An amazing breakfast at the foot of Brahmagiri Hill
I’ve been mostly vegetarian in India. I’ve always been pretty into meat, but not here. In fact, its starting to gross me out. The vegetarian food here is so good and so default that I feel no need for the flesh and blood. When it is available I feel strangely guilty and ill at ease. I generally eat whatever’s given or recommended, but both a Parsi mutton and a Hyderbadi chicken biriyani did not go down well. Yet I’m quite happy to eat whatever starch and vegetable off the street.
Not that I’m becoming vegetarian. If it was my choice and I could eat this kinda food all the time I guess I would, but I can’t. Whereas in India the choice is between veg and non-veg, In Sri Lanka it’s basically ‘fish? no fish?’ I went to a western restaurant in Bangalore and it’s ‘where’s the beef?’ The social structures are entirely different.
Sri Lanka, despite being a Buddhist country, is an island first. Hence a preponderance of seafood, some skinny chicken and furtive beef. Even if I was vegetarian I don’t see how one resists the ubiquitous hot buttered cuttlefish. And sushi. Despite being uncooked it’s still dead.
Yet after eating minimal meat for so long, the thought now grosses me out. Though I’m sure that will pass. I’ve also seen chickens and pigs in the gutter and piles of goat carcasses in the tanneries of Mumbai slums. One does not have the amicable western divorce of the supermarket aisle. I see the stuff we eat.
However, it makes me think of how little of my diet is individual and how much social. Left to my own devices I will eat nothing till I get ravenous at like 2 o’clock and inhale absolutely anything available. That’s often enough for me, though I may get ravenous around seven. This is socially noxious and bad for one, so I moderate into mealtimes, but this is socially. When I lived alone I would order pizza at night, eat pizza for breakfast, repeat.
Now it seems that even my meat intake is largely social. I’m pretty vegetarian but it’s not like I had an epiphany, it’s just what’s available. In the cities or Muslim areas there is meat, but in anything near a Hindu holy area or small town it’s almost non-existent. Furthermore, when dealing with unknown establishments or trains, veg seems safer. So I eat veg, and enjoy it. When I get home to SL, however, I wonder if I’ll just switch back. I mean, I didn’t decide the veg thing but I like it better. Am I capable of making that decision, or will I just switch back as socially as I came?