INDIA: SON OF A BEACH (GOAN EDITION)
If you have been reading along for the last few months, you will know that occasionally on the EAT MY GLOBE trip, I have veered away from my foodie quest and headed off somewhere for a bit of a break.
The last time was in early November where a week in Salvador, Brazil provided a respite from my travels even if I did feel like I was about to be mugged at any given moment.
This time around, a week in Goa offered up a chance rest up from the grind of airports and cheap guesthouses and to stay in one place for long enough that I could actually unpack my unfeasibly large rucksack.
After a bit of net research, I chose the area of Cavelossim in South Goa which, compared to the northern resorts of Calungate and Baga with their large hotels, clubs and hordes of young revellers, is relatively unspoiled.
The small, family run hotel I chose provided a secluded location to recharge my batteries and prepare for the last three months of the trip and the other guests, nearly all from the North of the UK, seem to have been both to the hotel and the area on numerous occasions before and made sure I did not dine alone on any night during my stay.
It hardly feels like being in India, which is no surprise as it wasn’t until its independence from Portugal in 1961 and the influence of its former masters still runs deep in many aspects of the state. In the deep loyalty to the Catholic faith, in the names of the people and, of course in the food with its use of chillies, tomatoes, garlic and vinegar.
Given that it is a tourist resort, the food does tend to be tailored towards the visiting Brits and would probably be best described as “tasty” rather than “authentic”. With the restaurants and many shacks on the beautiful beaches offering up as much western and standard curry house food as they did Goan dishes.
That being said, even though I was taking a break, I still managed to get myself invited to a debate on responsible tourism (where the main problems discussed by locals were “Drugs, Child Abuse, Garbage Disposal and The Influx Of Russian Tourists”) after which we were presented with a thali made by a local guesthouse owner which included such local dishes as Chicken Xacuti, Shark Abotik and pomfret cooked in semolina batter.
Even in the restaurants, there was decent food to be had, with fresh fish and seafood being delivered daily by the local fishermen who hauled their catch along the beach every morning. Most restaurants, including the one in my hotel, offered terrifically made tandoori meats, fish and paneer rolled in freshly made breads and, of course, one of the most famous dishes of Goa, the Vindaloo was much in evidence.
Unlike it’s UK counterpart, where the name of the game is to make it as close to eating hydrochloric acid as possible, in Goa, it shows its Portuguese roots with pork meat being marinated in local palm vinegar, cloves, garlic and chilli (a mix of hot red chilli and milder Kashmiri chilli to give colour) before being cooked slowly to a rich, sharp consistency.
After a much needed diversion of the Sun & Sea variety, I am now very firmly back in the harness and about to eat my way around Bangalore for a few days. But, I am not ashamed to say that I rather fell for South Goa and am already planning a return.
The last picture is to show that it is not just in the race to be an economic superpower that India is in a fierce contest with China.