"Wading neck deep in a swamp, your revolver is neither use nor ornament until you have had time to clean it" Mary H. Kingsley (1897)

The Pleasures Of Food Shopping

I love Kerala food.

This is probably just as well. Outside of the tourist restaurants, there is little else to eat.

Increasing age brings a somewhat jaded palate. Kerala cuisine, with its abundant use of local produce such as cardamom, black peppers, ginger, garlic and coconut, is an excellent restorative to the fading sense of taste. Dalila, my cook, can always tempt me with her amazing dishes.

But there are two things I miss:


and European cheeses.

Both have fiercely strong tastes. They are almost pungent.

Here bacon is unheard of.

The locally available cheese is processed and bland, having a slightly plastic taste and consistency.


Last week I came across an article in The Hindu, one of India’s national English language newspapers.

It featured “Gourmet House”, a local shop specialising in imported foods.

They sell European cheeses.


This morning saw me riding pillion on a friends motorbike, across to the mainland. I carried a small back-pack.

Stepping into Gourmet House, I felt like a child walking into in a toy-shop at Christmas.

Here was everything I had missed and many items I hadn’t even dreamt of missing.

Half an hour and Rs. 2,250 ( £30 or $50) later, I emerged.

At home I unpacked my luxuries:

Fine blackcurrant jam, Scottish marmalade, sliced pepperoni, Lee & Perrins Worcestershire sauce, pickled gherkins, back bacon,

and cheese.

Mature English cheddar, Red Leicester, French Camembert and Danish Blue.

Combining these culinary treasures with the excellent local bread I have recently sourced, my future lunchtime snacks may be more gourmand than gourmet.


With thanks to John, my dear brother-in-law, for pointing me to this clip.

(The cartoon is taken from “The New Yorker”)


6 responses

  1. Lucille

    And you know this one?

    November 1, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    • Saw it for the first time just a few days ago! There is something particularly wonderful when song and dance unexpectedly break into our lives. You can see people’s faces being transformed and their barriers melting. Suddenly they are fully alive in the moment. They have been touched by joy.

      November 2, 2010 at 7:34 am

  2. Jolyon

    Has Dalila taken well to these new ingredients? I see you are missing Maggi sauce. I never go far without Maggi…

    November 1, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    • The fair Dalila is very patient with Sir. She knows I love her food and forgives my lapses. But what none of my staff can understand is why I would want to eat old, “mouldy” cheese or meat that has been dead for more than 48 hours.
      As for your friend Maggi, too much MSG for me to take on a regular basis!

      November 2, 2010 at 7:28 am

  3. Lucille

    I’m sorry that the whole video appears so rudely in your comment box, I’m only entering the link code not embedding it.

    November 2, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    • It’s one of the odd things about WordPress. If you add a link to a posting it stays as a link, but put a link on a comment and it automatically embeds!

      November 2, 2010 at 1:02 pm

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