After 6 months on the continent, I'm a perfectly trained street-eating beast: fast, fit and able to spot a snack vendor at 200 yards, through a foggy, crowded Delhi afternoon, no less. The assortment of foods available is truly astonishing, and I've made it my mission to try them all.
Fresh fruit bursting with sweet nectars, crisp veggies overflowing in colour and abundance, "Chaiiiiiiiiiiii!" stands, lassi stands, soda stands, popcorn stands. Corn roasted fresh over red-hot coals, marinated chicken sizzling aromatically above a homemade portable brazier. Fried dough makes the world go 'round: puris, samosas, jalebis, gulab jamon - I never understood the true potential the combination of flour, water and boiling oil presented, but I've started to perceive the possibilities. Roasted nuts, roasted sweet potato, mix and match your own chat mix - all sprinkled liberally with the ubiquitous masala and splashed with some freshly squeezed lime. Lime is something I'm taking home with me; visitors to my kitchen beware: you will feel the wrath of lime!
Tonight, on our second-to-last night in India, we were treated to the grand finale of street meat eating: the Sikh festival honouring their tenth and final guru, or holy man. The Sikhs as a whole are a rather...portly group, and business success has led to no shortage of caloric intake. They have a very charitable culture, and serving food to those in need is an important part of their faith; at the Golden Temple, their holiest shrine, more than 20 000 visitors are fed daily. Clearly, the Sikhs know how to put on a feast. This afternoon the city was transformed, entire neighborhoods becoming festival grounds, with tents unfurling everywhere, and kitchens being conjured out of thin air. Pots big enough to cook a man bubbled over with all sorts of Punjabi favourites: creamy lentil stews, deep fried sandwiches, assorted curries and sickly sweet treats. A parade appeared, everywhere at once, and the serving of the food commenced. Every stall was thronged with people, but the gringos were always enthusiastically pushed into the crowd, and at every block we emerged happily from the mass of eating bodies with food in hand.
On a completely unrelated note, I've noticed that my stools have been a little loose of late. Hmm, must be something going around...