Sri Lanka to Europe, in seach of delicious food

Before I left, I made a point to offhandedly remind my friends’ and family members that I would be eating delicious “authentic” Asian food for months. La dee da. But at that point, I knew nothing of what real Asian food is, nor did I take into account the fact that plain white rice must have somehow paid a lobbyist to get a spot in the base of the food pyramid.

Now, I’m not swallowing anything delicious besides my pre-trip words.

To be fair, some places I’ve been have been culinary marvels. Peninsular Malaysia, particularly Penang and various spots around Kuala Lumpur, were incredible sources of taste-gasms. Indian, Thai, Chinese and Malaysian flavors all make a pretty good case for their existence, and I have to hand it to Malaysia for authenticity and culinary diversity. The best Indian food I’ve ever eaten was in Kota Kinabalu, and some of the most lovely desserts ever tasted could be found on the streets of Penang.

Thailand, of course, takes the prize for best flavors. It’s to be expected, though, isn’t it? It was by far the most redeeming quality that Thailand has to offer. Their curries are to die for.

OK, so the point of all this is to just say that the food in Asia gets pretty redundant after a while.  I once imagined that all of Southeast Asian cuisine would be riddled with vibrant flavors and tastes because it is one very small place, geographically speaking. But, as I’ve learned, spices are expensive. The wealthier nations within SE Asia have colorful, flavorful foods, and the developing ones have the lack thereof. It’s all to do with economics, not geography! But of course. What doesn’t revolve around money in this world?
Geography has become something pretty irrelevant to me these days. Looking at a map, I was pretty certain that I could swim from Manila to Saigon if I had to. I mean, what’s a pinky’s length on googlemaps? Sure, a couple hundred miles here and there, but what’s a couple hundred miles even feel like anymore? I have no idea.

Here’s a fact: the food in Southeast Asia now seems boring. My taste buds are pretty pissed off at the shit I keep coating them with. They haven’t gotten a grasp on economics yet, so it’s hard to explain to them my budget constraints, not to mention how these developing countries simply can’t afford the spices I crave.

Not only that, but the backpacker culture here is not for me.

I’m tried of meeting the same old person over and over again, who talks about “doing” Southeast Asia as if it’s something to check off some list.  I’m tired of sweating at all hours of the day.  I’m tired of being ripped off by locals who are simply trying to earn a living.

So, I’ve booked a flight to a place where I will no longer be able to forget to eat for 12 hours at a time, as is quite often the case these days in Southeast Asia. It is a heavenly place where cheese and bread, spices and flavor, creativity and refinery all combine to create pure mouth pleasure. That place, it should go without saying, does not exist in Southeast Asia.  Oh yeah, there’s hardly any cheese in Asia, at all.

It’s France. I’m going to France. I’m on my way now.  But first: a stop in Sri Lanka for an evening, and London for a couple nights of catching up with old friends. After London, I’ll head South to the ferry, take it over the English channel, and hitchhike to Paris. Then, I’ll spend a couple days in Paris wallowing in that one of the seven deadly sins that is justified after the hunger strike campaign I’ve been waging.

To me, it sounds like a pretty good plan. I will eat cheese.

But, also, Sri Lanka is lovely!

Negambo beach

Negombo beach

I arrived last night at 11 pm and since I had an 18 hour layover, I headed into town for a good night’s sleep.  I negotiated a reasonable price for a taxi into town.  Well, my taxi driver promptly fell in love with me, refused to accept payment, and tried to take me to his house instead.  I pulled out my phone (which, of course, did not have a Sri Lankan SIM card and doesn’t actually work), and told him I have a good friend on the Sri Lankan police force.  I asked him to please not kidnap me, or else I would phone my imaginary police friend.

He took me straight to my hostel.  On the way, I saw a tuk-tuk collide with a motorbike, and then drive off frantically.  Yikes.

When my taxi driver reached the hostel, I could tell he was upset.  I think he felt bad for trying to kidnap me. He might have felt bad because his plan was foiled, but it was clear to me that he had a good heart and this wasn’t the case.  Maybe “kidnap” isn’t the right word. He said he was so sorry for trying to take me to “his family” and that it was only because “actually” he “loves” me.   He insisted that he would take me to the airport the next day.

I gave him a second chance.

After a mosquito-filled night in a dormitory  I phoned him in the morning.  He came and got me, a good 4 hours before my flight.  He took me all around the city.  We went to the beach,

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and we went to the city center.

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We stopped for breakfast,

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and it was the most delicious thing I’ve eaten in ages.

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The one in the middle is jackfruit cooked with curry and coconut milk.  It slayed me.  But I think the best part about this meal was the “iced coffee” I got.  It was coffee with ice cream.

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Brilliant.

I’m at the airport now, waiting for my flight to start boarding.  It’s going to be a long 12 hours to London, but I am very eagerly looking forward to a change of pace, temperature, and scenery.  But let’s not forget what it is that I’m looking forward to the most: eating cheese.

One Response to Sri Lanka to Europe, in seach of delicious food

  1. Tabs

    Isn’t food everything to the honey badger anyways? Cheers to the cheese and the bread…..the BREADDDD…ahhh I am jealous. Screw the lactose intolerance? Haha. I am glad to hear your pseudo kidnapper was really just a man in love and that you are safely on your way. Love you!

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