It’s written in the stars
Every grain has your name engraved on it.
The truth of this ancient proverb has been brought home to me many many times in my life especially when it comes to dining out. With so many restaurants literally staring you in the face the minute you step out of the house, I am always tempted to try them out…….. but then I am convinced that when things are not meant to be, they are just not meant to be. Somehow or the other, the Universe conspires against you and you land up not doing what you want to do. Take a simple thing like dining out with my cousins from America who were visiting. After having met several times at home, we decided to meet at Cafe Zoe for lunch since this was a restaurant they had not visited and I wanted them to see the California feel in the hear of Bombay. Our first scheduled visit to Cafe Zoe had to be called off because of an unexpected hiccup – a last minute summons to a government office which as it turned out was not required and only achieved one aim – cancelling our lunch.
But still determined to show them Cafe Zoe, I re-scheduled our meeting to dinner time and was shocked to find that that Cafe Zoe didn’t admit dinner guests under 18 years of age! This meant that we just couldn’t eat at Cafe Zoe and had to re-think our choice of restaurant.
Similarly, take the case of Cafe Ivy Bar & Restaurant at Worli, conveniently located down the road for my husband’s office and the ideal choice for entertaining business associates who land up at lunch times. But for some strange reason neither he nor I have ever visited this place despite my several requests.
And for that matter even the restaurant Mela which was literally round the corner and more ideally located for business lunches or early business dinners since it showcased traditional Indian skills and crafts to admire while you dined, was always given the miss. Perhaps now that the establishment has changed hands and become Chinese, we might just find it more attractive?
In my ideal world, I’d travel with my nose – literally following the aromas that waft my way. One day perhaps I will follow my nose and have a gastronomic journey of the world, sampling the tastes of the world. While this is not physically possible, I do try and research the cuisine of the place I am traveling to, finding out its must have dishes and must visit restaurants. Before going to Madrid a few years ago, I was was told that a real Madrid experience was a suckling pig at the famous Le Botin (purported to be the oldest restaurant in all Europe). We did go to this place but were put off by the long lines of tourists that waited outside having pre-booked a table months in advance. The next best option was sampling suckling pig at La Galayos ( the most elegant fine dining restaurant in Madrid’s famous Plaza Majora) but here again I had to give this a skip since most of my dining companions were vegetarian and those who weren’t were stuffed ! So with no one to share a whole piglet I had to give this gastronomic delight a miss……..and since I couldn’t eat a pig by myself, I had to give it a miss.
Similarly , there have been missed opportunities of eating Crab cakes at Washington DC‘s famed Eastern market, Philadelphia Cheese Steak Sandwich, Clam Chowder at Boston’s Legal Sea food and even a simple dish like Fish and Chips in London. Perhaps these dishes are cliched and over hyped but if the whole world can eat pancakes at International House Of Pancakes and burgers at McDonalds, I don’t see why I have to forego these simple pleasures simply because they are considered too touristy and typical.
Strike while the iron is hot
When I look back, I have missed out on these opportunities simply because I was too shy to actually speak up and voice my preference. I mean if I did want to eat a T Bone steak in the US, all I had to do was look for a decent place that serves it and order it. I happened to do this in Peking when I insisted on eating the famous Peking Duck at the restaurant that started it all – Quanjude at Qianmen Street but sadly this was really booked up months in advance..But I persisted and did manage to eat the famous Peking Duck, crisp skin and all at an equally famous restaurant Dadong which may not be the originator of the recipe but definitely matched up the original.
Which brings me to my original premise – that indeed every morsel of food has a name written on it , so better make sure it is yours!