Another year of culinary tours has ended and now it's almost Christmas – that magical time of year when you have to be nice to people you don't like, eat too much marmelade roasted ham and lie on the floor with a drink while listening to bells jingling.
So India! My gastronomads were up for everything and entirely took on board the maxim: the best way to access a culture is through its cuisine. Want some home cooked Brahmin food including fermented desert greens at my friend's house? Yep. Want to learn how to smoke yoghurt from some princesses? Yep. Want to know how to eat silver and gold leaf in the Muslim quarter? Absolutely! Fancy a roast suckling pig in the Goan jungle? Yep. What about a cucumber sandwich while floating down the Hoogly River? Yep. Cup of Moonshine tea while staring at the Himalayas in your jim-jams at 6 in the morning? Love to – we'll be there. What more could I ask for!
Travel doesn't just broaden the mind, it makes the mind. The thing about my tours is, it's not about the thread count of the sheets - it's about opening hearts, minds and souls to the beauty and eccentricities of a truly foreign and exotic culture. To leave behind all that you knew before and enter into a different way of eating, thinking and feeling, is what I offer. The willingness to do that, is what makes a tour a life-enhancing experience.
The latest news is that I am contemplating a Southern India tour to add to the offerings – probably for early 2017. To this end I have just spent time in Pondicherry, ex-French town on the south-east coast – think French colonial architecture, French/Creole food, wide quiet streets, beautiful beaches and famous yoga/meditation centre. I also visited the 7th century monolithic temples on the beach at Mahabalipuram near Chennai – very beautiful and mesmerising. Southern India is blessed with spectacular food and I'm planning a magical and romantic tour to include coffee and tea plantations, river trips, cooking classes, meditation, yoga, temples, textiles.... stay very coiled.