In our next Globavore Interview, food writer and author Monica Bhide answers the 20 questions.
Her latest book is a novel called Karma and the Art of Butter Chicken, and you can check it and her other works out on her website, MonicaBhide.com.
1. Who are you and how does food play into your travels?
I am a storyteller and I love telling stories about food and culture and how they intertwine with our lives. Food is such an integral part of our experience and, sometimes, when you least expect it, it will surprise you!
2. You’re at your favourite eatery with three companions (fictional, living or dead). Where (and when!) are you, and who are you with?
Drinking Clooney’s Casa Amigos tequila with Clooney. No other characters needed.
(Ed.’s note: Can I come too? :-) )
3. What are your favourite foods?
I love food with texture and have a soft corner for anything spicy. That said, give me a jar of Nutella and all bets are off.
4. Is there anything that you’d never eat? What is it and why?
For me to eat something it has to be cooked. I have seen dishes where the food is still moving on the plate. Yeah, no. Can’t do that.
5. What do you crave but can’t get whilst on the road? How do you satisfy the craving?
I carry my favorite savory salt with me. So whenever I eat somewhere where the food is bland, I whip out my own seasoning.
(Ed.’s note: Share the brand name with us, Monica?)
6. What food are you embarrassed to admit you like to eat?
I am the woman who constantly has orange fingertips. Cheetos. Oh, my. So good!
7. What / where do you dream of eating, but haven’t yet had the pleasure?
A dream of mine is to eat in Bali. Pretty much anything. It is a place I have always wanted to visit.
(Ed.’s note: My advice for Bali is to choose your location very, very carefully. The popular cities are very touristy and touts follow you down the street asking you to buy stuff. Unpleasant. If you can get away from Ubud and from the south in particular and get to a tiny town, Bali can be bliss. I have a few stories about Bali (and the nearby Gili islands) on the Indonesia page).
8. Strangest meal?
I once tasted an Indian dessert prepared with the colostrum of cows (they get it right after the cow gives birth). I just could not eat it once I heard what it was.
9. Ever had food poisoning while traveling? Any advice to share?
Yes. I passed out once after eating bad eggs. Please have someone with you if you are in a new city where you do not know anyone. A tour guide, a fellow traveler. I got lucky as a passerby took me to the nearest doctor. I never did find out who it was as the good Samaritan left after depositing me at the doctor’s office.
10. Have you fallen so much in love with a foreign dish that you learned to make it at home? What’s the story?
Yes! I adore Malay curries and I purchased a ton of Malaysian cookbooks after tasting these delights at a local restaurant. I don’t know if what I am preparing is authentic, but I just really love their perfectly spiced luxurious curries!
11. What’s the first thing you eat after returning home from a long trip?
Always the same thing – rice and lentils. So soothing!
12. Favourite foreign ingredient you wish your home supermarket carried?
Fresh tender coconuts. Oh, the delicious coconut water is so good for the body and the soul! We get great bottled coconut water here but it is so expensive!
13. Country / city where you’ve found the best food? Details please so we can check it out too!
I am, of course, biased to India! I love traveling around India and eating in all the wonderful cities. For details, please check out this story I did for Food & Wine on Mumbai: A Passage to Mumbai.
14. Country / city where you’ve found the worst? What made it so awful?
No awful experiences yet!
15. Do you have favourite markets for a) buying stuff to eat b) finding unusual things (which you may or may not want to actually eat!) and c) just for taking photos?
I love going to all the local farmer markets in the different countries I visit. I just never know what I am going to find. But, I never write off local stories. I discovered Buddha’s Hand at a store in Washington, D.C.!
16. If money were no object, where (and what) would you eat?
Oh, everywhere! I would pack up my family and just travel the world! Sounds clichéd, I know. But it really is a dream to travel around the world, eat and tell stories!
(Ed.’s note: don’t I know it! :-) )
17. Do you have any food regrets?
I wish I had traveled more when I was younger – this would have helped me try new foods!
18. If you could invent any ice cream flavour, what would it be? (yes, I am looking for ideas to add to my ice cream repertoire!)
Has to be something with saffron and tequila.
19. What do you love and hate about food writing (yours and/or in general)?
All the eating!! My eyes have a big appetite but my stomach can only take so much!
20. You’re having surgery tomorrow and there’s a reasonable chance you’ll lose your ability to taste (oh the horrors!). What would you choose as, essentially, your last meal?
Anything my parents would cook for me!
Monica Bhide is an internationally renowned writer known for sharing food, culture, love, and life with a lyrical voice and universal appeal. She has built a diverse and solid audience through the publication of three cookbooks, her collection of short stories, her website, MonicaBhide.com, and articles in top-tier media, including Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Saveur, The Washington Post, Health, The New York Times, Ladies Home Journal, AARP The Magazine, Parents, and many others. In April, Mashable.com picked her as one of the top ten food writers on Twitter. Monica frequently teaches at the Smithsonian. Her seventh book, Karma and the Art of Butter Chicken, released this year.