Sunday, August 30, 2015

Musings of a Food-Venturist

The characters and incidents in this write up is purely factual and any resemblance to anyone fictional is purely coincidental and unintentional

I am born into a family of foodies. So it goes without saying that we jump at an opportunity to try out a new restaurant or cuisine that captures our interest. My parents and hubby tread safely when it comes to new cuisines but my sister and I go all out. We are what you can call food-venturists, you see. My sister normally emerges unscathed from such food-ventures but I cannot say the same for myself and end up in food-fixes occasionally.

Now, there are food fixes and then there are food fixes. Some, you can get out of…some, not so easy.

When food’s served, I always go in for my least favourite dish to get it out of the way. In the same First, let me tell you about the food fixes without a way out that I got into…
  1. Dessert disasters: On an occasion we had visited a Chettinad restaurant which had opened close to where we stayed in Dubai. We went to the restaurant and tried out the main course dishes which were excellent. When it came to desserts, everyone ordered for something familiar like kulfi, ice cream and so on whereas I, in a bout of food-venture spirit, ordered for something called “pal paniyaram”. 

    The desserts arrived and the one I ordered looked nice enough. I had the look of the proud parent of a prodigy as I goaded my sister about her safe choice of ice cream Sundae.

    Now imagine this in slow motion: Me, dipping my spoon into the bowl and taking the first spoonful of the delicate little dumplings swimming in the milk. Me having my first mouthful as my sister looks on, albeit enviously. My expression gradually changing from expectant to shocked to pained as a sugar explosion occurs inside my mouth. It wouldn’t be exaggeration if I said that my tongue was numbed from the sugar level in the dessert. My eyes tearing up, not from joy, but from the excessive sugar content in the dessert. Cut!

    What previously looked to me a medium sized bowl now looked like an uphill climb through Sugar Mountain. After a few spoonfuls, I gave up and ended up watching my sister enjoy her sundae a little too enthusiastically.

    On yet another occasion, we had been to one of the authentic vegetarian restaurants in Kuwait post the weekly grocery shopping. We had idli, vada and dosa to our hearts’ content and was given the menu to order desserts for ourselves. When everyone else opted for the safe option of gulab jamun, I opted for the exotic sounding Shrikand. The bowl with light creamy dessert garnished with pistachios was placed before me.  I dip the spoon into it and take the first mouthful and the first reaction was to control my Once again, The shrikand was extremely sour and tasted more like a poorly made flavoured yoghurt than the creamy dessert the menu promised. Once again, I had to forego dessert and watch the gulab jamuns in my sister’s bowl disappear.

  2. Self-made disasters: The genes related to aesthetics, cooking and everything remotely related to arts somehow managed to skip me completely and got transferred from my mom to my sister. This meant that my cooking skills range from 1 to 9 on a scale of ten depending upon the amount of luck I possess on any given day. So, my supply of luck must have been running pretty pretty low on the day I decided to make the vegetables and sprouts soup.
     On paper, this nutritious soup was a delicious and healthy combination of seasonal vegetables, garnished with crunchy sprouts and served in a mild Asian flavoured broth. In reality, it was a mix of overcooked carrots, mushrooms and beans and undercooked mixed sprouts which swam in a broth with plenty of soy sauce in an attempt to cloak the unpleasant taste. Since my husband came home later than me, I had to stick a post-it with “disaster” written on the pan as a warning so that he would avoid tasting it in case I wasn’t around.

    Now that I have regaled you with the food fixes that I couldn’t get out of, let’s move on to the ones that can be fixed, thanks to Tiny Owl. It was probably keeping in mind the likes of me, TinyOwl app for ordering food online was launched. It helps to order food based on your location, customer reviews and delivery times.  
Let me tell you about a few more food fixes since we’re talking about them anyways. 

3. Burnt food syndrome: As I previously mentioned, I am not a great cook…heck, I’m not even all that good when it comes to cooking. That explains why we have multiple pans with burnt bottoms in our household. At one point, both my husband and I used worked in night shift. This meant that once we’d come from office around 5 in the morning, we’d prepare our lunch and then go to sleep. My husband and I took turns to prepare the lunch and kept each other company until the cooking was done. So as usual, once the curry was on stove, I volunteered to stay up until it was cooked before hitting the bed. 

However, my husband insisted on my going to bed and promised to finish up the cooking. Overcome with sleep, I agreed immediately and went to sleep. What I woke up to in the afternoon was a house filled with smoke. I hurried out of the bedroom and I saw my husband sitting sheepishly on the sofa. Apparently, he had left the curry on the stove to simmer and had laid down on the sofa to wait for the curry to be done. Unfortunately, he had ended up sleeping and the curry had burnt to cinders by the time he woke up. 

What this meant was that we were left with a house full of smoke, a burnt pan, hungry tummies and plain rice for lunch.

Now if TinyOwl was available at the time, all we had to do would have been to browse through the restaurants and place an order with the restaurants which had the lowest delivery time and our lunch would have been a little more than the plain rice with curd and pickle.

  4. Road trips and food gripes: Both of us enjoy going on long drives and road trips occasionally. Since we stay   in Bangalore, Nandi Hills happen to be one of the one day getaway locations that we frequent.

