Delhi Belly (or White Man’s Burden)


It’s always terrible when as a white man you get a tummy flu when visiting Asia, especially India. It’s an immediate assumption you can’t eat spicy food and lead a sheltered ‘baked beans on toast’ dietary life.

Perfect Husband is someone who is routinely subjected to innards and crickets for lunch during his China factory visits, will always order the mouth numbing spicy Sichuan noodle soup, happily chew on raw green chillies and can stomach way more heat than me.

So fiery is his palate that it really annoys me when people assume he cant and tone down their cooking, without even checking with us first! Or worse, constantly comment “oh he can have spice ? Are you sure this is not too spicy for him  ?He is just like an Indian (wow)!”

All the time addressing me, like he is a not even there. Doubly annoying.

Because of his fearless and enthusiastic appreciation of the cuisine, we always enjoy our trips to India. Me for the comfort the food brings me and PH for an excuse to gorge.

Our Christmas 2013 trip to Calcutta was planned mainly for him to experience authentic Bengali fare.

And as always the Universe is hilariously ‘un-funny’ and he caught a tummy bug !

He ate soup and bread rolls while I enjoyed traditional Bengali food. To add insult to injury people eyed him with the ‘poor white man can only stomach white food’ look.

He has survived hospital canteen food in Nagpur, drunk water drawn from a well and gorged on every size of North Indian and South Indian thali in Bombay.

So what went wrong in Calcutta? We only ate hotel food. Me being more cautious than hubby. Caution cultivated by a very ‘don’t consume anything that hasn’t been washed by ‘Aquagard’ water’ mother.


Between the Sonargaon restaurant at the Taj Bengal and Oh!Calcutta we planned to indulge in the whole Bengali bonanza from ‘mochar ghonto’ (curried banana flowers),


bekti fish with mustard paste steamed in banana leaf,


luchi- cholar dal ( puris with chana dal )

prawns cooked in delicate coconut milk (not the thick heavy coconut milk used in Thai cuisine),  aloo posto (boiled potatoes in poppy seed paste. oh yeah, faintly narcotic),

milk deserts cooked with date palm jaggery and mishti doi (baked sweet yogurt).

My mother and grandmother have both passed on and I thank God for restaurants like this that can step in to fill this culinary hole.

But thanks to this freak stomach bug, I was the one who enjoyed it all while poor PH spent it with Immodium and white bread.

Rotten luck.

We have no other option but to plan another trip to Calcutta.