Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Paying for your own suffering

I have experienced few things in life that are worse than a really bad restaurant meal--not only is the food awful, but I am also left with a bill at the end. I am, in turn, paying for my own suffering.

In my last blog I praised Indian food and I hope what I am about to say does not take away from that. I still firmly believe the cuisine here is fabulous. It is the first Asian country I've traveled through in which I didn't crave Western food. With all the deliciousness, there is the occasional disaster. Unfortunately, I have been hit with two, back-to-back.

Last night we had to catch an 11pm train for the small desert fort city of Jaisalmer. Before our departure we decided to have dinner together at a restaurant, Kalinga, near the station. We flagged down an auto rickshaws which putted us through the busy, dusty streets of Jodhpur past shops, cows, stray dogs, and the obligatory McDonald's. Once deposited outside the highly recommended restaurant, we realized it was a little out of our price range. Instead we settled on a hole in the wall joint dishing up vegetarian thali (all you can eat, set meal) for 30 rupees (65 cents). Big mistake. My naan (Indian flat bread) was slightly charred, with an actual piece of charcoal stuck to the back of one piece. The curries were luke warm and the rice was cold. Considering the low price and my lack of appetite, I was able to push aside my disappointment.

That was not the case with the questionable breakfast I had to endure this morning. I ordered black coffee and a chocolate pancake. As the coffee pot was placed on my table, I was told my black tea had arrived. "Black tea?" I asked, "I wanted coffee." The waiter yelled, in Hindi, back to the kitchen and a response was promptly given. It was, in fact, black coffee, I was reassured. I gave it a taste and sure enough, it did actual taste like a weak cup of black coffee--which is not always the case here in India. Sometimes coffee tastes like tea, probably due to all the milk, sugar, and spices they like to dump in it.

Next course was my chocolate pancake. While the dish was coming toward me, the waitor knocked my cup thus dumping half my coffee on the table. I got a reluctant apology, but shook the incident off due to the pangs of hunger hitting me. The appearance of the pancake was satisfactory, but the taste--not good. The chocolate sauce had chunks in it, of what, I'm not sure. The pancake itself was slightly scortched and had a faint flavor of garlic to it. I opted to just settle on the coffee and push the chocolately, garlicy pancake mess aside. I should probably go now, as it's 3pm and I haven't had a decent meal in the last 24 hours. I think I'm due for one now.

Please feel free to report any horrendous restaurants meals you've suffered through. I'd love to hear all the gory details.

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