It’s funny how you don’t crave something until you can’t have it. As they say, “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” This is true for many things here in India. We miss being able to drive ourselves anywhere we want, whenever we want. We miss being able to walk down a street without having to worry about being pick-pocketed or grabbed. We crave clean air and water, but what we crave most is food, and the food we crave most is beef. We think about it, talk about it, dream about it and talk about it some more. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like we ate beef morning, noon and night 24/7. We usually had beef about once a week, but coming to a country where no one eats beef, ever, has been tough.
Cows are worshiped here because of the milk they bring, and are never eaten. In fact, a lot of people here are strictly vegetarian, due to religious practices. Being in a place where the menus are predominantly vegetarian is hard enough, but turn all of those dishes into curry, and we now have a dilemma. Needless to say, our diet (among other things) has changed dramatically.
Recently, we were talking with a local, and we felt bad admitting that one of the hardest things for us to adjust to here in India was not eating beef. The thought of worshiping an animal as a deity is completely foreign to us, due to our Western upbringing, but our need for meat was no doubt a slap in the face to this Indian. “I could never eat a cow,” was their response, and far be it from us to convince them otherwise.
A few days after we were released from the hospital we found ourselves out and about during dinner time. We were still on a no-spice diet, doctor’s orders, which seemed more like a sick joke because everything here, EVERYTHING, is spicy. Even the “no spice” dishes are like fire! So, we wandered around looking for a place where we could get some bland food, which according to the Indians, is an American restaurant. Lo and behold, we came across the Hard Rock Cafe, New Delhi.
Walking into the restaurant was like being transported back to the Western world. The majority of the people who filled the booths and tables were white, and Aerosmith pulsed out of the speakers. The best part, however, was the menu. Steak, french fries, beef fajitas, HAMBURGERS! We had to pinch ourselves to make sure we weren’t dreaming, and then immediately ordered 2 burgers with fries. The waiter informed us, in the most polite way, that the burgers weren’t in fact beef, but buffalo. From the worry that I saw on his face, I’m pretty sure he was expecting us to go into a rage, because you know how us Americans are when we don’t get our way! But, I like to think that we are not most Americans, and we smiled and told him that buffalo was fine. And it was … it was more than fine, it was heavenly. By this time Britt had gone for 3 months without red meat, and she was on the verge of tears as she bit down into the closest thing resembling home, her burger. This might have been due to the fiasco that we went through the week before, and the pangs of homesickness that have settled in, but nevertheless, this was the best meal we’ve had in a long while. We do our best to follow our travel guide, Lonely Planet, and eat at authentic restaurants and mingle with the locals, but call us weak or whatever else you like, every now and then we just need a break, and here in India Hard Rock Cafe is where we can get a taste of home.