HAVE a quick visit planned to Pondicherry with no idea where to find the city’s signature French-influenced cuisine? The about-to-be-launched Gourmet Food Walk may be the solution for visitors looking for a special introduction to Pondicherry’s French gastronomical influences. “Most visitors coming to Pondicherry know that they can find good food here,” says Fiona Guerra, the tour’s creator, along with her partner Idriss Madir, “but they have no real idea about French gastronomy—or where to find really good French and Creole cuisine. Many places serve French food—but not all are good ones!” The Gourmet Food walk guides visitors through a three-hour dining experience with the help of the dynamic Julien, a local Pondicherry resident, who is full of stories and experiences of the city’s culinary and night-life.
In Creole kitchens
Guerra and Madir had also launched the Pondy Cycle Tour a year-and-half ago, to give curious visitors culturally grounded, authentic experiences of the city and its many unique buildings and neighbourhoods. The Gourmet Food Walk builds on the success of the cycle tour, but takes visitors inside the world of Creole cuisine on foot this time. Modelled on gourmet food tours found in cities like Lima or San Francisco, this food walk promises a unique laid-back dining experience with starters, a main course, cheese platter, dessert, and a signature beverage in each of four different iconic, heritage locations. “There are introductions to street food in cities like Mumbai,” Fiona continues, “but few by way of truly gourmet experiences of fine dining.” At each stop, there will be mezze platters and/or few dishes presented to showcase the mixing of French and Indian influences: for instance, coriander fish or the presentation of Auroville cheeses. At the moment, the tour is non-vegetarian in keeping with the spirit of French gastronomy, but more vegetarian options may be developed in the future, depending on visitor demand. “We steer clear of the typical multi-cuisine options,” says Guerra, “and in the process also hope to keep visitors away from big fast-food chains like KFC!” Those interested will have to take the tour to know more details, as the idea is to discover food in Pondicherry serendipitously. The tour will involve about a half hour of walking, and will end at Bharati park—where visitors can choose to ride a rickshaw or take a leisurely digestive walk by the beachfront promenade.
On Wednesdays through Sundays, by advance booking only. At `3,000 per person, including the full meal and guide (excluding alcohol). Details: 0413 4200718 (The food walk and the cycle tour, featured right, are organised by Sita Cultural Centre)
— Deepa S Reddy
(The writer is a Pondicherry-based blogger)