#3 – Food in India (Gaye)

My greatest worry about coming to India was that my stomach couldn't take the shift in diet.

With pride I report all is well and the food is fabulous. Ben's wife Anjou cooks for the 18 of us - most meals. Prawns, fish, crab, chicken, papadums, chapatis all tasty, gently spiced. Yesterday we went out to eat and I had Thali. Thali is an Indian style platter, made up of a selection of various dishes, served on a dishware. It simply means a round platter used to serve food. The idea behind a Thali is to offer all the 6 different flavors of sweet, salt, bitter, sour, astringent and spicy on one single plate (although the latter two flavors are actually forms of chemesthesis). According to Indian food serving customs, a proper meal should be a perfect balance of all these 6 flavours. My favourite - green banana in coconut milk!

By far the biggest challenge is handling the heat. Most days it climbs over 35 with over 90% humidity. I usually say,"I don't sweat" but all my clothes are wet by mid day. You yearn for a whisper of a breeze or a shady spot. As days go buy though I am acclimating though by day's end my foot are swollen, eyes like sand paper and throat croaky.

Today the last of our tour arrived and we spent the day in Fort Cochin. We had seen some of it the day before at a biennial contemporary art exhibit. On the menu today - church, synagogue, Jain temple. The Jain religion is an off shoot of Buddhism. Our guide in the temple could have competed for the Witch of the East in The Wizard of Oz. She had said no pictures and one poor woman did not hear the instruction. The guide ranted and raved at her, "this is not right, this is not right." The religion itself is intriguing though she was long on ranting and short on information. We watched a couple be married in the Santa Cruz Basilica and were led in song by Jewish members of our group in the oldest functioning synagogue in the Commonwealth - the Paradesi. All of this exploration of religion today is happening in the midst of the Shiva festival. What a rich broth is brewed in this country- I am captivated!

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