This post is a part of the What’s On My Plate series
Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva
The legendary gaddo at Benaulim
I love to read as much as I love to eat, and that is a love that is irrevocable. In the process of this, well, love, I chanced upon a piece by the BBC. A few lines jumped out at me and I decided to investigate further. “People have forgotten to engage all their senses when selecting and eating food, meaning they are ‘disconnected’ from it and their senses have become ‘lazy’,” say researchers at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy.
Now who am I to argue with men (and women) of science, who have dedicated their lives to the fine art of studying the science behind eating? I decided that of course I must pay more attention to my surroundings, and what better place to begin that where the great minds of Goan society gather, that veritable think tank brimming with the greatest ideas and discourse in the state: the local gaddo!
While normally associated with the iconic cutlet pão, my favourite local gaddo is of course in the quaint village of Benaulim, where despite urbanisation, over-populated touristic sites and a German Bakery run by what seems to be the tourist population of Assam, the village goes strong. Having ordered my staple Egg ‘Half Fry’ (not half-fried, mind you) topped with a Beef Gravy and finely diced onion, coriander and lemon juice with a heap of parathas on the side, I sat down to observe my surroundings. My companion (this was involuntary) was an old local who ambled up muttering curses about the government’s ban on beef and how we were all eating cat meat in our cutlets as there was no beef to be found, was Walter; the (apparently) wise old man of the village.
Now, while these observations have indeed happened before, it was for the first time, that I sat down to personally pay attention to them and dig into their near Freudian nature. The thing is, I have had the marvellous fortune of being surrounding by attractive women my entire life. From my mother, to my sister, my friends and associates, to (very significantly) my significant other, the list appears endless. This in turn, when it comes to the topic in question, is a psychological tool. An independent variable, if you will have it.
When traversing through a village path with an attractive woman, you will chance upon catcalls of the most curious kind. I have listed two of my favourites, both of which were noticed on that given occasion, and both of which continue to boggle my mind. The first is the SAX call. Usually undertaken in groups of two, two young village lads will scream SAX in a tenor-like pitch. No they aren’t saying ‘sex’, the word is undoubtedly SAX, and as such leaves one uncertain as to whether they are making a poor attempt at a proposition, venerating Kenny G or just paying tribute to the wonderful former installation of the 6 metre tall saxophone outside Butter Lounge in Candolim. The second one is the hui. To me, the hui is the more questionable of the two, as one simply has no idea what it means, though it is undertaken with unquestionable vigour. Just like the previous call, it is undertaken in similar tone. I have a sneaky suspicion that it is a rite of passage and can visualise, in the recesses of my mind’s eye, a training session where the hui is mastered. In both cases, these calls are usually undertaken from a moving two-wheeler that seemingly rides to the score of 'Chariots on Fire', with this case being no different; the target being an international tourist who was sampling both the local cuisine, while getting a taste of the entertainment at hand.
In the midst of this, I paid for my meal as Walter carried on the polemic against the passing ‘horsemen’, muttering “Moronk Aille” (they have come to die); a phrase I have never truly understood. As I walked away from my haunt of choice, I realised, one truly doesn’t need television while dining alone. A local gaddo will do just fine.
As American cookbook author, teacher, syndicated columnist and television personality James Beard said “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” For those that wish to contest, disprove or just check whether he was on to something, head on down to your local gaddo and eat with your ears for a change. Tweet me about it when (and not if) you hear your first hui!
My gaddo of choice is a 'blink-and-you-miss-it' sort of establishment. Map your way to an edifice structured to look like a pink colour palace (no, I'm not kidding) called Maynard. If you stand before the entrance to the complex and face the road, the cart is at your 10 o'clock.
The 'Half Fry' is less popular than the conventional omelette. However, it is by far better. And always, ALWAYS, opt for the beef gravy.
The average cost of a 'Half Fry' with parathas is approximately ₹70 (at the time of publishing this review).
How to get there
Colva-Benaulim Road, Benaulim, Goa 403716
Food is a huge part of any culture and for me, chancing upon a good meal is synonymous with having a great day. The What’s On My Plate series of posts is where I discuss food, great places to eat, and anything gastronomically moving. This could be anything from a great place to eat, to an obscure kind of food, to an origin story. After all, there is no love like the love of eating.