On Cherries

As I was walking home, I saw that the vendor was selling cherries in loose. Usually the supermarket sells it in pre packed boxes and it is quite expensive. The only cherries I have had were those sugar soaked sour ones found on top of cakes and I never liked them. I was curious to try fresh cherries. The cherries were great and I was pleasantly surprised by their sweet taste.


I realized that I have never had fresh cherries all my life until last week ha ha.

Are there any fruits you have never tried or tried only recently?

5 Ways My Eating Habits Have Changed

After I wrote about my decision to stop drinking tea with lunch, it reinforced the fact that we pick up habits that are convenient and easy in our environment.One of the easier ways to make habits stick is to make it convenient (Better than before by Gretchen Rubin is a great book for habits). I was at the food court today and I had to tell myself at least 5 times not to order a drink phew! On the other hand, I felt that living in east Asia had also changed some of my eating habits for the better – at least the ones I observed and chose to follow.

3 Ways my eating habits changed for the better here

Note- A lot of these are gross generalizations but these are some of my observations and they do hold true to some extent in my sample pool. Of course, things are changing lately, but observing people over 30, many of who have traditional eating habits helps. Applicable to adults only.

  1. Early Dinners – Most Indians I know here have dinner after 8PM while many east Asians usually eat around 6-7PM. I felt this was a great habit and now try to eat dinner earlier. Having a partner who also likes to have dinner before 8 helps 🙂
  2. No snacking – This is a very bad habit a lot of Indians have. I don’t get why people have to lay out snacks like biscuits, mixture, sweets for eating 30 minutes after/before lunch. Having bajjis, samosas, chips around tea time aka 5PM is why many people can’t have dinner earlier. I notice that not many people here snack outside meal times.
  3. Less sweet – Most people will find east Asian desserts extremely bland and not sweet enough while east Asians find other desserts ‘too sweet’. This made me come up with my unscientific theory that if  I were to train my taste buds (& my future kid’s) to accept less sugar, I would not enjoy ‘too sweet’ foods overall. Uncle doesn’t agree with this theory and feels people should be taught to eat sweets moderately. This was easy for me because I do not like to eat too much sweet stuff.

2 ways my eating habits changed post Uncle

  1. More veggies – I sometimes used to skimp on veggies because it was acceptable (Ex: Sambar + Rice + Appalam) but uncle insists that a lunch is incomplete without veggies. So, I make an effort to eat more and cook more veggies.
  2. No food after 10PM – I don’t remember anyone voicing out this rule consistently in my life until Uncle. I have seen many people snack late in the night while chatting away.

I am not perfect and there are times I do not follow these rules. However, I am the sort of person who prefers having clear guidelines (even if I set them for myself) and functions better under them. Breaking these means I have to spend time debating with myself and thus am less likely to do it.

Another gem from Better than before – Decide once and you don’t have to decide again. 

Drinks With Meals

I have developed a habit of having iced milk tea with my lunch in the past few months. I do that partly because I feel the need to order something at the food court and sometimes because the food tastes absolutely bland without a drink. A habit I have been meaning to break.

Growing up in India (for me) meant that the drinks we had with meals was almost always water. Even now, I barely order any drinks when I eat out in India. However here in south-east Asia, ordering drinks seems to be norm. Many people go to the food courts and buy food & drinks. It is considered normal to have drinks instead of water. Banning soft drinks and having only water in the school canteens (like in France) is a bizarre  and unacceptable concept to a lot of people.

When I make my chai, people here are appalled that I add sugar to it and claim that I add too much sugar. Last week, I searched for the sugar content of the drinks found in the local food courts and was appalled to learn that they contain about 4-5 teaspoon in 1 cup (source)! It is so easy to be unaware when the sugar is not being added right in front of your eyes. Add to that, a lot of all drinks with milk use evaporated or condensed milk which have so many other chemicals along with sugar and trans fats rather than fresh milk.

Another drink  I now avoid is chai tea latte. I used to order it when I travelled in USA and later in cafes here because I missed chai. I promptly stopped when I read that it also has over 5 teaspoons of sugar in 1 cup and chai was made from some concentrate syrup not really freshly brewed chai.

