As with any country that one travels to there are always the warnings that are dished out to you, be careful of this and that, don’t go here or there and so on it goes. The most common of these warnings is always food and water, no matter where you are traveling. Out of all my trips no warning has ever been this strong on the food and water subject as prior to this India trip. It’s sounded like a no-go zone.
Arriving in Kasmir, I could see why as the decay of the urban landscape began to unfold in front of me on a daily basis. But there was no escaping it; I was to be part of it, drawn right into the swirling cauldron of this downward spiralling mess that seems to be gaining momentum. The first few weeks I have been trapped in a valley and have had little option of escaping the reality of backstreet life in India. Caught between massive snow capped mountain ranges, occasionally I have broken free and headed into the hills as another valley opens and gives me a short respite from the madness. The truck stops, raw sewerage, kilometre after kilometre of garbage strewn from the windows of the thousands of vehicles that travel the roads on a daily basis.
Between all of this I have found a simple but tasty food culture, one that, believe it or not has grown on me. Out of the dirtiest fly infested mountainside truck stops, have come some really tasty meals, simple but well crafted. The food consists of a choice of rice or Chapatti (a baked flat bread) then there is the selection of side dishes, dhal, curd stewed with onions and peppers, fried vegetables, stewed potato, and many other variations of fresh vegetable dishes. In bigger towns you will find curried eggs, and then the classic meat and poultry dishes. Everything is served on a tin plate with a jug of local water.
On entering Punjab, the food has really gone up a notch. Here you can see that the folk are well fed and noticeably, let’s say, have a weight advantage. This area has stood out as having the best food to date. The street hawkers have also a bigger variety of deep-fried goods as well as lots of little confectionery stands, selling biscuits and home made sweets that look like fudge. I have reserved the sweet tasting session for the next week on the road. So to date, the water and food has been good to us.