Friday, August 22, 2008

Catching up from Kerala

Hi, Michael Pardus here.

Finally I have a solid connection...I know where I left off with text, but there are a lot of photos and some video that I want to share, so I'm going to that in first. Since it's out of sequence, let's call this first one a "naan" sequitor....

Using the Tandoori oven at the casino Hotel in Kochi, Kerala, India.

Next is a quicky on how to properly use Dosa batter to make the huge fermented rice flour crepes:

I had mentioned the Fresh Fish Lunch in Kochi, here's a video clip from the kitchen followed by a slideshow of accompanying pictures.

Slide Show from Fish nets, stalls, and lunch in Kochi :

OK, next set I owe you is Kochi market...some of these shots are NOT for PETA viewing...

Cows…I’d always thought that, in India, cows were sacred and not to be killed or consumed. Not always. There are cows walking around , all over the place, but it really depends on who you are and what you believe and how close knit your community is whether or not you eat them, milk them, or worship them. It was described to me by several people – Hindus and others – that if your area was ethnically diverse and you were not particularly devout, you may well be Hindu and actually eat beef flesh, at least is the south. Further north, where the Hindus tend to be closer together and more seriously religious, beef was not as likely to be consumed. Here’s a few views of life as a cow in Kerala:

After leaving Kochi there were a bunch of things I saw on the road into the mountains which I mentioned, but never got to post pix or video of. Here are a few albums and a short video:

Roadside roasted corn stall on the way to Munaar:

"Indian Squirrels" (Monkeys)...set up behind the corn stall guy and wait for tourist leavings - after the initial cuteness wears off they remind me more of Central Park vermin than anything else:

Some pretty breathtaking scenary through the tea plantations:

The Fried Banana Guy in Munaar:

And now we're pretty much caught up. My last post ended with a quick paragraph promising details on a spice plantation visit, here they are:

The tour turns into a safari of sorts – trekking through a jungle of tangled and varied spices, stopping to look and dig and pull out of the ground and taste. We see cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, turmeric, ginger, pepper vines, coffee, jack fruit and vanilla – all growing tangled, on top of or beneath each other. The current thinking in spice growing is “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket” – when the market drops on one spice, the others rise or remain stable – hence, the small grower has a lot of different eggs in a variety of baskets.

Although many of the spices were not ready for harvest, it was really cool to see them in their developmental stages – green vanilla pods and whole, unripe nutmegs, the leaves on the plants often as fragrant and flavorful as the spices themselves. The plantation manager started a game which we all eagerly participated in – he would pull a leaf from a bush or tree and ask us to pass it around, sniffing and tasting until someone could guess what the spice was. Out of the context of a kitchen, pulling leaves from trees, I was surprised at how long it took for me to figure out what some of the leaves represented. I knew the aroma and I knew the flavor….but I couldn’t name clove or nutmeg without a bit of thought.

Our trek through the spice jungle ended just as it began to rain again, we loaded onto the bus and went back to the hotel – where the chef had arranged a demo of local dishes using spices we had just been introduced to.

Here's an album of photos from the plantation followed by a video - the video is really more a way of to give you the audio from the jungle, but the sense of "lush" comes through as well.

Spice Plantation Album:

And the video/sound clip:

Stay tuned...I still have a week to go!


redman said...

looks like they eat corn over there exactly the same way they do in the midwest ... right on!

Kanani said...

Wow. You're in India during the hottest time. When I was there, I spent a week with a Maharajah and his mother, The Maharanee. She had a plan to build a farm to put all the cows from her village in, so they could live well, and not on the streets. Sort of like gigantic pets. I also remember walking alone at night through Delhi from the internet café and running into a cow --in the dark. But really, India is my favorite place.

Robert said...

Ha! A "naan" sequitor. Priceless. :-)

Robert said...

Your "offal" pun was just awful. But appreciated! ;-)