Overall, I feel it is better to add your own sugar guilt-free rather than buy it with added sugar. I do not believe having these drinks every once in a while hurts anyone but it is important not to make it a daily habit *cough* like I have had. It would not be a problem if we weren’t eating so much processed food with added sugar but because added sugar is everywhere, it is up to consumers to look out for it.

Do you have the habit of ordering drinks with your lunch? Drinks like tea, coffee or soft drinks? How is that some societies have normalized purchase of drinks with food instead of promoting water? 

Serving Water in Restaurants

Last night, we were at a Japanese place and there were wet tissues on our table. Uncle used one as it was there. The waitress counted the wet tissues we used and added it to our bill! We were so shocked, I told them they were sneaky and cheating people because it is not indicated that it is chargeable. Why keep it on the table if it not for free?! She told us we were the first people to complain about this and that every restaurant does this ha. I hate the sneaky ways restaurants here charge for everything from water to tissues and add it to your bill.

Another pet peeve of mine is (east) Asian restaurants don’t serve tap water to patrons and always charge you for it which I find ridiculous. I haven’t been charged for drinking plain water in restaurants in India/USA/Europe unless I specifically wished to buy bottled water. If tap water of a country is drinkable and affordable, why not serve for free? As if it’s not enough that they charge for it, they serve it in tiny glasses which have to be constantly refilled and the servers keep making you wait for it. God help you, if you badly need water.

Once, we went to a restaurant as a part of an office meeting. When I asked for water, they said they do not serve tap water. I asked them if they could take a glass and just fill from the sink tap, they plain refused because ‘it is not part of their policy’ and if you want you can only buy San Pellergrino water. Nothing else. I thought that was extremely snobbish and bloody wasteful to have water shipped all the way from Europe. Same with another Thai food chain. They used to serve free water. Then they started charging for it. Then, they stopped serving tap water. If one wants, they need to buy bottled water or nothing else.

It is such a snobbish and so environment unfriendly and I am always surprised when people defend this bullshit practice, much less support it.

The only saving grace is that Indian and western (if they are not run by east Asians) serve free water.

Does complaining about being charged 50 cents for water make you a cheap skate? Does drinking/serving only bottled water from Europe make you posh? Do people just accept this because it is a norm in these societies? Do they keep quiet to avoid confrontation? Do most people give a shit about the environment? (No, they don’t give a shit).

News: FDA Sets 2018 Deadline to Rid Foods of Trans Fats

I am quite glad to hear the news that FDA wants all the companies to remove trans-fats from the food by 2018.  It took them so many years to admit that trans-fats were bad and I am glad that they are moving towards removing it from our foods.

Can you imagine that they were telling us to do the opposite and consume trans-fats several decades ago. That’s how margarine and other low fat spreads emerged.

Indians would definitely remember Dalda. 

I find it interesting how food trends change just like fashion. Earlier fat was the enemy, now sugar is the root of all evil. I wonder where all these health bloggers/food coaches were when we were fighting fats in food? I don’t trust any food trends anymore because we do not know when they may be proved completely wrong.

What is curry?

I came across this article about Indian curry and I had to share it because Indian food is reduced to one thing by many most foreigners – curry

Few excerpts –

” The word “curry” is widely misunderstood….In the South Asian mind, curry refers less to spice and more to the consistency of a dish…..To us, curry means “gravy.”

“In Tamil, the wordkari means a kind of gravy.”

Christmas Dinner

Last week was great because it was a slow week at work. We decided to celebrate Christmas by cooking something nice at home. We bought all the groceries 2 days in advance. Here is what we had – 

Christmas Dinner

  1. Roasted Meat – We bought it roasted from the supermarket.
  2. Stuffed eggplant
  3. Pickles – cucumbers and onions
  4. Spring onions
  5. Mashed potatoes
  6. Brussel Sprouts
  7. Dark Chocolate Cake – This turned out awesome! I follow the recipe from here ditto – link
  8. Mulled wine

mulled wine