Tales of the ‘a la cart’ lifesavers

March 31, 2016

This post is a part of the What’s On My Plate series

Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva

The questionable looking, but delicious end product of Dominic's mini food truck is the talk of the little town



Often we encounter that sensation of nothing short of a pang of hunger that symbolises that death is imminent if we do not eat immediately (or that is how it plays out in our heads). More often than not, the visitation of said pang is often on long drives home (after an arduous days labour no less). The road ahead seems long, dark, desolate and seemingly without hope as you begin to fall prey to the jaws of the aforementioned pangs. And just as all hope is lost, a little light emerges from the middle of nowhere, with choirs of angels welcoming you, no less. Closer approach to said light at the side (and not end) of the road indicates that is not the beckoning end, but rather a ‘petromax’ hanging from the cart your friendly-neighbourhood-feeder man. It is these saviours and their endeavours to serve the hungry masses that are both their patrons and near daily congregation that we salute today in text.


These everyday heroes are commonplace, but each one of them carries a tale unique to the food that they serve. While people come and go, making quick pit-stops for a belly refill and the customary local chit-chat in the process, these vendors with their typically rural demeanour absorb like the marinade of their trade, the tales that are carried with patrons passing through.


Some such gems are those which are affably recounted by Dominic, who is now a ‘fixture’ at the Mapusa bus stop/market place. Over his version of Shawarma, which involves a generous dollop of garlic mayonnaise, tomatoes roasted on an open fire (yes, I know what I just did with a Christmas Carol line), pickled beetroot and onion and some lightly peppered chicken grilled on a rotisserie, Dominic regales eaters with tales that are just as personal as his fare. These include stories from his time spent in the Middle-East and how the rigours of life in Goa are arduous but worth it, just to be closer to home. However, with a little probing (and a little is all that is needed), Dominic will share his repository of knowledge that ranges from every lover’s spat in the bustling town to little anecdotes of the town’s bustling history.



Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva

D'Costa Fast Food, led by head honcho, Avelino D'Costa (extreme right) feeds plenty of hungry mouths from all across the capital, and beyond



Similarly, further south from there, on an older road that once served as the National Highway, just beyond Four Pillars that historically marks the official entrance to the city of Panjim, lies the definition of a ‘working marriage’. Avelino Costa alongside his wife, who he fondly merely refers to in true country music fashion only as his ‘missus’, dish out some of the best cutlet pão, stew and Cafreal, a belly has ever the privilege of being lined by. But it is not the food alone that stands out. As the Costas feed the masses, they invariably run out of bread. This is a daily occurrence. Then Avelino, a village hero, will run out to the road and flag a stranger down (and every stranger in those parts knows him) and will ask them to make a run to the local poder for him to replenish his stock of pão. While one waits for the loaves to arrive, Avelino will resume his constant musings and mutterings about politics, current affairs and the nuisance of local strays to while time away. Simultaneously, behind him, usually in the company of his fine meals, many a budding romance will grow in the stands designated to the Santa Cruz football ground.


It is through the tales of these everyday heroes that much of local lore is passed on. These keepers of recipes, time and history are a luxury that, with due respect to every restaurateur out there, a restaurant cannot truly afford their diners.



Fernando's Findings

Dominic is a fixture along the outskirts of the Mapusa market. If you have any difficulty finding him amidst the chaos, plot a course for the Mapusa branch of Canara Bank, and voila! His cart awaits on the other side of the street.

Avelino has a cart, with signage that says D'Costa Fast Food, stationed right outside the football ground in Santa Cruz. Fair warning though. His hours are erratic and his attendance even more so. Do not venture before 7 pm.

The average cost of eating at either Avelino's or Dominic's carts would be an approximate of ₹60 per item (at the time of publishing this review).



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.


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© 2015 by Fernando Monte da Silva