'A Cook's Tour' ... To Gurgaon and back with Tony Bourdain

I made a short trip to Delhi today. The food was as atypical of Delhi as possible.

No paapri chaat or daal makhni. Green tea, muesli and fruit yoghurt for breakfast at home. South Indian chicken curry and neer dosa on the Jet flight while going. A post lunch-time meeting lunch at Ruby Tuesday. Smokerhouse burger - described as bacon and cheese. reality:  one piece of bacon hidden somewhere. My boss wisely suggested a beer in the heat over my ice tea. So iced Tuborg it was.

I was floored by the Delhi airport. I hardly travelled within India last year and had not seen the new airport. It was so new age and modern. I almost went to exchange foreign currency out of force of habit. Didn't seem like any airport at home. Not that Mumbai is too bad. Picked up a peach ice tea there. There was a dal makhni in the Jet flight back. But then hey, I went to Gurgaon and not Delhi! Subjected to the forty degree treatment hoping from one air conditioned refuge to another.

And for all the talk of 1800 sq feet houses at Rs 21,000 (400 USD) rent at Gurgaon, the glistening malls and glass houses, gensets which provide power at Rs 6,000 (120 USD) a month for a family of two... I was really happy to be home. For me it is Bandra je t'aime.

I bought Anthony Bourdain's A Cook's Tour recently at the Phoenix Landmark, a fantastic book shop.

I started reading the book on the flight and was immediately transfixed in the spell of some very powerful writing. Yes, Bourdain writes about food, but such wonderful and vivid imagery, such pure emotions. I chide people who call Tendulkar 'God' saying that they use the word loosely. Well I am very tempted myself in this case.

Bourdain writes about the first taste of oyster which took him towards a career in food. Well Bourdain is clearly the reason why I write. And noone compares to him. The way he brings alive his experiences, the way he connects with you at an intimate personal level through his words, the way he uses self deprecatory humour to bring a smile in the grimmest and bloodiest of situations, the way he makes a food tale seem like a bigger epic than Illiad, the way he goes beyond the conventional.... he is the maestro of food writing and programming.  Light years ahead of the rest. And I have it from my sources that women find him hot.

I was tempted to share excerpts from the book but didn't know what to leave out. Here's one passage where he talks about 'food memories'. Now play this back in your head in Bourdain's characteristic languorous drawl and tell me if it doesn't touch you somewhere:

"Your first taste of champagne on a woman's lips....steak frites when you were in Paris as a teenager with a Eurail pass, you'd blown almost all your dough on hash in Amsterdam, and that slightly chewy steak of rumsteck (rump steak) was the first substantial meal in days... a single wild strawberry, so flavourful that it nearly took your head off... your grandmother's lasagne ...a first sip of stolen ice-cold beer on a hot summer night, hands smelling of crushed fireflies.... leftover pork fried rice, because your girlfriend at the time would always have some in the fridge....steamed clams, dripping with drawn butter from your first family vacation at the Jersey shore... rice pudding from Fort Lee Diner ... bad Cantonese when you were a kid and Chinese was still exotic and wonderful and you still thought fortune cookies were fun... dirty-water hot dogs .... a few beads of caviare, licked off a nipple"

... Introduction,  A Cook's Tour

Ooof, where was this when one was searching for passages for elocution in school?