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Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
Outlook.com

Guess What's Coming To Dinner

A spectrum of cuisines and customs. And then, the Air India fare is manna from heaven.

Guess What's Coming To Dinner
Guess What's Coming To Dinner
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

IT is a part of ancient mercantile tradition, going back in time perhaps to the Three Wise Men, kings who brought with them gold, frankincense and myrrh. Through the ages, be it the intrepid voyagers on the silk route, the Arabs in Gujarat and Malabar, or the Taipans of South-east Asia, hospitality overt, often smothering, has been as holy as the very transaction of money and goods itself. Dancing girls, a whole sheep that rotates gently over a campfire, in the amber glow of which fine carpeting is spread, to sit upon and imbibe mellow wine from goblets of gold and silver. The medieval equivalent, perhaps, of today’s fine dining places with their expensive wines, cordon bleu cooking and hushed tones. Fine dining, yes. But all is not cordon bleu. For mores as well as menus change as you traverse the globe.

Take South Africa. I skipped breakfast on the first day of my first visit there, which is why I nodded assent to my host’s suggestion of a three-course meal at lunch. I ought to have looked sharper at him, an extra-large beefy Afrikaner. When the starter arrived, I was nonplussed for a moment, wondering whether they had mixed up my order and served me the main course straight. A lesson well learnt, for prompted by my dislike for food wasted (hark back to childhood exhortations about famines in Ethiopia), I have always attempted, from then on, to locate ‘For the not so hungry’ on the menu. A single dish from the selection is all I can manage.

South Africa also has the tradition of the brie. You have to be an uncompromising carnivore like me to be able to enjoy these open-air barbecue sessions, chunks of beef, fillets of fish and fat pork sausages dripping with mouthwatering sauces. But even I was surprised the first time around at a local Indian household when, after stuffing myself for over three...

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