All’s been quiet on the blogging front these past few weeks. Blame it on end-of-term craziness, blame it on the three-day junior high English camp that ran me into the ground, blame it on sheer laziness/lethargy, or blame it on the massive head cold that has my nasal cavities producing approximately two gallons of mucus a day…whatever the case, I’ve been slacking immensely in regards to writing posts lately. I’ve still got loads of posts about the latter half of my India/Nepal trip, but before I forge ahead into Nepalese territory, I thought I’d insert a brief interlude about my trip up to the northern island of Hokkaido in early February.
The annual 雪祭り (Yuki Matsuri, snow festival) in Sapporo is without a doubt one of the most famous annual events in all of Japan. When it comes to winter festivals, it undoubtedly takes the top spot. Every year, thousand of visitors, Japanese and foreign alike, flock to Sapporo to marvel at the huge snow sculptures that take over the narrow stretch of Ōdōri Park for a week in early February.
Given the proximity of Aomori to Sapporo, I was determined to make it up to the snow festival at least once while living here. Yet every year when the time came around to book hotel and train tickets, one thing or another would cause me to balk and reason, “I’ll just go next year.” This year, finally, I made it up for the festival and enjoyed two days of beautiful snow sculptures, delicious food, and temperatures so cold that I rocked the “ninja-lite” look the entire weekend.
Before I went to India, one of my friends remarked that he didn’t like the Subcontinent’s cuisine because, to paraphrase him, “it’s basically just a bunch of vegetables and lentils boiled down to texture-less mush.” I’d disagreed with him then, and after eating my way across Rajasthan for a week, that feeling intensified by about a thousand. I know that I only tasted the barest fraction of the delicious food the region had to offer, but what I did eat was some of the best food I’ve encountered anywhere in the world. And I ate as much of it as I could. About halfway through our trip, one of my friends had remarked, “I think we’ve all learned at this point that you’re willing to try anything. ‘Well haven’t had a bite of that one yet…’”
As I’m never one to skip an opportunity to making a ranked list, here are the eleven best foods I ate while in India, in no particular order. Don’t read this while you’re hungry.
1.) Navratan Korma – It’s not exactly a secret that India is home to some truly bangin’ curry, and I did my best to taste as many delicious varieties as I could. Of all of those, navratan korma was probably my favorite. In Hindi, it translates to “nine jewels,” which refers to the variety of vegetables, nuts, and fruits used in the dish. Mine had cashews, paneer, carrots, green beans, carrots, and potatoes in it, to name just a few ingredients. There was hardly any oil in it, unlike a lot of the other curries I’d eaten, and the cashews added a huge amount of creaminess. The thing that made navratan korma stick out to me was the inclusion of pineapple. It made for a surprising note of sweetness in what would have otherwise been a pretty mild (and even bland) curry.
Nearest metro station: INA on the Yellow Line, Gate #1
Admission fee: 20 rupees/adult, 10 rupees/child
Hours: 10:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
India is heaven for markets. You can find basically anything you could ever dream of there: spices, food, scarves, saris (both insanely elegant and for everyday), souvenirs, clothes…you name it, you can find it there. And you can probably get it for less than half the original price, if you have good bartering skills. One outdoor market, Dilli Haat, was on my radar before I’d even arrived in Delhi. It’s definitely a tourist attraction rather than a hangout for locals, but that didn’t really lessen the appeal for me. Dilli Haat’s claim to fame is its food court, which gathers specialties from all over India into one place. You can eat your way around the country without ever leaving Delhi. What’s not to love about that? So I set off from Humayun’s Tomb with a growling stomach, set on wolfing down as much food as I could.
Just four days after I’d arrived back in Aomori from America, it was time to head out again. This time, I was trekking down to Tokyo for the long weekend (Monday was a public holiday) to see my favorite band, Muse, in concert on Friday and Saturday. Those shows deserve a post of their own, so this one is solely just about the first part of my weekend. Continue reading Trekking Through Tokyo: Part I→