Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Thali

I usually skip breakfast here, and eat a very light dinner. My main meal of the day is a massive thali...

A Thali (or, meal) is an all-you-can eat buffet, except that you don't have to leave your seat.

It starts with a big green bananna leaf, which is put onto the table in front of you. For hygine, some other reasons, you splash a bit of water on the leaf (I use bottled water, so as to avoid the nasty stuff they give out here).

Now comes the fun part..

Between 4-5 different employees come round, each with 3-4 containers of food, which they scoop/slop onto your leaf.

Once they're done, you'll usually have a massive quantity of rice, 4-5 different curries/vegetable based dishes, some kind of lentil soup dumped onto your rice, various sauces, salt, chutney, yoghurt, and some mysterious clear/white soup (too scared to try it)..oh,and a popadom.

You eat only with your right hand (because the left is used for bathroom functions) - any time you forget this, and accidently tear a piece of bread or something with your left, you'll get very strange looks from people...

Just as at an authentic chinese restaurant, you're put at a table with other people who you don't know.

The serving chaps keep wandering around, and so any time you've usedup/consumed a particular foodstuf, they plop some more down on the plate.

Once it's all over, you fold the top of the leaf over (covering up your eating surface), pay (here in Chennai, it's 21 rupees, or about 50 cents), groan at the extreme quantity of food consumed, and leave...

I've been here for 5 days now, have not had food poisoning yet (thank god) - and if this daily thali extravaganza continues, i'm going to get very very fat.

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