Let me just get over the shock and then we can discuss the main topic, though it’s intricately related to the shock! In between Om Sai Vegetarian Restaurant and Shree Sagar Eating House (Pure Veg), we found Calangute Beach and our delightful homestay at Goa. On the way there from north Goa airport, Mopa, at 9.30pm, my daughter and I were most amused to see the number of Lunch Homes and Eating Houses marked ‘Pure Vegetarian’, not to forget the occasional Udipi Hotel. Goa has changed. Where did the Martin, D’Souza and Fernandes clans go? The vanishing act of these last names has left us scratching our heads like amateur detectives in search of clues to this mystery.
Gobi manchurian vs Pork vindaloo — rumour has it that the cauliflower’s revolt against its fate as a substitute for meat finally reached a boiling point, says Leslie D’GamaShutterstock
Then things got stranger when we heard that Gobhi Manchurian has been banned in Mapusa, due to concerns over hygiene. Rumour has it that the cauliflower’s revolt against its fate as a substitute for meat finally reached a boiling point.
After discovering the beach — hidden between garish LED lighting, loud bhangra music and multitudes of dudes selling hats, sunglasses (at night) and laser torches (apparently it allows kids to disturb others) — we tramped the sand and ended up at Souza Lobo. The feeling of deja vu was soon dissipated as we realised good old Souza and Lobo weren’t running the show. What show? The show ends at 10pm on Friday nights! The last order is 11.15pm and you’re out of there by midnight. Things have changed. But the beef xacuti, calamari in beer batter, and pork chourice (chourico) fry, more than make up for the rest.
For this writer, Souza Lobo’s beef xacuti, calamaris in beer batter (in picture), and pork chourice (chourico) fry more than make up for their pre-midnight closing timeKaro Christine Kumar, @souzalobogoa/Instagram
At a wedding buffet recently, back in my own Kolkata, the little old lady, a long-time friend, leaned over and politely suggested, “Excuse me dear, the non-veg section is that side!” Sure enough, there was an exclusive, segregated table marked “Non-Veg”. Are we not expected to eat vegetables? This amusing incident sparked a whimsical journey into the curious realm of the term ‘non-veg’ and all its delicious connotations.
Jokes of many colours
In our school days, the term “non-veg jokes” were those funny stories that hovered around anatomy and things associated with it. Why? Don’t vegetarians have fun? Those were jokes you didn’t dream of taking home, regardless of your culinary preferences. While mothers might blush beet-red with embarrassment at certain jokes, and fathers might turn green with envy, thankfully laughter knows no dietary boundaries! The colours are a reminder of the coding on some menu cards. But in Goa, the colours (red for meat, green for veggies) have a third shade — white for seafood, or is it grey for the grey area? I’m told that prawns in Bengali are often called chingri poka, which loosely translates to insects. This might have some folks squirming, but for seafood enthusiasts, it’s just another tasty treat.
Of the many courses on a buffet table, the meat and fish lie separately — almost like victims of a culinary divide, says the writerJakob Esben H/Flickr
There is a common belief that non-vegetarians do not eat greens and vegetarians do not eat any kind of meat. In fact, the term non-vegetarian is a misnomer. Look at any buffet table… of the 17 courses spread out, diminutive by comparison, the fish, mutton or chicken lies separately, a victim of culinary divide. But the NVs can happily gorge on greens, pinks and oranges before getting their teeth into the meat — or meat into their teeth depending on your dentist. In increasing order of meat-eating, we can classify ourselves as carnivores, omnivores, cannibals... No, let’s just stop at omnivores, the everything-eaters.
Classic myth has it that some nations will eat anything that crawls, walks, hops or flies — even flies. I’m not convinced, but the pandemic had a lot of these theories floating around. So, they would be the true omnivores. For the rest of us, there are sub-classifications that are as amusing as confusing.
A chicken-and-egg situation
When asked, the Part Time Vegetarian (PTV) will admit that he or she fits other subcategories of NV. The OOH chicken types only eat chicken when it’s Out Of Home… because “we don’t cook non-veg at home”. There are mothers-in-law to watch out for. There are others who make no bones about eating boneless chicken, or seekh kebabs, or chicken bharta. Especially if there is half an egg on top. I know one PTV who says she is a “chicken-butter-masala-atarian” — you couldn’t get more precise than that.
There are various categories of non vegetarian or NVs — from the PTVs or part-time vegetarians and the OOH (Out of Home) NVs to the ‘chicken-butter-masala-atarian’Shutterstock
The Egg-atarians are a class apart. Some will not eat the yolks, some will not eat omelettes, and no one eats the shells. Some PTVs will eat eggs when cooked into cakes, brushed onto savouries or if they are certified as “ vegetarian eggs”.
A peculiar offshoot of these PTVs are the Edge-atarians. Always on the edge of non-vegetarianism, they will pour the gravy of the mutton rogan josh over their rice, but will not touch the meat! They are also known to modify their eating behaviour based on the tastiness of the food on offer. They might even venture into eating khidi (khiri) rolls, but that’s an udder story. Like Paneer Biryani.
The writer’s other favourite food community, in tune with fellow Goans, are the ParsisMy Kolkata
My favourite food community, in tune with my fellow Goans, are the Parsis. My friend Yezdi claims that “It’s against our religion to eat vegetables”. A trifle far fetched I thought, till I received an invitation to a Parsi wedding that had the menu on the back. The main menu had everything in meat, fish, and other seafood. The last line was the most hilarious. It read, “Vegetarians, this is a good time to make a change”. I kid you not.
Who needs rare cuts when you’ve got well-done humour on the menu?