Similarly, we have been on road trips to Goa and Mumbai. 

On most of our trips to Nandi Hills, we have had to satiate our hunger with bread omelette and watered down Maggi noodles. On the Mumbai trip, in the excitement of planning, we completely missed to pack food and was left stranded with very few options on the drive. We had to wait till 4 pm in the evening before we came across a decent restaurant to lunch at.

If we had TinyOwl installed on our mobiles, finding a restaurant to dine at would’ve been a much smoother experience because this app detects your location and suggests nearby restaurants.

1     5. The Unknown cravings: Most of the weekends, we plop down on the couch for movie marathon. By the end of the movie, both of us would be craving for something to snack on. Most often, I use my patent dialogue of “I’m hungry. Let’s eat something!” The conversation goes like this:

Me: I’m hungry, let’s eat something.

Hubby: Okay…you want me to make popcorn or get chips?

Me: No…I don’t feel like having popcorn or chips. Why don’t we order something? We can get the dinner too.

Hubby: Sure, why don’t you do the ordering then?

Me: Yeah…what do you want?

Hubby: I’m okay with anything, just go ahead and order.

Me: Okay….yeah, I’ll order. So….no specifications, right?

Hubby: Nope…!.

Me: You’re sure, right. What if I order and you don’t like it?

Hubby: It’s okay, just order alright… (Sounding mildly exasperated now)

Me: Okay…but…

Hubby: Look…let me order. What do you want to have?

Me: I don’t know.

Hubby: You don’t know? You said you were hungry.

Me: Yeah….I’m hungry but I don’t know what I want to have.

What you read above is the excerpt of a conversation that happens frequently in our household.

If you experience similar unknown craving, all you need to do is log in to TinyOwl and it will give a list of restaurants in your locality specializing in specific cuisines.

You can pick and choose the restaurant that will satiate your craving without having to go through the above conversation and a cranky husband at the end of it.

6. Restro-failures: For my sister’s birthday on year, we tried placing an order with this new Pan Asian restaurant in our locality. We ordered for Thai and Chinese non vegetarian food for the three of us. After a wait of 45 minutes and multiple phone calls, the food was finally delivered. Since we had a power failure and were too famished for the power to return, we decided to have a candle light dinner. We sat down for dinner and opened the boxes of red Thai curry and sautéed lamb.

 I took the first spoonful of sautéed lamb and munched on what appeared to be sautéed corn. I didn’t remember ordering for sautéed corn. Next, my sister opened the container of Thai red curry. In spite of a stirring around for a good two minutes, I don’t think she was able to find a piece of chicken in it.   We checked the third container and what looked back at us were not honey sesame prawns but some kind of green salad.

If we had TinyOwl app on our phones, a check on the customer rating would’ve told us which restaurant to skip and which one to pick:

At the end of another 45 minutes, a complaint call and patient waiting, I’m glad to say that we finally managed to get our order delivered.
     7. Hunt for cash: When it was just my sister and me at home, we’d order in fast food anytime a craving hit. I still remember that on one such occasion, we ordered for pizza from Papa Johns and was waiting for the delivery when it struck me that I had exhausted all the cash I had withdrawn. My sister had 200 rupees in her wallet and that was about it. We had approximately 20 minutes before we had to come up with another 600 rupees at 9:30 pm at night. 

The realization made us launch on a treasure hunt through the home to find if we had any cash left in any of our kurta pockets, bags or cupboards. We did manage to find a 500 rupees note in our clutch and the day was saved. 

TinyOwl understands that the lazy loafers like me might not carry cash around when a food craving hits and that’s why they have included the flexibility to make your payment using cash or credit/debit cards.

     Side note: This feature immensely helps when you’re penniless at the end of the month as well. :D

  8. Menu management: I haven’t seen the surface of my fridge in a long time. It’s because most of the area is covered with the delivery menus we receive along with our daily newspapers. Let me confess and say that I’m a hoarder when it comes to delivery menus. It’s not because collecting menus is a hobby. It’s only so that I can pick out the menu for a restaurant when we have to order food when we have guests or when we’re just plain lazy to cook. However, it does become difficult to manage multiple delivery menus and pick one and place an order. 

The creators of TinyOwl app understands this difficulty and has the helpful feature of saving order history included so that the next time you want to order, you don’t have to hunt down the menu.  

   9. Ease of use: TinyOwl also has a clean, hassle free look and makes ordering food as easy as doing a finger tap dance across your mobile screen.

It also provides the minimum order value for each restaurant so that you don’t end up disconnecting after placing an order just because your order doesn’t meet the minimum order value:

10. Surprise, surprise!!!: And as if all these features were not enough, TinyOwl also provides an array of discounts and offers to choose from any time you place an order for food delivery. So no more coupon hunt on the food coupon websites when you get the next hunger pang. 

I have installed TinyOwl on my smartphone so that from now on, my food-ventures would be eventful, only in the good way of course! Why wait, go ahead and take a look at the TinyOwl l app to help you start your food-venture:
This contest was written as an entry for Food Tales with TinyOwl contest in association with Indiblogger.