11 May 2013

Soda in Kathmandu - Gamble Pop!

If you have a job, do the hell outta that job.
Street food is South Asia is a gamble. While a street food feast in Southeast Asia is a glorious and reliable meal, in India and Nepal it can leave you gripping the toilet bowl, crying and wondering why you hated yourself enough to try to eat like a local when you are so clearly a white lady who obviously has a vendetta against her stomach.

Whenever I eat Pani Puri, one of my favourite snacks of all time, I watch the clock like a hawk and hope with crossed fingers that the next twelve hours will pass without, erm, incident. Waking up the morning after a Nepali street food meal with a healthy stomach feels akin to dodging a bullet. "Yay!!!" I find myself thinking. "I survived another plate of buff sandheko/pani puri/bhel chat!"

This morning, as Kalina and I headed to a "Fair Trade Festival" at Bhikrutimandap, we passed a particularly enticing lemon soda cart that advertised his drinks were "with minrals!"

"Let's try one!" She exclaimed, eager to try the celebrated Nepali hangover cure. I nodded enthusiastically, and we both pretended to ignore the fetid tap water, the filthy cups and the near certain bacteria lingering around like a threat to our future happiness.
Can we have the mango soda with no cholera? Perf, thanks.
Fresh lemon soda is a popular Nepali drink, thought to be excellent for the health in the hot weather. Plain soda water, "lemon" (the name for limes here) and a salty masala and mixed together and slugged down in an attempt to stay hydrated. It is available year round in all restaurants, but these carts have only just started to appear on the streets as the temperature heats up and becomes unbearably steamy and humid.

Common sense be damned.
Lemon is normally the default choice, but this chap had all kinds of fruits he was willing to mix into his thick glass bottles of soda - strawberry, orange and even a homemade cola. We chose mango and bravely drank it down.

The salty masala mix is an acquired taste, but for me the salt is less offensive than the sulfur flavour that accompanies it - it kind of smells like a glass of flatulence. However, once I got over the smell I found that the juicy soda was really delicious and tasted exactly like fresh mangoes. 

Dudes. These are limes. C'mon. Let's admit it.

We finished up and handed him back the glass, grimacing as we noticed he didn't really wash our cups, more just swirled them in cloudy water and placed them back on the rack to be re-used. Despite our mild hypochondria, we did feel more hydrated, and headed off refreshed to do our shopping in good spirits.

And hey - it's been 7 hours, and I still feel fine. 

.....I will let you know how I feel at midnight.

This also happened at the Fair. Do ya like clowns? On ostriches? Do ya?

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