#2 - Sometimes, Smaller is Better.

The first thing you notice when you go to a fruit & veg market in Delhi, is how small all the fruit and veg look. Bell Peppers are barely the size of a women's fist, onions are half the size of US, and tomatoes come in one variety (mostly).

Frankly, I was a bit disappointed on my first shopping experience. None of the veg looked particularly tasty. Frankly - it looked a lot like the leftovers on a Sunday night at your local Piggly Wiggly.

Determined to cook for myself, and unable to stomach another meal of pasta, I bought a bit of everything from a veg stand in Gurgaon and headed home to experiment. After washing and slicing a few bell peppers, I put together a plate of hummus and sat down. With one bite, I was a converted man.

You see, in the US most produce is often treated with pesticides, insecticides or herbicides. It is frequently genetically modified & almost always seems to grown to weigh as much as possible - and last a really long time on a shelf (a really, really long time - I once saw a show on Food Network which showed how Potatoes were stored for nearly a year before being made into french fries - Yuck). All this leads to giant grocery stores stocked with monstrously sized - flavorless produce.

In India, the supply chain is altered. Generally speaking - produces travels significantly shorter distances to end up on your dinner table & is much more flavorful. It is certainly more "ugly" - with spots & perhaps actual signs of transport - but I assure you - the taste is phenomenal.

This is my second of 30 things I learned in India. I learned how produce is meant to be grown & meant to taste. Funny, it took moving to India to discover how amazing a bell pepper could taste, or to learn how tasty raw onion can be(try it at home with lime juice & salt).

Before moving to Delhi, I paid good money at the Green City Market in order to put together a Seasonal Menu of locally sourced produce. Now, I just visit any street corner.


Anonymous said...

^__^ I agree. The 'spoilt' looking produce has flavor.
I hate the imported pretty looking fruits and vegetables (apples and pears and grapes...). They look lovely and taste so bland.

Anonymous said...

Grandma's back (from the pork post). True, vegetables and fruits are more flavorful in India (I discovered that they tasted better in France too, but maybe I was too captivated by Paris, so everything had to taste good). But do make sure you wash off all the exhaust pollution and other stuff from your produce before eating, especially raw. A little potassium permanganate dissolved in water makes for a good, safe vegetable wash (although do look up the exact ratio of PP to water so that you don't poison yourself).

Rex said...

You definitely should read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan.
He talks about how GM and processed foods are unhealthy and makes a case for going back to the basics.

Good that you can make the most of it here- I for one am glad we don't have such veggies in India.

The Tangential Technologists said...

I am not sure if you have tried this as well - but honestly - an apple brought from my local market somehow tastes much better than the ones I had bought from a supermarket in San Jose.

Liked your no-nonsense approach to getting food for yourself

Heidi said...

This is a really fun blog. My sister moved to Noida (near Delhi) from the States in December and I am coming to visit her for six weeks beginning in July, so this has given me a great perspective. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi Scott. Long, long time ago we were supposed to meet up for a coffee. If you're still up for it, let me know ;) hermesmarana@gazeta.pl

Cheers. Jacek

Anonymous said...

I'm very excited to hear this experience from India! I'm compelled to go there to learn about organic farming practices. Hillary Clinton just went to India for Food production alliances, to encourage the country to adopt modern agricultural practices to feed the world. While that sounds nice, I'm happy India has been resisting this type of influence. Not only does this small, visually flawed food taste better, but is also likely organic, local, more nutritious, and cheaper to produce; it also keeps jobs in rural areas and provides more economic equality. Kudos to Rex for mentioning Michael Pollan--this man has convinced me that focusing on local organic food production contributes to environmental sustainability, independence, and health. Also check out Omnivore's Dilemna, it's the story of 4 different meals and the resources and health facts involved--and who gets to take home the money. Thank you for sharing a terrific example of why India stands out as a leader in food production!

HappyTipsyGypsy said...

Hi! Stumbled on your blog from expat-blog and I have no shame in repeating what the others say about your blog - FUNNY and refreshing!

I am so glad that you liked the veggies! :)