Monday, February 14, 2011

Respect them…then eat their brains

Do you want some more brain curry? The lovely lady behind me does...
Old Delhi. I was too focused on smiling to actually get a picture of the howler monkeys. But they were there...
They are not dead, just well-fed.

As my friend Piyush and I emerged from the metro into the hazy New Delhi afternoon, I noticed a family of howler monkeys bounding along the power lines above the market. Thinking they were absolutely precious, I smiled and said, "Piyush, look! Monkeys!" Unexpectedly, Piyush let out a nervous laugh and said, "Don't worry, they won't hurt you...just SMILE." I said that I wasn't afraid, just excited to see monkeys. He stopped me mid-sentence and reminded me not to look them in the eyes. I glanced around and noticed that almost everyone was smiling as they passed under the howler monkeys. Did they know something I didn't? I wasn't about to find out, so I grinned and carried a healthy dose of fear with me as I silently tip-toed under the monkeys, hoping they didn't decide to sling something not so clean at me...

Although I had already been around for a day before the howler monkey episode, I felt like this was my true welcome to one of the most charming cities I have ever been to, hands down. If ever there was a destination where the people, animals, nature, architecture, and traffic were in perfect harmony while at the same time chaotic, this is the place. Tons of people intermingle with free roaming and well-fed street animals (and scary howler monkeys). I have decided that if I were to travel the path of reincarnation after this life ends, I'd like to come back to the world as a street animal (not a howler monkey...although they do get a lot of respect). It wouldn't be so bad to be a gentle and fat vegetarian canine, lazing about in the streets and on the sidewalks soaking up the sun.

The respect of animals here extends to everything on four legs. Even the cows and boars enjoy the kind and gentle hearts of the Indian people. Basically these animals, which would be caged and mistreated, then eaten, in the United States, rummage through the trash and discarded foodstuff of the city. Watching them, I couldn't help but wonder, is trash-fed beef which is free-range as healthy as grass fed beef?

As I was running a mile through the smoggy morning dew with my Himalaya Crossfit friends and pondering this conundrum, I crashed straight into a herd...uh...gaggle...maybe they could be considered a stampede...of pigs chowing down on last night's leftovers. Those pigs were so content that they barely even noticed me almost half-run into them as I tried to avoid getting run over by a motorcycle rickshaw. Silly pigs.

...But when the animals aren't roaming freely, the non-vegetarians of the city are eating their brains.

Yes, I said brains.

Today at lunch, Piyush took me to Karim's in Old Delhi, one of Time magazine's "Best Restaurants in Asia." I could tell this was a well-known place as it was bursting at the seams with foreigners and Indians alike. Excited for the curries, I decided I'd let my local pal choose; any Indian food seemed good to me. When Piyush asked me if I'd like kidneys, I half thought he was joking and said no.

He then mentioned that the brain curry was spectacular. Hesitant, but open to new culinary experiences, I asked him what it tasted like. He told me it was tender and chewy and that, "...eating soft tissue makes you smarter." Being as though I am sometimes the dullest tool in the shed, I agreed to try it. The best part of lunch was every time I took a bite of the tender vittles Piyush would ask, "Do you want some more brain curry?"

I may not have said yes to more helpings of the special curry, but I can tell you this much; I feel smarter already.

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At 9:47 AM , Blogger Piyush said...

I'm happy that you could enjoy my city and India. I look forward to see you soon.


At 5:49 AM , Blogger Cara Deane said...

Silly pigs... Awesome!


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