool drool)..

After which we al l had pan and were too tired to walk… Anyway back to Times Square, NYC to see the dazzling New York at was just 6.30 but it was already so dark that it seemed way into the night. Times square is exactly how they picturize New York …Tons of dazzling neon signs, ppl rushing about…cabs honking …wow!! We walked through Broadway street. it is this big street which has a lot of theatres ..There was Les miserables going on in one…Kiss me Kate in another, Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde in yet another, I was staring open mouthed. Another funny thing I felt about Broadway was there were to types of cars in front of any theatre, either ordinary yellow New York cabs or streeeetttcccch limos…!!! New York streets are so much like Bombay ..Incredibly there were roadside hawkers selling chana,(only they also had cashewnuts to sell too), candyfloss, etc…Of course I bought some.. Siddharth and I kept muttering to each other so much like bbay..When we passed times square ( it was oh! Dadar) ,near Liberty Island( it was this is Gateway) and near the WTC it was (..FORT!!) We then went to the Rockefeller centre and saw the open air ice skating rink…Took a look around the nearby Chrysler building, St.Peters( I think) cathedral…and would you believe it there was a tangawala asking whether we wanted a ride (Nariman point Siddharth and I chorused!!!!) center is a incredibly huge building since most of the city was already in the festive season and decorated for Christmas it all looked very pretty…

During this time a few adventurous guys among us decided seeing such places are not enough was time for action !! So they sped away to see a strip bar..before you ask”why didn?t you go?? The answer is I didn?t know they were going…or try keep me away!!!!… Our last stop for the day was the empire state building. It has this golden top, which looked marvelous at night..I think what I ?ll always like of NYC is the way the Empire State building looked… By this time we were all tired and those who had to drive ( Avneesh and Seejo were already looking askance at any new plans ..kept reminding us that they had to drive ) totally vetoed a night club( Blow all our pass port collection in vain!!)…So we headed back…back to New York Penn station and then to New Jersey. A lot of amusing things happened on the way like ,,,Ppl kept losing themselves in he train ,got off the wrong platforms, the cold winds that made us chilly ,static electricity due to the cold weather and lots of small things…We started back at 1 in the night ,the drive was rather uneventful because most of us slept peacefully…Reached back home at 7.45!! All in all it was really good…Kept thinking of the fact ?Oh I have been to New York!!? Now its time to put my head down and study…don’t plan to lift my head or sleep for the next 15 days….