Eating in India has become a bit of an adventure for me. Since being here, I’ve had my mental image of what constitutes “Indian food” radically altered, and I’ve had to put my “I’ll try anything once” vow to the test several times…

Now, when most people think of Indian food, I’m sure they picture beautiful buffets full of tender meats and succulent vegetables cooked in exotic spices, saffron colored rice piled high and waiters bringing hot garlic naan to the table. That’s what I pictured before coming.

Well, after two months in India, I can conclusively say that it is exactly like that here… At really expensive restaurants.

But I don’t eat at expensive restaurants. I eat at the office. With a bunch of guys from rural Maharastra. These are guys that laughed at me when I mentioned Chicken Tikka Masala (I don’t think I get the joke). And they eat what they’ve always eaten. Real Indian food.

Indresh, our talented cook, with Ulhas in the kitchen preparing dinner.

Indresh, our talented cook, with Ulhas in the kitchen preparing dinner.

I’m pretty sure the conditions in the office kitchen wouldn’t stand up to health code regulations in the States. Everything is prepared on the same stretch of counter. Chapati, veggies, meat… They wipe it down with a cloth every once and a while, but still.

And then there are the critters. We seriously have a family of Uruk-Hai cockroaches living under the fridge. They have no fear of sunlight. Or of humans. I could have sworn that one of them cursed at me when my back was turned.

But they’re not the only species in our kitchen ecosystem. The other day, Pranjal and I were putting our dishes away when a huge rat jumped through the window, ran around the stove and launched himself on top of the cupboards.

“Don’t worry. We’ll kill him tomorrow” he said.

“Oh, ok. Cool.” I replied, laughing.

An average dinner with a few of the office guys.

An average dinner with a few of the office guys.

Usually I’m totally fine with the food I am served. Sure, steamed okra gets a little old three nights in a row, and sometimes the curry is so hot that burping burns three hours later. But generally the food is really good! There have been times, however, when they’ve served up something that I just can’t finish.

The other night, I noticed that the table was missing something. We had the veggies, the chapati, the dal. Hmmm… Where was the main dish? As we started eating, Ulhas came out of the kitchen humming with excitement. “Two minutes!” He told everyone.

Two minutes later, he came back out with a big, sloshing bowl full of red curry and goat’s feet. Goat’s feet, guys. I mean, goat brain is slimy and gross, but at least it looks like a normal meat dish. Here was a bowl full of hooves and ankles. I almost lost it.

In my head I kept repeating the mantra, “I’ll try anything once. I’ll try anything once. I’ll try anything once.” And I did. I took two bites, struggling to chew and swallow the tough, rubbery meat. Thankfully, my mantra didn’t say anything about finishing it.

The whole time, my mind kept switching between hilarity and nausea. At one point, one of the other guys asked me how we prepare goat’s feet in the U.S.! “We don’t exactly eat that part of the goat,” I said, not mentioning the fact that most Americans wouldn’t even know what a goat looks like if it weren’t for The Sound of Music.

Don't worry.  No goat feet here.  Just some regular old mutton curry.

Don't worry. No goat feet here. Just some regular old mutton curry.

Well, long story short, I made it through the meal without barfing all over the table. And right now, I’m sure many of you want to run off to cook up some tasty goat’s feet for yourselves! Apparently they’re called “trotters,” which just so happens to be one of the absolute worst food names in existence. I found a recipe here. You’re welcome.

So, all that to say, even though my experience with Indian food has been a bit, um… authentic, I’m still really enjoying it. At the very least I’m getting some good stories, right? I’ll dominate at “Two truths and a lie” now!

And to think. I used to get squeamish eating anything with a bone still on it…

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About the Author: Barry is the founder and Executive Director of World Next Door. A storyteller, traveller and giant nerd, he lives to compel suburban Americans to get engaged with social justice and find their place in God's kingdom revolution. His ultimate dream is to adopt a pet monkey named Kevin.

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Comments

  1. Greg Rhodea said... 

    Reply

    June 4th, 2009 at 12:50 pm  

    Awesome.

    I think I would die.

    But I think you need to check the link for the trotters recipe. It just led to the homepage of that site.

    (yes, i looked it up)

    😉

  2. Barry Rodriguez said... 

    Reply

    June 4th, 2009 at 1:02 pm  

    Haha Greg. I love that you looked it up. I fixed the link. Or rather, found a different recipe. It’s sort of disturbing to realize how many recipes for “trotters” are out there…

  3. Annie said... 

    Reply

    June 11th, 2009 at 1:42 pm  

    That is an amazing story. I like to think I would try anything once, but I could not bring myself to eat chicken feet, so I’m thinking I’d have to pass on the goat’s feet too.

  4. Alicia Layton said... 

    Reply

    August 13th, 2009 at 1:35 pm  

    …But boy does Ulhas make some pretty incredible food when it’s not goats’ feet!

  5. Alicia Layton said... 

    Reply

    August 13th, 2009 at 1:36 pm  

    And I’m glad I do not share the same commitment to that mantra of yours. But good for you!

  6. Jo Nading said... 

    Reply

    February 24th, 2010 at 2:02 pm  

    Oh Barry…..I laughed harder and louder this time than the first time. Goats’ hooves and those little fishies….just makes ya wanna raise a little goat in your back yard, right? think of the meals you could have. Thanks for sharing this again. Please, no goat hooves Friday night.

  7. Jenny Fitzgerald said... 

    Reply

    February 24th, 2010 at 4:43 pm  

    Barry ~ that was the best laugh I’ve had in days! Oh my goodness!!! You are so funny! When I lived in Durban, South Africa, with an Indian family ~ the dish I almost “barfed all over the table” with was tripe. All the insides of the animals in a stew. It was..um, almost the worst thing I’ve ever smelled. And to TASTE it… oh dear. It was, gross! I admire your courage and your adventure. LOVE reading every post!

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