I travelled through parts of Australia, USA, UK, Italy and Copenhagen this year. A good friend also had a travelling year, moving through China, Mongolia, Russia, Poland and Turkey. She backpacked whilst I stayed mainly with family and friends. We met up in Mysore and one of her first question was. “What was your best Food experience?”
Her question took me off guard because she’s not even Asian (she’s a blonde Australian). Then I remembered that she thinks and talks about food like a true Singaporean. I was slightly ashamed because I couldn’t answer her. Aside from excellent home-cooked food, I had nothing else from 6 months of travel that I would rave about. She on the other hand, had many food stories to share.
I have now been in Mysore for almost a month … and I have more food here, that I happily re-taste in my head, versus anywhere else this year. What could be the reason for that?
After much deliberation, over a few dosas and chai, my conclusion is that Food experiences are inversely proportional to a country’s GDP. By this I mean that the more developed a country is, the less of a thrill you get from the food there.
Let me establish my baseline though. I am not a fan of gourmet food or fine dining experiences. I love street food and places which locals frequent ie ‘’secret’’ places that not listed in the Lonely Planet because locals don’t want them to be over-run by tourists. Yes, I am cheap!
There is great hawker food in Singapore but it cannot compare to certain dishes I have had in Malaysia. My friend used to plan our driving trips up to KL based on the number of food places we would hit. It made her very upset that there were not enough meals a day to eat all the food that we wanted. This was based on eating 5 meals a day and the fact that we were not trying any new places. Does the level of hygiene make a difference? Possibly. Many people have bemoaned the drop in the taste of food in Singapore when the health authority became stricter on cleanliness ratings and hawkers had to switch from charcoal fire to gas/electric burners etc.
My favourite place this trip to Mysore has been a little dark Hotel (ie restaurant) – called Country Hotel Cuisine. I order the same thing every time I go - Ragi Dosa, which is made from a Millet (versus Rice) and Lentil mix. This dosa is heartier, with more texture. It is served with a very tasty Sagu (vegetable stew) and coconut chutney. My research has taught me that the earlier you go, the lighter and fluffier the dosa is. I’m not exactly sure why. Perhaps it’s because more oil accumulates as more dosas are cooked on the huge dosa pan?
I have also realised that I haven’t written in a while because nothing has inspired me so far. A good meal is always an inspiration though … which is why I have been for Ragi dosa 5 times since I arrived in Mysore :o) YUMMY!!!
Here is a picture of this morning’s Ragi Dosa. I apologise for how unappetising it looks .. I forgot that I wanted to take a photo in my eagerness to eat it .. so you’ll have to settle for a photo of an assembled half-eaten one.
PS. I have also completed my 7th Christmas stocking, in record time. Finally I have learnt that picking an easier pattern makes all the difference