Friday, February 01, 2008

The Best Things in Life Are Free

Or at least are the ones you aren't required to spend a fortune on. I am a firm believer in this philosophy, when I consider eating outside. When I was in Mumbai, I had been to this local McD where I ate this veggie burger for about Rs 60. Then I had this tangy vada-pav on streets of Kurla for Rs 5. The burger was presented to me with perfectly round slices of onion and tomato with a leaf of lettuce. Vada-pav came with a fried green chilly and a mixture of tamarind and mint chutney. Burger was given in a clean white plate. Vada-pav was handed over to me by the boy directly. Burger was good enough. Vada-pav was smashingly delicious. I did not order second burger. But I had two more vada-pav.

Then there was a case of that famous gol-gappa in Delhi. I have heard this a lot - man you should go to Delhi and eat the gol-gappa there. What you get in Mumbai/Bangalore is a cheap imitation. So when I was in Delhi, I did try my hand at this 2 (or was it 4 I don't remember) pieces for Rs 10 variation. People around me, seemingly local, were enjoying it. But I did not like it a bit. It did not have the trademark peas, the water was tasteless and the potato mixture it had was totally bland. Again compared that to 6 pieces for Rs 5 at my local Pani-Puri-wala, whose smashed peas mixture and spicy water makes your eyes and nose water besides your mouth; I'd have chosen the cheaper but much better version any day. Don't ask me about Bangalore pani puri though. :-)

There are a lot of examples to support this. Like Rs 50 Shivsagar Pav-bhaji (which in my opinion is simply riding on Madhuri Dixit's name) or Rs 20-30 Pav Bhaji at any other place. Like Chinese restaurant serving you expensive but boring chop-suey and a roadside Chinese gadi wala giving you much better version of that. Like Rs 50 for two pieces of idlis at the food mall at Bombay-Puna Expressway or a complete package of idli-dosa-chuney for two at the same price on roads of Chennai. Simply heaven!

Clearly this philosophy is not for the weak hearted and weak stomached. One must go against all the rules of cleanliness and health risks associated while having such food. But once you overcome that, roadside food trumps, beats the heck out of, kicks that snooty butt of any 'clean' restaurant food.

signing off,

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