Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Stockholm 2011

Well the world has changed for the vegos... These days in most big cities you have more than enough vegie options, thanks to the italian restaurants.

We are now in Stockholm for a couple of months. THe last time we were here was in 1994 and veggie options then..
well here are a couple of examples

First eve in Stockholm June 1994

Me : Lets looks around and find a good place with some veggie options
Hubs : Sure Hon
walk around and find this menu card with a section that says 'vegetarian' and I say 'wow' this is great. On closer look they are Gröna med biff - 'greens with beef', grönsaker med kyckling - 'vegetables with chicken' you get the picture, the vegetarian section stood for stuff that had vegetables served with the meal :) .Well lets keep walking...

Hey here is Pizza hut and while the pizza is about three times the cost in aus, they have the special and for 20 Krn ( about 5 dollars those days) you can have all you can eat, it also includes vegetarian pizza. Hey we can do that. BUT why is there such a long queue. hmmm Everyones waiting for the 'veg pizza' So hubs goes to sort it out...
Hubs: Hey looks like everyone wants veg pizza, the supreme and havian are accumulating while the veg is gone even before it arrives' can you please put out more veg ones please'?
Manager : Sorry sir, it is order , its is 1 Supreme, 1 Havian and 1 Veg'
Hubs: BUT no ones taking those they are piling up, and we are vegetarians, so have been waiting in the queue for the last half hour.. and no food.
Manager : sorry sir it is 1 supreme, 1 havian and 1 veg'
Me : its ok its our turn now so come back
Hubs: grrrrrr , well at least we are getting afresh one, lets clean it out, So we clear out the family size pizza between the two of us.

Now 15 yrs down the line ... we are back and this time not on such a tight budget. Arrive at 12 noon and after hibs has organised his business meet to after lunch off to search for a quick lunch eat.. Lo and behold, here is a sandwich place 'sandy' and they have a veg option listed for panini, wrap and salad. Hurray Stockholm has changed. So we get our veg sandwiches and feel good.

Evening meal, again struck gold, found this place 'ortagarden' and they had a buffet that was predominately vegetarian. well not bad at all, a bit too healthy ( all steamed and only brown rice and such stuff) but hey we could eat vegetarian meal for 125 Kr each ( about 20 dollars each)

So now that we knew we could eat vegetarian food, albeight very bland, as they seem to equate veggie meals to 'I am detoxing' got greedy and started looking for a mexican or italian that has veg options. This is when I say 'hmm glad we are in a hotel only for the first 4 days. Cant wait to move into the serviced apartment, so I can rustle up something.

Why is it that while I can see spinach ravioli in the fridge section of supermarket (semi prepared meals) there is no such thing in any of the italian restaurants. The only options are 'pizza' and 'penne arabiatta' . The mexican option is worse, the only veg option was nachos.
Swedes must think we are health fanatics, I would love to get them over in one of our true blue fun gatherings with a feast that will add inches to your waist line just looking at it. Check out any indian party :-)

I am not sure of how it was in 1994, but the supermarket ICA is great now. They have a choice of pastas, as well as green and red curry paste that is fully vegetarian. Even found basmathi Rice , red lentils, a variety of spices. So if you can mange to find a serviced apartment, being vegetarian in Stockholm now is easy and I can get my spice fix as well. Hopefully in another 10 years Stockholm will even have some really good veg options in restaurants that is not meant for detox :)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I Love Greece

