Thin green line betwixt food miles and heaven
By Magandeep Singh
17th June 2012 12:29 AM
I have a problem with food and I don’t mean indigestion; in the words of French epicure Brillat-Savarin, that would be a sign of uncivilised eating—swallowing as opposed to savouring—something a foodie can ill-afford. I don’t mean weighty issues either. Not that they don’t exist—or present themselves in blatant underlined brusqueness every time I am faced with a mirror—it’s just that I refuse to address them, save for lapses into reason when I complain furiously. But these moments too pass.
My problem is with good food and how far one sometimes has to go to get the right kind. I am writing this column inflight—a relaxed reminisce of my most recent foodie trail—and all I am missing is the flavour from some recent meals which still lingers ever so teasingly. I share so that you too may make your way there.
It started with some stunning weiner schnitzel in Naschmarkt, an eclectic venue in Vienna for all sorts of delicacies. This was followed by an alternative meal at Holy Moly, aboard the Badeschiff, where the wine board welcomed me with an array of Austrian wines. The chef, Christian Petz, is special. He chucked his head job at a Michelin-starred edifice of the Austrian capital, rented this boat and piled on a few empty containers, one of which he now calls a restaurant. The other is a swimming pool. Logical, if you are a talented chef and given to eccentricities, but this will only serve to perplex you either before or after, as at the venue, the food will enthral and regale, stealing the limelight.
But I still haven’t told of my dilemma. This is it: inasmuch as I care about food miles, I can’t help but sometimes feel guilty the distance I put between myself and home, to polish off a pleasant plate. My diet is not just fattening, it has a sizeable carbon footprint. Why can the world afford authenticity and variety without being exorbitant whereas, back on home soil, I can think of no more than a handful of restaurants with titillating tactile fare (Indian Accent, Le Cirque, Megu, Blue Ginger, and Shroom, before you ask) and even there, most are on the pricey side. Is that a justification or a veritable reason for all of us who travel and revel in our gastronomic pursuit abroad? The service industry has sold out somewhere, unable to come up with fantastic restaurants that can serve up an imaginative, yet wholesome meal, without leaving a scorching crater in our wallets. What we have is the McDonald’s syndrome, disguised behind all sorts of garbs and facades: a multitude of places, mostly mediocre in quality but not in pricing, and with little or no resemblance to the cuisine they respectively yet disrespectfully serve. My rant over, I should fasten my seat belt and get ready for a rough landing.
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