A few years ago, when I first started living in Bangalore, street food was my ultimate nemesis. My main concerns were hygiene, tastiness, and fear of stomach diseases. I’d heard enough stories by then from friends and relatives about the hazards of street food. However, over the last couple of years, I’ve started to experiment more with food; try different things, and I’m so glad I did, because let me tell you, the best food is in the smallest places.
Sitting on the beach in Goa. The roar of the waves, and a drink in my hand. The ultimate bliss. Goa is famous for its parties, fun-loving lifestyle, beaches and one more important thing. Seafood. Even hard-core vegetarians find themselves tempted and lured in by the promises of varieties of fish, crab, lobster, prawns… you name it, it’s in the shacks of Goa. Sitting on the plastic chair, with my feet buried in the sand, and the wind from the sea blowing at my back, I ask him what the catch of the day is. To my astonishment he brings me the most beautiful red snapper, grilled with masala and smelling beautiful. As I dig in, I can taste the freshness of the fish, moist and melting in my mouth, first with the spiciness, and then sinking into the tanginess of the lemon, leaving my senses tingling. I didn’t leave very much behind. 🙂 These days, some of the shacks specialize in other types of food as well, such as pastas. While this is not their main attraction, I was surprised to find out how tasty it was. A word about what to pick at the shacks: stick to the catch of the day, or grilled items. Try to avoid curries, and the like, they tend not to be as mindblowing. However, if you are adamant to remain vegetarian (in which case you may be missing out) contrary to perceptions, there are quite a few vegetarian options as well, such as pastas, curries, salads, and various starters, typically mainstream Indian food.
The reason I can’t name a specific shack in Goa is for one reason. It won’t be there next year. According to a lovely taxi driver who we met, come monsoon season, and the shacks are dismantled. But, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, new ones are resurrected in the coming tourist season.
If you ever happen to be in Goa, I’d say get out of that hotel restaurant and head to the beach to see what you can find. Number one, you will get to experience authentic Goan cuisine, rather than a mashup of all kinds of food (which is what you would find in a commercial hotel) Number two, shacks are right on the beach. You can spend hours with good company, a nice beer and the waves. Some of these shacks, such as the ones located in the Calangute area even give foot massages.
Goa has long been divided into two. North and South, in that the North is full of party people and the South is generally where people go with their families, the more quiet, relaxed side of the state. Having experienced both sides of the state, I’d say the best shacks in South Goa belong to Palolem Beach (Paradise Beach). North Goa has plenty to choose from as well, such as the shacks in Calangute, and Baga, which is actually part of the same stretch of the beach.
No matter how many times I go to Goa, I can always find something new, something different, and something memorable. This time, I discovered the shacks. It’s true what they say: the best food really does come from the smallest places. The shack isn’t just a food experience though, it’s an experience of the mind, body, and soul. It can bring people together, creating an atmosphere that you will never find anywhere else…