(Further to the Madhuban post)
I’m often asked (online and off) why I don’t work on the food beat. Immensely tempting though this beat is for a feature journalist (you get to sample new restaurants first, make contacts in a very interesting trade, wisely dole out recommendations to colleagues), I’ve never really got into it. There are two reasons for this. One is that when I eat out I want to be able to enjoy the food unconditionally - without having to make mental notes about everything, or worse, tolerate a PR person who points at each dish and announces its name loudly or revises the family histories of the restaurateurs while I’m trying to eat. I don’t like alloying my enjoyment of a good meal by mixing it with work. (As it is, too many other pleasures have gone that route: I still occasionally miss the days when I could read a book or watch a film without the burden of simultaneously composing the review in my head.)
The other reason is that though I think of myself as a foodie in a rough sense (I enjoy experimenting and discovering new foods and am very interested in the provenance and finer points of various cuisines), I’m quite undiscriminating in practice: a meal would have to be truly, deeply god-freakingly-awful for me to say something bad about it. Not a great quality for a restaurant reviewer: I’m always getting up the noses of the many food journos at Business Standard by shrugging and saying a restaurant was good enough when it was apparently very, very bad. (That’s okay though, I’m equally snobbish when they gush about Paulo Coelho or Dale Carnegie, so it evens out in the end.)
And yes, a lot of that lack of discrimination must have come from the mediocre-restaurant food I loved so much when I was growing up, years before Delhi turned into a foodie’s delight.
But it does hurt to have to say no to free meals…
P.S. just to show I’m not all pleb, here are some of my recos for (relatively high-end) eating out in Delhi:
- The Lutyens’ Lunch at Yellow Brick Road: chicken breast stuffed with mushrooms and the meltiest cheese ever.
- Fried rice with stir-fried vegetables at Pan Asian: I’m determinedly non-veg, so this reco means a lot more than it sounds.
- Prawn butter garlic at Swagath: it may seem silly but this is one prawn dish I can eat with a spoon straight out of the bowl - in between regular meals!
- Fish cakes at Chilli Seasson: most of the top Thai restaurants do a reasonable job with this starter, but here it’s exceptional.
- And lower-end but delicious nonetheless: the do-rukh seekh kababs and biryani at Indi Spice, in Malviya Nagar.