As part of our tour of Kerala, we were keen to sample some of the 'real' food delights of the state, so were pleased when we had the chance to sample a cooking demonstration and dinner with a Keralan family. Being foodies, we were both looking forward to this part of the trip, and my wife in particular, who hoped to gain some real insight into Keralan cooking.
When we arrived at Nimmy and Paul's home, we were greeted semi-warmly, although both were hospitable with offering us drinks. Despite this we felt an air of non-engagement, although both Nimmy & Paul were distracted to a degree by the ongoing news of the cyclone about to hit the east of India.
During the cooking demo both of us had the opportunity for some hands-on cooking, and learnt a few good things about the oils and spices used. However, the cooking was essentially some stirfry, and wasn't overly challenging or deeply insightful. But we were given recipe cards for some of the dishes to take away with us.
The dinner itself was very nice - however, while being billed as dinner with a Keralan family, we were surprised to find that it was just us eating, with members of the family watching on. Not exactly a relaxing/comfortable way to eat! Having said this, the food prepared by Nimmy was very good indeed - soup, prawns with beans, fish, chicken curry, tomato stir fry (part of the demo), rice and pud.
While the food was very good, we had the overall feeling of Nimmy & Paul waiting for us to eat up and go to bring our 'slot' to an end. In other words, part of a somewhat formulaic production line.
Overall, the experience was a bit of a let down - we didn't feel that Nimmy & Paul were overly interested in engaging with us, nor of helping us learn more about Kerala itself. We were there to do a bit of cooking, eat and go - I guess this is what the excursion is about, but to a degree we felt that we were more of an imposition, rather than guests.
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