Pastry With a Sense of Adventure

By Jarrett Wrisley
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Photo by Jarrett Wrisley

"You want to eat local food?" said Annetta Fernandes, who runs the beautiful Siolim House, where I recently stayed.

"Yes, please. I want to eat where you eat."

"Ok...Around the corner there is a place," she said sheepishly, "it's called the Hotel Jack Inn. You can try there -- they have very good sausage..."

In India, restaurants have a strange habit of calling themselves hotels when they're not. I'm not really sure why, I should probably look into that. Anyway, the Hotel Jack Inn is a small, five-table spot just opposite the Cathedral in Siolim, Goa (those were my vague directions, and now they are yours).

In this little shack they sell five things -- Goan pastry, newspapers, bars of soap, sodas, and sausage.

This village is close enough to the beaches that you frequently see the naked red skin of well-fed, elderly tourists whizzing by on Enfield motorcycles. That, and the peculiar tribe of people who, regardless of gender, all seem to have dreadlocks, sleeve tattoos, linen Sinbad pants, and ride the economical scooter.

While walking to the Hotel Jack Inn, I saw an inebriated, cycle-riding Russian smack into an Indian man's parked motorbike, pushing it about 15 feet down the street. "How much do you want, baba?" he slurred, displaying his considerable cultural insight before offering him 200 rupees (that's $4). Ah, the joys of Western tourism.

Thankfully the food at Jack Inn allowed me to briefly forget the follies of my people. In this little shack they sell five things: Goan pastry, newspapers, bars of soap, sodas, and sausage. The pastry, or Goan dim sum as I like to think of it, came first. There were croquette-like rounds of soft, mashed potato stuffed with masala vegetables, rolled in semolina flour, and fried. Very good.

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Photo by Jarrett Wrisley

Even better were small fingers of beef that had been cooked in tumeric, cinnamon, chili, cumin, and a few other, unidentifiable spices. This beef was then ground finely, rolled into thin sticks, coated with semolina, and fried. They were crisp and spicy. I'd never eaten anything quite like that.

Finally came the sausage. The Camilo family has gained renown for their version of this dish for 20 years, their daughter Joyce explained to me. Rightfully so. Their sausage fry with onions was slightly sweet at first, but that sweetness lead me to smoke, and spices, and a long, lingering burn. I spooned it up onto pieces of bread off of the chili-stained plate until it was gone.

As I returned to my hotel, the Russian and Indian man were still arguing over the price of a shattered motorbike, and my heart started to burn.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2009/03/pastry-with-a-sense-of-adventure/1088/