THE KERALA BACKWATERS 12/1/12
Our house boat ride on the backwaters of Kerala was a unique experience. We started on a small canal, but I soon realized that it was part of a vast network. We traveled down the canals past a diverse group of buildings that included 5-star resorts and dilapidated homes. As we made our way from the canal into the vast lagoon, we could see almost nothing but coconut trees. It was wonderfully relaxing to sit on the shaded boat as it cruised through the waters. We all sat on the deck and chatted and enjoyed the view. This short trip on the backwaters brought me in contact with the best and worst of Indian cuisine. We stopped at a local “Toddy bar”, where the poor come to drink a foul beverage made from fermented coconut water. It’s basically the Indian version of malt liquor, and probably has the same alcohol content. It was poured from a used water bottle (cleanliness questionable) and given to me in a glass. It tasted like a Pina Colada that was left out for a week in the sun or perhaps the basement of my old fraternity house. The meal we had after the Toddy, however, was so delicious, it more than made up for the awful taste of the rotting coconut in my mouth. Prawns were oiled and cooked in a variety of spices and charred in a way that reminded me a lot of Cajun food. There were also small fish cooked in a similar fashion, and prawns in a delicious yellow coconut curry drizzled over rice and vegetables. A very spicy chicken curry was served as well, and the whole meal left my mouth burning with slightly painful pleasure.