Ayubowan from Sri Lanka,
. . . a bit more from the mango island: It’s fitting that the country derives its name from a food item as food tends to dominate the landscape there. It’s a beautiful country with beautiful food.
Josef da Cruz lives in Negombo Beach on the west coast. He says he’s a hodgepodge of ethnicity, with parentage “very confused”. Josef muses wryly that “Sri Lankan people eat well and work slow.” The “eat well” component certainly shows, with a majority of the population being a bit on the plump side.
This is partly explained by the rich and copious food and partly explained by the fact that Sri Lanka is developing and newly-developed nations will probably possess a desire to rid themselves of the stigma. Proving that they have made it with curvaceous bodies is one symbolic manifestation of this, I suppose. There could also be some envy of the west at play here. Anyway, they’re fairly portly on the island.
Some of the food is new to us, and forms a cuisine which is definitely different enough to stand on its own.
a mountain of fresh tropical fruit
Breakfast was typically a mountain of fresh tropical fruit chopped into small pieces and topped by desiccated coconut, completing the snowclad effect. Cooked breakfasts can include hoppers, a local delicacy made of rice flour and coconut milk shaped into a bowl and cooked with various extra ingredients in the middle – usually egg. String hoppers are very thin noodles made of rice flour and curled up into tight balls after being steamed. They go well with omelette, green gram and sambaru.
The chef told me that Sambaru is of Indian origin and is made of mustard seeds, Dahl, pumpkin, tomatoes, okra and water. Coriander is added after the water. Before the cooked meal, you could also start with Kurakkan porridge which is a very tasty dish made of the leaves from the rice plant. As well as the other fruit juice options (they love the mixed juices through the juicer) you could have ambarella juice. This is made from the pulverised seeds of a green fruit from a tall tree.
lunch and dinner
Lunch and dinner can be also as decadent. Linda has been trying arrack which is an alcoholic drink made of fermented coconut juice (a bit like whiskey). The devilled pork on the beach was very agreeable and fish is always good; straight from the ocean. The garlic curry is a revelation. How is it possible to eat so much garlic without becoming a social leper? Typically, the meal is brought to the table in about eight or ten small dishes. During our time here, I can’t remember eating anything of a standard less than superb.
Negombo Beach is one of the destinations for western tourists and highly recommended by our travel contacts in Bangladesh. The beefy Russians and Germans have certainly discovered the place. I have to say, it could be a case of the emperor’s new clothes. Admittedly, we weren’t seeing it at its best. It was overcast, the beach had been gouged by big seas and there was a lot of flotsam land jetsam washed up. We have both come to the conclusion that we are spoilt by Australia’s beautiful coastline because there is no way this place holds a candle to any beach in the Illawarra.
Sri Lanka draws us back, without any doubt. They need extra-wide road signs because of their penchant for naming places with long names. They are also a long way along the continuum for attracting tourists. The civil war is over and most people seem to be getting on with life. It won’t be just the food that takes us back to the green island.
From Sri Lanka