Until about February of 2017 I always thought of myself as a hardcore non vegetarian. Even now, not a day passes by when I do not consume some sort of animal protein or the other. One particular meal in the day maybe devoid of animal protein but that too is an extremely rare occurrence. I always proudly believed that animal protein was my favourtite group and type of food.
Anthony Bourdain once said, “Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life—and travel—leaves marks on you.” This February, I travelled to Vietnam with my lovely wife. I don’t know what change or mark I left behind there but I know now that something in me changed. Vietnam is a dreamland for street food or food lovers in general and the two of us had an absolute ball of a time trying everything and anything that was within the range of our visual, auditory, olfactory or all of these senses. One day in a particular narrow lane in Hanoi we spotted groups of people huddled together crouching on low stools poring over bowls of chunky and porridge-y stuff. On a closer look we figured that in the bowls were fresh cut fruits, bits of jelly and yogurt. In a separate bowl alongside was crushed ice which, we later learned, one was supposed to keep adding as per one’s preferred degree of coldness. So, soon after grabbing lunch we returned to the same spot.
I ordered a bowl of assorted fresh cut tropical fruits like kiwi, dragon fruit, rambutan, mango, watermelon and so on with chunks of colourful jellies and shards of fried coconut. The man serving us, set the bowls of fruits and crushed ice on the miniature table in front of me, unsealed a pack of yogurt and dumped it atop the bowl full of fruits and gesticulated with his hands to explain to us how we should go on to eat it. For me it was love at first ‘taste’ and I ordered another bowl, this one with some black sweet and sticky glutinous rice. From then on I made it a point to scout out this delectable bowl of icy cold goodness in each of the Vietnamese towns we visited.
I had always liked having fruits and they were a part of my diet to some degree or the other. After that bowl of delicacy I realized that fruits deserved not to be liked but loved. I feel that was when the change that Bourdain spoke of took place in me. Today, fruits are an important part of my diet and all this despite being a fitness enthusiast who watches and tracks what he eats. Although I have too many favourites to pick and choose from, I try not to have more than two or three portions in a day. Maybe, in my other posts I will tell you about some of them but I believe that though proteins are the most valuable food group to me due to my lifestyle, fruits certainly are my favourite type of food now. The way I see it, Vietnam certainly was a ‘fruitful’ trip.