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Prepared Fresh Daily | Old Delhi, India | by t linn
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Prepared Fresh Daily | Old Delhi, India

For many people, exploring new foods is one of the primary reasons to travel. For me, not so much. It's not that I don't like trying new foods; I very much do. But when I'm traveling, finding a place to eat becomes more of an inconvenience than anything else. I don't want to spend an hour or more sitting in a restaurant. I want to be outside exploring the city. The last time I was in Paris I did my best to eat all my meals at McDonalds. It's quick, cheap and predictable. I know: sacrilege.


India adds another layer of complexity to eating. There are rules to follow if you want to avoid getting sick—which I definitely did. The only thing worse than blowing two hours at a restaurant is spending two hours afterward blowing chunks into the porcelain throne. And even if things don't become that dire, if nature calls with any urgency and you find yourself amid the sea of people that is Old Delhi, well...may the Lord be with you.


The rule for Westerners eating in India is no meat, no salads, no fresh fruits or vegetables that can't be peeled (e.g., bananas, oranges). Nothing but bottled or canned beverages. No ice. No juice unless in manufacturer's sealed packaging. Only eat in restaurants that are busy so the food is turning over quickly. Restaurants or food stands serving lots of mothers and children are preferable. Don't eat food that isn't piping hot. Don't eat from food carts that have no source of "clean" water because that means they've probably been using the same water all day to "wash" the dishes. Street food served on disposable plates is preferable even though it feels wrong to generate more trash than absolutely necessary. Also, don't eat street food at all.


The attitude some Westerners adopt is that getting sick is part of the experience and not the end of the world. Particularly if you love Indian food, I consider this a defensible position—but it was not our position. We only ate at restaurants within a five minute walk from our hotel room. That meant we only ate breakfast and dinner. No lunch beyond the occasional PowerBar (brought with us from home) or a bag of chips. And, no, neither Darla nor I ever felt hungry. The sensory overload that is India never allowed our thoughts to drift to food. We both arrived home 14 pounds lighter than when we left.


©2017 Timothy Linn

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Taken on December 29, 2017