Eating Out – Is it Safe

Posted: June 29, 2008 in Cuisine, Food

Dirty, sticky, dishy eating out stories usually get lost in a bad burp! The tales of being served with rude
food are forgotten once you walk out of that restaurant. In India, as eating out becomes the new culture and menus become international, the big question is whether you’re being served a healthy platter! Mind you, goof-ups in kitchens happen all the time.

Yesterday’s greasy gravy gets served the next morning. Sometimes, you don’t even know when you ate that barbecued bug! Now, eating out regulars have a new obsession, they’re turning food reviewers. Here’s Sid Khullar’s bad food tale as posted on his blog, “The fussili in curry sauce seemed to be boiled pasta in watered down left over gravy, the dal was badly cooked. The mutton was totally insipid…” Anamitra Chakladar, photographer, writes how eating Vietnamese cuisine at an upmarket Delhi restaurant was a nightmare, “The disaster starts to unfold, plate by plate… the fish albeit very fresh was overpowered by the generous use of herbs…” Mumbai-based graphic designer Swati also talks about the “yucky” beef dish she was served at a midnight food bazaar.

The restaurant-goer has turned into a ruthless food critic, and refuses to pay for bad food, that’s the Mctruth of the moment. Says food expert Jiggs Kalra, “Sushi is the flavour of the moment, but do you know how fresh your sushi is? Most restaurants serve curry dishes in layers of cream. While eating prawns do you check if the tail has been removed? Before ordering lamb, ask if it weighed less than 7 kg, or else you’re eating only fat.”
We’re living in times of haute cuisine, but exuberant dishes come with their tale of disasters.
Says Anurag Bali, chef at Claridges Hotel, “Always go to a place which has good turnout. Don’t go for salads and buffets which have been pre-prepared, ask your wait-er for the signature dishes. Says nutritionist Ishi Khosla, “Indians are eating out for every second meal but our restaurants don’t have international health standards. Once, I ordered a bowl of greens at a five-star restaurant, it arrived undercooked.” Did we hear you choke on your shrimp cocktail? Being too adventurous in food means you’ll have to face disappointments. Says Manu Mahendra, MD of Under One Roof, hotel consultants, “Getting authentic food dishes is a challenge.”

Right now, the mood’s all about creative cross-cultural cooking. Yet, culinary displeasures are a letdown. Says food critic, Rashmi Uday Singh, “The real joy of eating food is when you get satisfaction. You should be sure you’re being served fresh food and not last night’s curry. Don’t eat raw undercooked vegetables or raw salad. Seafood is a fragile category, be sure to check out the freshness of the fish.” Can we really fool-proof ourselves from being served with bad food? The trick it seems, is in ordering right. Be sure you’re being served authentic, fresh food. Or else, just return the dish. “And don’t get taken-in by five-star authenticity, they sometimes go terribly wrong. Just go with what’s the most popular dish on the menu,” says Manu Mohindra.

Now, as the Slow Food Movement takes over the Fast Food Movement, try to remember the forgotten traditional wisdom, says Inder Kochchar of Lodi Restaurant, “Even as India gets a global menu, we’re still behind in getting the best ingredients. Don’t get misled by good-looking posh food, it should taste equally fresh. Till we fill the gap between demand and supply, we’ll always have bad food stories.”
That’s something Sudha Kukreja, owner of Ploof, The Kitchen, Blanco, agrees, “Never compromise on what you’re being served. Be it that over-spicy Thai curry or under-cooked veggies be sure you eat healthy. Or return it.”

Courtesy: Time of India

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