Well one more on the vegie travellers exploits in Greece. This is a country that loves its vegies. However when you go to fancy restaurants and look at menu, you find nothing remotely vegetarian.
I loved Greece, especially the small towns. Its one more of the countries on my 'would love to visit again' list.
My experience of Greece started in our very first small town we visited. We where in Corfu and decide to take the ferry to Patras. However, after the overnight trip when the boat docked on the tip of the mainland, we had 'had enough' of the sea travel and decided to get off and travel by land! Once on land took a bus to Loannina. Here started our wonderful experience. The bus dropped us of on the highway, about a Km from the centre of town (it is only a tiny little place) After walking about 100 Mts (felt like 1 KM already) decided the pack was too heavy, and hence stopped and got rid of some of the extra clothes into the nearby bin! Met some building workers, who were extremely keen to talk to us 'this is not a Town used to strangers' They gave us huge hugs when we said we are from India 'Hindu's .... You are the first Hindu's we are meeting etc' Mind you I think that's what they said It was all Greek and Latin to me heheheh It was a lot of gesturing and a couple of words here and there by both us and the locals...
We finally found a hotel, and once were backpack free started wondering through the town looking for food. The place had a fair few options, all very informal looking but we had a problem. The menu was all in Greek, and on first glance (using the phrase book) did not seem to have any vegie options!
BUT then this vegie traveller does not give up easily, especially in a town where people are friendly and curious. So I turn on this show all your 32 lovely teeth smile, and say 'vegetariano...' followed by, 'No Meat' 'No Fish' etc This was the first place we went to. There is a lot of gesturing, shrugging of shoulder (by both sides) and a lot of smiles and grins... before the bloke just grabs my hand and pulls me in... I promptly grab hold of Hubbie' and drag him along as well.
Next stop is the kitchen, where the bloke talks to the chef... and the chef smiles. Then he shows me all these lovely pots of simmering food and vegies. I spot a pot of rice as well. Then he goes onto point to the stuff on shelves there (spices, vegies, grains, dhals, meat you name it...) and then to the respective pot... It finally dawns on me. He does not want me to cook, he is showing me the ingredients in each dish! I can do this, I point to the Rice, and couple of pots that has all vegie ingredients, then I point to two of us, rub my tummy to indicate am very hungry... and happily go back to a nice table up front.
The food was very cheap and excellent. We had a ball in rest of our stay in Greece. Almost in every town we had similar experience, and I stopped dragging Hubbie with me into the kitchen. The type of stuff we got was lovely, Vine leaves stuffed with aromatic rice, Capsicum and Tomatoes stuffed with lovely herbs/cheese etc. Some nice curry like things with many vegies like zucchini, beans etc.
Things changed once we got to Athens though. That's one place with a large attitude and hardly any Greek character left. Its just one big city with some great museums and lot of unfriendly people. But then you need a 'town' like that in every country I guess...
Until the next thing I remember, or next place I travel....

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Moses in Victoria island

This is year 2000 and the place is Victoria island off Vancouver in Canada.

Why am I writing this now in 2008? because we were talking about this and was reminded of it! This was one of our usual travels and after a couple of days in Vancouver decided to travel to Victoria island , which is a little walk everywhere type of holiday island.

We spent the day wandering around and checking out lovely sites like the Buchsard gardens etc. Then it was dinner time. walked through each and every street of restaurants, as one would (at least the ones like me...) checking out the menu card posted looking for vegetarian options. As usual it was a case of ,I am going to get soooo hungry that I will settle for the good old spaghetti in tomato sauce , then I pass through this 'Turkish ' place where the chef was having a smoko break. He probably though I was Egyptian (the customs officer in Egypt did so why not him) and was offended when I just passed a cursory glance and kept walking. He stopped me and asked what I was after. I told him, I am vegetarian, and also for a good measure added
Me : Guess its hard to find vegetarian options in Turkish food, as most of their stuff had meat, and also I am not really in the mood for spaghetti with tomato sauce as a vegetarian option (this is what a lot of places I had been checking had offered)
He was now truly offended that I had shown no faith in his cooking ability.
Chef: We cook lots of natural and pure vegetarian food with no added ingredients We don't even need salt or pepper as we ensure we add the right combination of vegies to make it possible'
Me: Ok, so what do you suggest?
Chef: Come back in 15 mins (i would have finished my break) and I will make you a lovely meal
Me: Done, we will be back soon, who do I ask for?
Chef Me, My name is Moses.

In 20 mins time, I go back there and peep in to see if I can spot Moses' No luck, but a smart young waiter is around. I ask, is Moses here? The waiter goes inside to check. Out comes Moses

Me: Hi, we are back so can you still make us something nice?
Moses : Of course, I will give you a lentil pilaf, a mixed vegetable turlu and something for later
Me: That would be great, anyway I love the middle-eastern desserts, and will order that later.

Moses goes away and in another 20 mins arrives this meal. The lentil pilaf is out of the world. It is smells and tastes heavenly and so does the vegetable turlu, which ash very subtle tastes and the vegies are crisp but cooked. One of the best meals ever I have had in my life, this coming from someone whose mom is a cordon bleue chef!

Good on you MOSES hope to see you again at some stage.

