Misadventures Of A Vision-Impaired Foodie In Goa

Everyone loves surprises, well, almost everyone! Our blind expert, Preeti Monga, has had some hilarious encounters with food that have made her completely averse to surprises, the ones on her plate at least. 

Food has to be the best part about travelling, you never know what will be on your plate!

Food has to be the best part about travelling, you never know what will be on your plate!(Preeti; extreme right)

Two of my greatest motivators in life are travel and food, so I consciously club both my passions together. I always make an extra effort to taste all possible local food of every region I travel to. As you may know, I am blind, so I have an extraordinarily acute sense of taste that allows me to truly appreciate all kinds of flavors in totality.

However, my curiosity to explore and  taste all kinds of available food while travelling,  has taught me to always carry some of my own supplies with me; for there have been times when my taste buds and courage, failed me, and I couldn’t manage to relish strange and unfamiliar cuisines of distant lands.  Like, I will not travel to Malaysia again. My intensely sensitive taste buds refuse to want to ever again struggle with the dreadfully fishy flavors found in everything edible there! Even their chicken burgers tasted like strangely smelling fish! But on the other hand, the mustard wrapped juicy sausages and delicious German Chinese food that I feasted upon in Germany still beckon me to go back there.

And so, here are some of my interestingly funny encounters with food…

A Nutty Story

Let’s begin with Goa and its famous cashew nuts. I must confess that I always throw caution to the winds when it comes to these delightful nuts. Once, a plateful of something to do with cashew fruit was thrust into my hand, and I immediately greedily popped a slice into my mouth…and all hell broke loose! It tasted and felt strange, and the smell nearly made me pass out with repulsion! “Hey”, I shrieked, “please have the decency of being truthful with a person who can’t see what she is going to be eating! You told me these were cashew fruits; and I love cashew nuts, and hence I stuffed the fruit in without giving it a second thought! But, honestly, this is a real bad joke to play on me”! “But Preeti, this is the actual cashew fruit! And this is exactly how it tastes!” defended my newly acquired Goan friend! And that was the last time I ever went close to this dreadful fruit! And then when I discovered that there is also a most sought-after alcoholic local drink called feni, made out of this funny tasting and stinking cashew fruit, I made sure to stay as far from it as possible!

The dreaded cashew fruit!

The dreaded cashew fruit!

Coco’not’ so good

And, then one fine Goan monsoon afternoon, I was flourishingly handed a ten-inch-long boiled lady finger to eat! This I accepted without a second thought, for I was sure, it could hardly do any harm, as I had been eating this vegetable ever since I could remember. But the moment I bit into the salted ‘bhindi’, I knew it was going to take all my courage to be polite and pretend to enjoy this slimy tasteless preparation! And this was not all that was going to test my plastic smile that afternoon; for I soon discovered that the boiled okra was only the appetizer. I had to eat the entire meal that followed most bravely, for everything tasted as if it had been cooked in hair-oil; that is: coconut oil! To top it all, the sweet dish turned out to be made out of cucumber, milk and sugar, which honestly tasted strangely weird! This really put me off all vegetarian Goan food! After this experience, I actually made a mental note, to be overly cautious when I was to accept a vegetarian dine-out in Goa.

Bindi prepared in coconut oil? Never again!

Bhindi prepared in coconut oil? Never again!

Lobster Disaster

The above experiences could not keep me from experimenting with the lovely food in this beautiful land for too long.  Very soon I courageously ordered lobster at a 5 star hotel. My special order was to take some time, so I tried to keep myself happily engaged through the waiting time, with a mug of chilled beer, listening to my friends describe the decor of the restaurant. A short while later, I heard the waiter bustling behind my chair; my heart began to beat faster and faster…as I felt him place my plate in front of me! I must tell you, it took all my willpower to keep from instantly pouncing upon my plate to stuff my sizzling prized dinner into my mouth, right-away! Thankfully, the cloud of hot steam rising from my plate gave me the strength to exhibit good table manners, which honestly, at that moment, I did not care about at all!

As soon as my lobster was cool, out went my hand to touch and see what this mysterious delicacy looked like. The moment my hand touched the giant, creepy caterpillar-like thing with scary tentacles overflowing onto my table mat, I nearly died with fright! I screamed and jumped out of my chair to get as far away as possible from the dreadful creature! Can you imagine how embarrassing this scene must have been for my friends there? But at that moment, I couldn’t care less…I was only looking for a way to escape from my horrifying dinner!

When your food suprises you, not the good kind of surprise

When your food surprises you but not the good kind of surprise

Then, thankfully, my dear friend Melvin was by my side, asking me what had frightened me. All I could babble out was: “I had ordered a lobster, then why have I been served a giant caterpillar?” There were shrieks of laughter, and when Melvin could finally speak again, he explained that the dish I had ordered was lobster cooked with herbs, covered with sauces and then placed in its original cleaned shell, served   in style! No amount of explanations seemed to work; I was too shaken up to even begin to think of tasting what this “stylish” dish was all about! I changed seats with Melvin, sat quietly, still shaking with fear and embarrassed, at my stupid behavior, till my friends finished eating. I left the place, with a lesson: never order anything unknown, unless I have found out everything possible about it.

Some food for your thought isn’t it? This was Preeti sampling the best of Goan food (or not). If you’d like to experiment with your taste buds, let us know where you want to travel to by calling us at 1800 266 8002 or visiting enabletravel.com and we’ll make it happen! Enable Travel aims to make travelling accessible for all!

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Have a food experiment that went wrong? Let us know in the comment section below.

Preeti Monga

Preeti Monga is Founder & CEO of the Silver Linings Trust & Silver Linings Services, and, Director Project, of Project Jyoti of the Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital! Blind since childhood, she has made it her mission to empower people with disabilities and inspire everyone to live with dignity. Preeti focuses on the education of blind children, the inclusion of disabled people in mainstream society and the restoration of eyesight through cornea retrieval. She has won several prestigious awards, including The National Award, 2013, and the Exceptional Achievement in Entrepreneurship Award, 2015, among others!

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