You know that I am in relationship with food. I live to eat. Nothing, and I do mean NOTHING, has an impact on my mood like food does. I am a living example of hangry, and that it truly exists. Couple of weeks ago, on an uneventful Wednesday night, I was a screaming mess, arguing with Mister for no particular reason. After 10 minutes of pointless debate, he held my face in his hands, asked what I had for lunch, and said, “let’s talk about this later. You haven’t had lunch and must be hungry right now.” I fumed even more dangerously. We went to have a burger and lo and behold, all was instantly forgotten. Yes, hangry.

Anyway. Now that you understand my relationship with food, I have an interesting development to report. Since I have moved to Germany, there has been a paradigm shift in my concept of what ‘food’ is, eating habits and limitations of one’s personal palate. Please note that I am still a carbaholic, and during times of no self-control, you will find me with a stash of peanut M&M, salted crinkle crisps and B&J chocolate brownie ice cream in the fridge.

Abusive/carbaholic aspects aside, my relationship with food has matured since my Nandos-hogging days in Karachi. Some of it has to do with German culture and lifestyle, and easy availability of certain items (like avocado ka halwa); the rest is due to forceful trying out new things in absence of my favourites. Maybe you can relate to some, if not all, of the changes most expats have to face, conquer and accept in relation to our tastebuds when living away from home.

  1. Salad is a meal, not just an entrée: In Karachi, we always had a small bowl of salad with lunch and dinner. However, the said salad mostly had only cucumber and onion. Sometimes, there would be tomatoes, radishes, green chillies and carrots as well, depending on the main course. So, while it was always there, it wasn’t a meal. Just something to go along. It’s only recently that I have started to look at it as a meal, and play around with ways to spice it up to my liking. I’d credit this enlightenment to Suppengrün, a cafe Berlin Mitte that jazzed up salads and soups to an extent that even a non-salad eater like myself enjoyed them. Now, I often fix myself salad for lunch, such as this bowl of green with sautéed champignons.
  2. Spice is NOT the only flavour: Guilty as charged. I couldn’t eat and enjoy anything that didn’t make my intestines scream in agony until 2016. In fact, I still go out of my way for a pitstop at an Indian store to get real green chillies. I can turn up the spice level when cooking at home but when eating out, I had to try milder flavours and boy, was it a revelation or what? From peanut sauce to thyme, cherries and lemongrass, I can taste and appreciate them all now.
  3. Raw meat can be delicious: I had a friend who once told me she ate raw meat while marinating it for BBQ. I barfed. Visibly. I had my first raw meat, ceviche, at Asia de Cuba in Dubai – only because it was dark and I thought it was a shrimp salad. Or was it at Zuma? It was delicious. Anyway. I got a little more adventurous in Malta (also because I had no option). I have come a long way from barfing to appreciating. More recently, I stomached an entire serving of beef tartare.
  4. Bread and rice aren’t meal staples: As Fatma Khalil advocates, flour is evil. It is full of unhealthy carbs, which your body can happily do without. This acceptance couldn’t have come at a better time than now as I restart my keto journey (I will post about it once I complete 30 days). I have since explored a lot of options (thanks to Facebook and Pinterest) to replace both bread and rice in my diet. Like today, I had chicken bihari boti on cabbage salad, and it was delish! Even Mister approved – and you know that doesn’t come easy! Yes, it doesn’t taste as amazing as Nihari with Naan, but neither does Glucophage 1000mg.
  5.  Fruits and nuts are a lazy girls best friends: I have had more bananas in last six months than I had in last three years. No exaggeration. Reason – I am trying to limit eating out and am way too lazy to cook every day. And fruits save the day. If you think my skin has improved recently, it’s all because of fruits ladies! My mom would have been such a happy soul had I adopted fruits earlier. But I am here now Mother India.
  6. Your palate is unique, and you don’t have to necessarily like clams: I will probably never like sushi either. And it’s fine. I don’t judge a German when he can’t appreciate nihari. When it comes to food, it’s you and your plate (and palate). Don’t force it, no matter how cool it looks. Trust me, avocado toast and chia bowls are not everyone’s cup of tea.

Has your way of eating also evolved in recent times? Let’s chat in comments below.