While walking down the street in Pondicherry it is important to be alert. With the motorcycles, cars, cows, and goats coming from every possible direction, one second of daydreaming may be terminal. The real reason I’m so alert on the street, however, is because of the smells, sounds, and colors of India. The constant honking, the sizzle of a stove, the waft of curry and spices, the steaming of idlis (soft rice cakes), and the crinkle of newspaper, which is the main thing used to wrap food on the street, are examples of the plethora of sounds and smells on the streets of Pondicherry.
Some of the best food in India is on the street. Street food is made by locals, who have been making a certain dish their entire lives, no doubt passed down through several generations. This food is also made with locals in mind—it is not dumbed down for sensitive western palates. Street food is also affordable for everybody; it’s nice to know that everyone in India can have a nice meal!
Many people find street food scary (stomach-wise). It is true they haven’t scraped the grime off the stove in several years. Oh, and there’s a mini garbage dump right by the kitchen. I’m not convincing you, am I? But these are ancient recipes, perfected on the side of the road to make the perfect combination of spices and flavors, and if you get sick . . . oh well, it is damn worth it. This food may not be served in the comfort of a restaurant, but this is some of the best food I’ve had in India, and that’s saying a lot.
Ok, I’m off to get some street chai.