Tag Archives: spain

Restaurants that don’t know chutney from cheese

When you go to a restaurant that says it is Indian, or Chinese, or Thai, you expect the staff and management to have some knowledge of the cuisine they are selling, but I end up being disappointed by restaurants – in Brazil and in Europe – so often  that I thought I would post a rant.

I was actually kicked out of an Italian restaurant in Spain (Santander) last August. I had complained that the food was terrible and sent back my starter, only to then find that my wife had an inedible starter *and* main course – at least my main course was OK. When we talked to the manager about it, he took great offence when we asked if he – or any of his staff – were Italian. When we asked further about which type of Italian food they were even attempting to cook, the manager got angry and said he was cooking Italian food Spanish-style for the locals.

He then booted us out. We had not eaten much, but had managed to consume a free bottle of wine so it was not a bad deal.

Today I went to an Indian restaurant in São Paulo and it felt the same. I ordered the combo meal in the vegetarian section of the menu, expecting some kind of veggie curry, only to get lettuce leaves with chunks of Minas cheese.

This was more of a fast food Indian restaurant, than a high class place, but I have tried several higher budget places in São Paulo and none of them serve anything that is at all authentic. One place I went to claims how they pride themselves on their Maharashtran cuisine, when everything remotely Indian on the menu looks more like north Indian food – and they even had things like pasta on the menu too.

I know that British restaurants are not perfect either. The bog-standard small-town Indian full of Friday night drinkers is usually run by Bangladeshis with dishes that originated in Birmingham rather than Bombay. But visit London and it is possible to easily find very good and authentic Indian food – especially around Southall (Punjabi, Gujurati) or Harrow (Tamil).

I know restaurants often modify food to suit local palates, but why don’t they offer a blend of the authentic and the modified, rather than trying to pass off nonsense dishes as “authentically Indian.”

I actually feel cheated. I go to a “good” restaurant hoping to learn something from the chef and management, not to find that I know an immeasurable amount more about the food than them.

I sent an email to the restaurant I was just at, asking exactly which part of India serves cheese from Minas Gerais on top of lettuce… if they answer, I’ll post it as a comment here…

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Boring, no?

Congratulations to Spain for their world cup victory in South Africa last night. It was well deserved. The Netherlands team had clearly been instructed to shut down any Spanish possession as quickly as possible, but their bulldozer approach to tackles meant it ended up feeling like a really dirty game.

That’s a shame in a world cup final, but I’ve read a lot of people calling the game boring. I wouldn’t agree. It’s true that finals are often boring as both teams play defensively, fearing any mistake could cost them the world cup, but the game last night featured over 30 shots on goal and 14 yellow cards, plus a red card. There was plenty of drama, even without goals.

Were the critics actually watching the same game?

The cheat in wolves clothing…

When I saw this photo of a wild wolf up close and captured with flash, I remember being stunned. It was such a gorgeous photo, and so impossibly framed. The photographer had apparently set up a flash system and camera that would be triggered by any animal jumping the gate – and he knew it was on a route often used by wild wolves. It was said that he had planned this single photograph for many years.

So, imagine my disappointment reading today that the entire photo was staged. It doesn’t detract from the beauty of the photo, but it does mean that the photo was really as easy to take as getting my pet dog to leap over a gate in the darkness while I take a snap.

This photo won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year award and Jose Luis Rodriguez was much feted as a patient master. Now it appears he was little more than a dog trainer operating at night.

The photo has not changed, but our impression of how it was created has. So are these prizes awarding the aesthetic quality of the photography, or the difficulty involved in getting a picture. It would seem far more of the latter.