i have always been a vegetarian. my parents are vegetarian. thus, in a way, i was born vegetarian! as i grew up, and i got out on my own (read, could go to restaurants without their supervision) and saw people raving about food that my parents did not eat, i knew i liked animals. too much to eat them. and the concept of eating something so similar to me in form and structure, was gory!
and then i fell in love with traveling. moving out of my house and out of my kitchen. and the fear of finding food i could eat, set in… would there be anything for me? or would i live on biscuits and bread?
its been a long journey. and over the last many years across india, i have never had to go hungry even in the most non-vegetarian state like assam, west bengal!
so the new fear sets in. travel abroad. whether to the west or to the east, would i find options?
in the last 12 months, i have visited two countries – germany and thailand. ever heard of vegetarian food from there? of course you get vegetarian thai curry in india… but in thailand?
deciding to go to the oktober fest was a big call. not sure they knew the meaning of vegetarian. i was gearing up for bread with cheese and tomato (my staple in france!)
day 1, oktober fest… after some explaining and peering at the menu (searching desperately for something vegetarian), managed to get some gooey potatoes. they were not mashed, nor was it fries (which are two american staples that i know!). and all this in the midst of some smelly bratwursts moving around. for a vegetarian, extremely tough on the nose. i gave up hope on finding anything vegetarian. and the smells were not even of the familiar chicken curry, so they didn’t even tempt me over! ordered a pretzel – which was bad. it was a terrible food day. and with energy dipping, went for a walking tour around munchen! with imploring eyes asked the tour guide for vegetarian food. there was no question of seeking ‘local’ vegetarian, i needed food. some food!
and then the tour guide recommended a couple of vegetarian burger joints! skeptical, as hell, i made my way to the first one with a name that i struggled to say aloud – hans im gluck! a spacious joint, with bamboo sticks seemingly holding up the roof. a very good-looking menu. and importantly, options! even for vegetarian me!
post that, i asked for vegetarian burger joints first up. my entire germany trip was spent gorging vegetarian burgers. some were just uncreative slabs of fried tofu – which spoke of a culture that hadn’t discovered vegetarian cuisine – but others were delicious mixes of all things vegetarians, topped with complimenting sauces! i was tummy-happy.
months later, i made my way to bangkok, thailand. wondering what vegetarian i would find.
there are fewer options. there is lesser appreciation of vegetarianism. in fact they are most willing to give you fish. and one needs to be extremely firm. but one thai place was vegetarian only!
mai kay dee. unfortunately, not the best thai food. or one sec, maybe it wasn’t indian thai! it was tofu heavy, so other ingredients paled in comparison. tofu is a ‘non-vegetarian turned vegetarian’s’ chicken. it’s definitely not the tastiest vegetarian ingredient… because in my opinion it tastes like meat – or what i think meat tastes like!