On Saturday the Cotton Bowl converted to the 2013 Diwali Mela festival, and food booths flowed out from the stadium to the shimmery dreamscape of the Chinese Lantern Festival nearby. I arrived on a mission.
Six years ago I went with two friends to Ahmedabad, in western India. For three weeks I ate and drank everything in arm's reach, and the fact that I didn't get sick really pissed off my friends, who were more judicious about what they put in their faces. Then on our last day, before heading to the airport, I ate paneer pakora from a hotel and by the time I got on the plane I was convinced I would die.
I haven't eaten the fried cheese since but I've always hated the idea of there being a food I can't or won't eat. So my goal at Diwali was to find and devour paneer pakora and prove to fate who was in charge of my gullet.
Well, fate shafted me this weekend. I found none of the pakora I needed but I ate my way through some amazing booths in the process. There were countless variations of dosas, the huge rice and lentil crepes from southern India. I had never heard of chole bhature, a dish made from spicy cooked chickpeas and fried bread, but now I require daily doses.
My failed mission is likely my own fault. Pakora is basically anything that's been frittered and I can't believe there was none at the festival. It's far more likely that my tracking skills, already subpar, were completely useless in the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd. And the advice from the information booth, "You should try looking for it," was surprisingly unhelpful.
But I was too filled with spiced teas and jalebi for anything to get my down. So I couldn't find my pakora. I can always man up and make my own. No matter what I was doing better than the middle aged woman manning the booth for a tutoring company, steadfastly eating what looked like hours-old Chipotle as biryani and goat curry flowed only feet away.
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