The sharp scent of red spices and curry powder. Heat emanating from the fresh pieces of naan bread. The sound of silverware clattering against each other. And the sight of native, desi food. I suddenly felt that a piece of me that had been empty for months was alive again.
I was in New York, where I had traveled for fall break in search of a taste of home. I wanted to see all the famous sights of New York City of course, but I was most excited to visit the neighborhood of Jackson Heights. I had been told it was the hub for South Asian food and attire; a treat for all natives who want to seek home away from home.
South Asia is known for its spicy, fiery food and wide variety of dishes. From the day we are born, we adore food. Memories, events and photo albums are incomplete without remembering the food and if anyone ever says they don’t like food – well, they are pariahs from that day on (trust me, I have tried it).
Thus, when I came to America, it was hard for me to adjust to the bland, mild taste of pastas, pizzas and sandwiches. Every now and then, my taste buds started demanding a respite from the constant taste of cheese, tuna, lettuce and carrots, craving the more spicy chicken, beef, curry and green chilies. But until now, I had been unable to fulfill their wishes.
Gyro stand we found in Times Square
Other South Asian students who live in mainstream places like D.C., Chicago or California might think I’m crazy for going all the way to New York just for a taste of spicy curry, but that’s because they probably have places like that near where they live. George Mason University in Virginia has traditional desi food available in the cafeteria every single day. Even New Yorkers don’t have to travel to Jackson Heights for food – the streets in Times Square are lined with carts selling chicken gyro (a Greek dish popular among South Asians because of its spices).
However, Mount Holyoke College is in tiny, remote South Hadley, Massachusetts. There it is impossible to satisfy such food cravings.
Read the rest of this entry »