Of travel and airline food and polar ice caps and kale!

Okayy, folks, have been sending travel bulletins to some people and someone suggested that I blog these as well – so you don’t miss the American culinary adventures of yours truly!

My very first trip to Amreeka – only heard all the hoopla – never seen it so far.

We leave Madras (sorry but I cannot think of it as Chennai still – some fifteen years after its name was changed – “Chennai” still feels like some kind of imposter who snuck in in the middle of the night and took possession as the family snored and the cock didn’t crowed (aren’t you glad I’m not writing a poetry blog??!)

Had to leave that sentence halfway through ‘coz I didn’t know where it was going – took a bit of a wrong turn!

So our flight is at some 4 o’clock in the morning and we had to leave home at just past midnight. That was fine but in HOOOOOTTTT Madras, dressed in as little as you can get away with without the pakkath-aathu-maama (next door neighbour uncle-ji!) getting either an eyeful or a heart attack, we had to think about what the weather in Chicago would be like when we landed and then dress! I also thought that flying over the polar ice cap would shiver my timbers just by looking at it!

Husband being master organiser (it takes years of training, all ye spouses who hate organising, but you can do it!! :)), had managed to get hold of the emergency exit seats – with loads of room in front to stretch legs (don’t have much to stretch being of that generation which stopped growing soon after crossing the 150 cm mark! – but it felt luxurious to think I could if I needed to!). At some 4.30 in the morning, the stewardess serves us a meal – weird time but whatever, time adjustment blah, blah! – but Emirates serves us the most AWFUL meal ever – most of it is unidentifiable – brown and glutinous things which look like the swamp thing – urrr!

We land at Dubai and I’m hungry – my stomach along with my head have forgotten what the time is supposed to be – we have a croissant each at a coffee shop – I love the buttery things so am happy. Why the fatty stuff ? One needs to gird up for travel, you know!

We get bumped up to Biz class at boarding after some high-level manoeuvring by hubby – yippee – I sure could get used to this! (Noticing the transformation to Americanisms as we go west? That is also part of the girding up process – when in Amreeka etc. etc.)

Had a super flight made very super-er by some great champagne (never liked it earlier but now it shall be MY tipple!) while PS sat by my side sipping his… APPLE JUICE – like a good gouty boy!

Slept – very, very well – cocooned in our business class cubicles ;)!

Also watched three movies – one hoary old Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – Liz Taylor very very nice , Paul Newman poutingly hot – though I wanted to SMACK him at times! One Kevin Costner thingy called Black and White or maybe it was Black or White – whatever – it was entirely forgettable.

And a Telugu movie called Pandavulu, Pandavulu something – which was quite hilariously enjoyable.

Flew over the polar ice cap in bright afternoon sunshine – wanted my sunglasses on the flight! But I can’t tell you just how exciting it is – TOO MUCH! Took photos out of the window with the little camera.

Also ate many foods – some strange ones as well – and for the first time – kale in a salad – WHY would anyone want to eat something so bitter???!

Some brilliant chocolates, very polite stewardesses and a VERY good looking steward who took VERY good care of me!

We BREEZED through customs and Immigration – with hubby making small talk and chatting up EVERYONE – including one immigration chappie – with whom he chatted about food, told him about my blog, gave him the blog address and told him we’ll be waiting for him to comment! Enough, you think? No way, Senor Roddy now has a standing invitation to visit India where WE will be happy to take him around!

With some manoeuvring, we managed to get the 2 big plus 2 small suitcases to another terminal by an inner train and then by local train to somewhere in a suburb – where daughter met us. Much emotional stuff happened with three Indians, of whom one was a very shiver-y Indian – Chicago is cold… brrrr… !  Then we walked – some 15 minutes – to where we’re staying. Climbed two flights of stairs to this b&b – very nice couple – who were very welcoming. Already beginning to appreciate the luxury of India where there’s always someone to do stuff for one!

AND this whole affair – from Chennai airport to the b&b – we DIDN’T sweat! “Awesome” it was – to creatively coin a new word – what did you expect after an almost whole day’s journey?!

Had a cuppa and then went out to eat – to a vegan+ veggie place – nice dinner. I sat down and was congratulating myself on my ability to travel without jet lag 😉 – and then the next second, thought I was going to PASS OUT – biggo hitto of jet laggo!

All’s well that ended with a BIG sleep – NO ONE told me i snored!

 And here’s part of that first meal in a Chicago diner – feeling like I belong with Don Corleone as I say that! I didn’t make it – I just ate it!



  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • Chopped carrots – 1 cup
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced, plus 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced – optional
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • Cannellini beans (2 cups) soaked overnight
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1/4 kg kale stems and centre ribs removed, leaves sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large pot over medium heat. Cook onions until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add salt and carrots. Stir in minced garlic, thyme, and red chili powder. Cook for 1 minute.
  2. Drain and rinse cannellini beans. Add to pan with water and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat simmer, covered, until beans are tender, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly. Discard bay leaf.
  3. Working in batches, puree soup in a blender until smooth, transferring it to another pot.
  4. Bring soup to a simmer. Stir in kale and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Simmer until kale is tender, about 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Cook sliced garlic, stirring often, until crisp and golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer garlic to a plate using a slotted spoon. Reserve garlic oil.
  6. Divide soup among 6 bowls. Garnish with garlic chips, and drizzle with garlic oil.

Changing my opinion about kale – it is rather nice! Also ate a quinoa chili – and liked it very much indeed except that they put too much tomato in everything! I think America grows so much-o tomato thay have to use it up somehow! And btw, just before I passed out  (almost) on the table, I saw a guy adding ketchup to his bowl of quinoa chili – maybe that had something to do with the passing out too!