Monday, January 14, 2008

India has Changed - Everything is available here

Well, after 20 years of living overseas and in the process also getting a non-indian citizenship (makes life easier to travel) we decided to head back home to the 'New India' and try living there. So in 2005, we put out the feelers to say, we are looking to come back, and The IT consultant husband, got a job in one of the Indian IT giants and the move to bangalore happened. This is the story of the now world travelled and wiser Nomad trying to get gas connection to her bangalore apartment. Nomad knew the drama her sisters went through when they first set up home, and thought 'I need to get the gas conection done soon, so I can start cooking'. She is a good researcher.She has done her research, in the true Indian way (talk to other NRI's on how do you go about getting your gas connection, need that to start living in India) and has been told go to the Indane gas agency, and make sure you take some ID (passport will do) and proof of residence, and some cash. If you buy the stove in that agency, the chances are you will get the connection sooner. She had also heard, the mantra yet again 'India has changed, there is nothing you cant get here, and there is no waiting period etc anymore' So she is all set, with her passport, a letter from the employer as proof of residence ,is money, and her ever persent charm. She rocks up to the agency shop , a small little office in the shopping strip, and asks for gas connection at the reception. Nomad: I have moved into St Johns Apartments, and need gas connection. Can you pelase do the needful? Recp: Have you got your pervious connection chit? Nomad: I am new here and have not been in india for 20 yrs, so I need a new connection. Recp: Ohhh You have to wait for the man in that room. This is a guy who looks about 60, and has all the hall marks of a government Babu ( VT knows these as her dad was one...) . Finally she manages to get his attention (after about half an hour)Nomad: (with her brightest possible smile) Good mrning, we have been living overseas for 20 yrs (apealing to his fatherly feelings...) since I got married, and have now come back to live here. I need gas connection, can you help me please? Babu: Have you got your ration card? Nomad: Sorry, I do not have one, I am an Australian Citizen now, and have the PIO card for India. Babu: You cant get domestic connection without ration card, ask your parents, they possibly still have your name in theirs. Nomad: I dont think so... Babu: I will give you address of the place you can get a ration card, get a ration card and then come back... (by now he has gone off to some other conversation with his staff) Nomad, immediately calls her parents, and asks her now 90 yr old dad, 'have you got any proof of my name, being/being removed etc from ration card?' The answer as expected , from the very correct dad is, 'we removed your name, within the first year of your marraige, There is nothing of that with me now.' Nomad strats thinking, this is not working. This means we wont have gas conncetion for at least 6 months... Time to call our 'contacts' and try the Indian way... After spending half an hour on the phone, not much luck in that direction either. So its back to square one... one thing she has been told (in her phone calls) is hang in there and don't leave, eventually they will know you are serious about getting a connection and work out something. Nomad finally (after about an hour and when its almost lunch time, she arrived here at 10 AM) gets the attention of the babu again.... Nomad: Our friend came here last year, and said you helped her, let me know if there is some other means (apparently this is the way, you start negotiations......) . Babu: It was different then, If you had come last July (this is February 2006) I would have given you a connection. Now there is shortage, and we cant do anything without ration card... You get one Nomad: I dont think I am eligible for one, as I am no longer a Indian Citizen. Babu: No you get one, as ID... Nomad: I really wanted to live in india, but if I can't get gas connection I can't live her... (with a hint of tears... ) Babu: I think India is best, I dont know why all young people go to Amrrica and all. I keep telling my boy, you stay here, this is best country.. Lots of Culture..... Nomad: Exactly, (now making the tears a bit more obvious) I agree with you, But I have to cook at home to live here, and I can't do that if I don't get gas connection... Are you sure you can't help me? Babu: Well... I can give you a commercial connection, but that costs more... Nomad: Ho That should be OK, tell me how much? Babu: Well the home one is Rs 300, but the commercial cylinder is Rs1000 (it about 1.5 times the size). Also the deposit is more. It will be good if you buy the stove here, we can give you a package deal. Nomad: Sure, tell me all up what will it cost me? Also can I get it today ? (with a big smile) Babu: OK, I will check... (talks to his guys, and truns back and says) St John Apartments, it wont fit under the bench... Nomad: Well thats OK, in our apartment, the gas cyclinder will sit outside, the landlords have changed it so that it is not under the bench. Babu: OK then let me see.. (again some kannada with his workers), fine you go there and that man will help you with paper work. Nomad with a sigh of relief spends another hour and Rs5000/- but has her gas connection. Sure enough later that afternoon, the cyclinder stove and everything arrives, and for a further tip of about Rs100, the bloke does all the connection! Todays India is all changed, you get everything... Guess its true in a fashion, If you have enough money, and patience, and the weapons (Nomad used tears, feminity, and the national pride of the babu) you do get everything.