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Eating in 2020

ZUBIN D’SOUZA

I recently attended a management seminar where a host of cultured and educated luminaries droned on and on about the benefits of changing ourselves, of changing perspective and transformation.

Towards the end, the only transformation that I could sense was my genial temperament giving way to an excruciating headache.

The only glimmer of hope came in when the last speaker delivered his keynote address on goal setting and the need for goals to be smart and in sync with our values.

That was the very a-ha moment I was looking for; my watershed moment if you will.

I decided that if I wasn’t going to achieve my goals then I would change my goals to those that I would feel like working towards.

It was unambiguous that I would overlook the diet that I had promised myself that I would go on and totally ignore the twenty kilos that my doctor has been practically begging me to lose.

I would enter the New Year with a list of the twelve places that I would like to visit – one for each month of the year.

Top of my list is a meal at the opulent dining table at the Falaknuma Palace. The palace which was built for the Nizam of Hyderabad who was once amongst the richest men in the world is the longest permanent dining table capable of feeding a 101 guests at a go. Coupled with ornate carved chairs, intricate chandeliers and sophisticated décor, a meal here was once meant only for royalty or the socially connected which makes me feel that I may just fit right in.

Arq-e-Gulab is the last surviving store in Jammu that specializes in hand-distilled rose water. The owner Aziz Kozgar is the last of the traditional unani practitioners whose family moved into Kashmir from Turkey over 500 years ago. When he shutters his store for one last final time, it is going to rob the world of a truly magnificent craft. February being the month of Valentines and all things roses seems like the perfect time to nip into his store to pick up a couple of drams of the good stuff.

Hong Kong and Singapore are definitely on the list for the cheapest Michelin food available. Dimsums at the Tim Ho Wan outlet in Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong and soya sauce chicken and rice at the Hawker Chan stall in Singapore would tick off some boxes off my list without breaking the bank.

Singapore is home to another unique first; they have the world’s first salmon ATM because you never know when you may need some of the unique Norwegian flavours.

This is infinitely better than the egg vending machine at Glaum Ranch in California or the pecan pie vending machine which lies on Highway 71 in Texas.

In not-too-far-away Vietnam lies the restaurant Ngo ThiNham where President Barack Obama and Chef Anthony Bourdain shared a meal. Their table is now ensconced in protective glass but the food and the ambience is Instagram and grandchildren-story-worthy.

And since Presidents and history are my thing, I may even decide to grab a bite at the family owned Martin’s Tavern in Washington D.C. The pub has been the haunt of Presidents and President-hopefuls for years. It was where Kennedy proposed to Jackie and where Nixon came to eat their famed meatloaf.

I am definitely taking time out in the summer to visit the Equator Line Restaurant that lies in Kayabwe, Uganda. The restaurant lies squat on the equator that divides the planet equally between the North and South Poles. So I may probably do the mains in the Northern hemisphere and dessert in the southern or just go all crazy and reverse the locations; or maybe crazier and reverse the order and munch on dessert first!

The Bat Bar in Lost Canyon Cave in Missouri, USA is also on the list. What’s not to love about a bar which lies in a cave on mountaintop; where you drive through in a golf-cart; that has its own waterfall, bat colony and fossilized skeletons of a saber-toothed tiger and

short-faced bear?

And if you thought a drive-through was adventurous, imagine a sail-through which is only possible in the touristy Amstelkanaal, Amsterdam. Here you can commandeer your boat right up to the window of a former watchtower on the canal bridge and place your order for a pizza! Now known as Pizzeria San Marco, this is probably the only sail-through food outlet that I know to be in existence.

However this is topped by the revolving Schilthorn Piz Gloria restaurant in Switzerland which was the setting of a Bond movie and the hideout of the infamous Ernst StavroBlofeld.

Apart from the movie kitsch, the restaurant is known for their jaw-dropping scenic views of 200 mountain peaks during a single rotation. Although a not so picturesque view but definitely kitschy is a visit to the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory in Vermont, USA. Apart from the usual that one has come to expect from a commercial food plant tour comes the unusual in the form of a graveyard that has been set up to flavours that have lived out their life. Whatever the reason for their demise, a walk through here will be part fun and part somber homage!

The Giraffe Manor that lies outside Nairobi is definitely a Christmas gift to myself in the coming year. Home to endangered Rothschild giraffes who pop their heads in for breakfast or a little nuzzle is a stuff

of dreams.

I will also be ringing in the New Year at Sobrino de Botin which is recognized by the Guinness Committee as the oldest restaurant still in operation. It began operations in 1725 in its present location in Madrid and has not ceased operations for even a single day since.

Will I be able to tick all the boxes off my list? Only time will tell for sure! The fact is however, that these may be the only resolutions that I have ever made that I would really work hard at achieving!

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