Janice Rodrigues|NT BUZZ
While scrolling through social media site, Facebook you might have come across a series of posts listing a few very small local places that serve specialty food and the tag attributing these posts to ‘Talking Street’. A little research will lead you to a website of the same name and it’s akin to opening up the Pandora’s Box of local culinary haunts. These are so small and thoroughly local that they wouldn’t feature on commercial restaurant listing sites, but they are definitely on a local foodie’s list.
Some of these joints are so obscure that even if you are a Goan you may not have heard of them, let alone visited them. Further digging reveals that the brain behind this venture is Bangalore-based Mahiema Kapur, a foodie and traveller. A penchant for local food drove Mahiema’s quest for more information. “I love to travel, and when I visit a place, I like to do local stuff, like connect with people from that city, have the local food and find places where the locals eat. But every time I would go to a new city, we would find it tough to find good places to eat at and I’m not looking at fine dining places, I wanted to find smaller eateries that make wholesome food,” she says.
Thus the idea of cataloguing the restaurants germinated from this quest.
“It was just an idea that I attempted and wanted to see how people would react to it. We started with covering Bangalore,” she says.
Once the website was running it quickly gained popularity and became a frequent link for those who were looking for quality food on a budget. “I realised that there are many other people who travel and love to eat local and it is very difficult to find these places unless you connect with a person who lived there,” she adds.
Ask her about how she got the Goa angle going, she says: “I received a mail from of foodie, Sincliar Fernandes, asking if I wanted to have a Goa angle, so I came here and he took me around to places. Had it not been for him, I would have never found them on my own. This corroborates the fact that you really need a local foodie to guide you such places.”
Thus the Goan sojourn began with one foodie who loved the idea of ‘Talking Street’, and then other friends joining in. “Then I had a long list of places. I took a bike, travelled to the places on my list and some of the owners of the eateries would tell me about other similar places and thus it was sort of a snowball effect that worked out for me,” she says.
One interesting facet of the website is that it not only lists the restaurants, but also gives the visitor some background information about the establishment. “The most interesting part apart from listing the restaurants was actually getting the stories from the people behind the establishments. You would be able to connect with some of their stories,” she says.
Like many other travellers, Mahiema too fell in love with Goa when she visited, “What I loved about Goa is the people are welcoming. In Bangalore there were some people who would refrain from sharing about their lives but in Goa it was just the opposite, people would open up. There was hardly a place where they didn’t offer me something to eat or carry away. Though I visited before, this eight-day trip was the first time I got a real feel of the local culture and how hospitable the people are,” she says.
Up and running since last November, Talking Street aims to add more places to its Goan list of restaurants and expand to other cities as well. “I have to cover another list of places in Goa. I had recently curated two articles of places that are a must-visit in the north and south, but I want to cover the remaining places in the other parts of Goa. Apart from that, at a national level we are keen to cover a lot of other cities as well, she says.
We Indians love our food and this is evident from the number of foodies who have connected throughout the country. Mahiema wants to connect with more like minded people who will help in putting places like these on the map. “They’ve all gained popularity through word of mouth but now we aim to put them on the map”.
Ask her what her best culinary experience in Goa was she throws a surprise naming ‘Mushroom Xacuti with poee.’ “I’m a vegetarian, so it was tough in terms of food, but since I covered smaller places I got to try out things that were not available in fine dining restaurants. I tried a mushroom xacuti, which otherwise we always get the chicken, mutton or the seafood variety. Another fascinating facet was the local breads, how the bakers make them and how one type of bread is paired with a certain dish.” says Mahiema adding that the plum cake she had in Goa was like none other she had tried.