There are very few times in my life that I was so disgusted by a food that I spit it out. That was however before I tried paan while in India last month.
I’m not afraid to try new foods. I love liver and I tried goats brains on this trip. I didn’t care for them but they were not something I was going to spit out like a villager. Today I acted like a villager. Today in Southern India I couldn’t handle a beetlenut and tobacco palette cleanser. I would probably prefer some tobacco-free products, to be honest. Of course, because I am American I did the classy thing and spit it in the nearest trash can. Indians would have just spit it in the dirt next to the piles of garbage.
Stay classy India.
After two hours this morning on the death defying highways of Tamil Nadu India dodging water buffaloes being dragged across the highway by their shepherds, we stopped at Kamath, Indias version of Starbucks for coffee and a bathroom break.
“Is this two plié?”
I asked, spotting a table full of leaves on the way in I picked one up and asked my boyfriend if I should use it in the bathroom. We had a good laugh as we made our way to a table, quickly drinking yogurt lassis and a sweet milk coffee for myself.
As we were walking out I made the mistake of asking him about the bowls of souff next to the pile of leaves.
Those words should have been the first sign that he was messing with me.
He spread some of the white stuff onto a leaf as I looked on in fear,
“Is that glue?”
I asked, as he sprinkled it with the beetlenut, tobacco, fennel seeds and topped it with a sprinkle of sugar. Than he rolled it up into a packet and instructed me to pop the whole thing in my mouth like I was enjoying an after dinner mint.
He assured me the “glue” was a mixture of calcium carbonate (You know, the same stuff they build the highways with here) and eggs. (That had probably been at room temperature all morning.) apparently the calcium carbonate is a great detox treatment for your system.
I don’t know what that means in India but I’m sure I’ll find out tomorrow morning when I’m crying on the toilet.
Even as I spit this disgusting leaf sandwich into the nearest trash can, I was thinking
“This is totally going to give me curry bum tomorrow”
This leaf tasting concoction is called paan and I’m told people in India enjoy this after a meal to cleanse their stomachs. This could explain why so many people think you will get sick when you come to eat in India after experiences like this.
At least he was nice enough to hold the car door open for me as we were leaving Klamath to get back on the highway towards Bangalore
Love my adventures? Love paan?
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