What do you call an unfortunate soul who spends 2 days a half in Chicago and visits a grand total of 4 places, namely O’Hare airport, Cousin’s home, Office and Client Location?

A workaholic dullard? No

A lifeless loser? No

Krish Ashok? Yes.

And what’s worse, when he gets precisely 3 chances to eat out, he does so at

  • Mapo Chinese Restaurant, where I had what is undoubtedly not the world’s rarest and most unique dish – Hunan vegetabuh an flied lice
  • Fox and Hound, where I drank water, branded as Miller lite for some reason and ate an unhealthy form of Vengaaya bajji, called Onion rings.
  • California Pizza kitchen, where authentic deep-dish Chicago style pizza is not served.

But I did have fun watching yet another Tambram vegetarian family order food from a non-desi menu. There are 7 kinds of desi vegetarians in the US.

The Takenorisker

Because the fries are cooked in lard, the kitchen uses the same ladles for veggie and non-veggie food, the soup is cooked with leftover bones and yeah, this

“Salad please”


“Shall we go for Pnjaabi Buffet?” (For the uninitiated, Pnjaabi Buffet is the only form of desi cuisine popular in the US)

The Slightly Aventurous Takenorisker

Knows that most restaurants do have something entirely vegetarian on the menu.

“Ill have the 7-layer burrito please”

“Falafel sandwich please”

“6-inch veggie delite on Honey-oat please, with American cheese, and Honey-mustard dressing. Extra jalapenos. Thank you”

The Paranoid Tension Party

The kind that totally irritates waiters.

When ordering – “Is this meat? Is this non-vegetarian? No meat please. Wonly vegetarian.

When the dish arrives – “No meat right? Vegetarian? Sure? Lock kar diya jai?”

After a few morsels – “Waiter! What is this? Is this meat? No? Sure? It tastes like meat. How do I know? I just know. Sure? Ok.”

ps: A particularly nasty subtype of Paranoid Tension Party has the ugly habit of forcing non-vegetarians to order veggie food when eating out with them. And there is also The Thoondivuttufier whose aim in life is to disclose the presence of animal cells in every dish to paranoid tension parties. “Dei. Did you know that this sauce contains meat? Did you know that milk here is also non-veg? Cos cows are made to eat beef. Did you know Mexican beans contain ham?

The Dayoffweeker

“I will have the vegetable fa-jee-ta with jala-peen-os and taar-till-aas”

“Dei? Ennada? Veg-aa?” (Hey? What dude? Veg today?)

“Innikki Tuesday da”

“Oh. Ok. Hanumaan matteraa?”


The Kashtamizer

Is bold enough to order seemingly non-veg items and instruct the kitchen to de-nonvegize it.

“Can I have the Thai chicken pizza without chicken?”

“Can I have the Double-Quarter-Pounder with cheese, without the patties?”

“Can I have steak and mashed potato, without the steak?”

The Ultrakashtamizer

Is the most adventurous of the lot. Generally tends to create new menu items on the fly.

“Can I have the Baja Chalupa, without the beef, and add beans and onions instead?”

“Can I have the Pasta Neapolitana without ham, and could you add grilled onions, bell peppers and chilli flakes?”

The Almostnonveggie

Orders Pepperoni pizza, and removes pepperoni pieces by himself. Eats fries because it does not taste meaty. Enjoys the occasional soup if the meat pieces are not too visible. General philosophy is – Eat anything as long one does not know that it’s non-vegetarian.

So that was it. But amidst all the work pressure, I must mention that I did have some fun teaching my cousin’s kids Madras Tamizh. After all, what’s cuter than a 4 year old girl addressing her dad “Nainaaa. Epdi keera?” (Dear respectful father. How art thou? )

30 responses to “The Grand Adventures in Hawa Hawa City (the complete lack of them, i.e)”

  1. subbudu Avatar

    Dude!! nassthi post ma!! Being an ultrakashtamizer myself, I really frown upon the categories above (too finicky and not adjusting to US lifestyle..bloody pazhams) and look in disgust upon the almostnonveggie…(how can you touch pepperoni with your hands!!)

  2. Arunk Avatar


    1. Chinese restaurant in US for the Indian palette when Thai is always a possibility?
    2. Of all the pizza joints in Chicago – California Pizza Kitchen ?!? I wanted to email you that there is a Gino’s East in the town you were staying.

  3. clarissa Avatar

    Which one are you? (Don’t tell me it’s in there and I didn’t read carefully enough!)

  4. deeptrance Avatar

    There is also the ‘survivor’ group.

    Naana chickenaanu vandhutta, Naan dhaan! Vegi otherwise.

    We meet behind California Pizza Kitchen on Wednesday nights…

  5. 10yearslate Avatar

    How about the

    They run around the supermarkets with a list of additive numbers they look for on the nutrition info panel on the side of the can of baked beans.

    These additives/ preservatives/ emulsifiers/ separators are of animal origin, thus severely curtailing the range of what can be bought.

  6. Rekha Raghavan Avatar

    First of all, 2 and a half days in Chicago is way too less.
    Secondly, great post as usual.
    Thirdly, there is the variety that can be called “Calorie freaker”. They can walk into any restaurant and then scan the menu for fat-free, cholestrol-free, sugar-free, cheese-free items.
    “Tho da! Veetlae thair sadham saaptu vara vendiyadhu dhaanae!”
    I would consider myself “The Slightly Aventurous Takenorisker” and therefore tend to give my demanding palette a lot of variety.

  7. maxdavinci Avatar

    i stick to the ghas-poos(veggie stuff acc to indhi frnds) on a menu, but if you are at a place that serves nuthin other than seafood or like a hunting lodge, then its the ultra ultra kashtamizer……

    enna saar, cheekago vandhu you ate ate kali-porn-ia pizza kichun…….

  8. Srinivasa Avatar

    Calif Piz Kit is primarily a suburban institution quite popular with desi preteens and their Moms.

    You’d actually have been better off going to the Aurora TempLLLL. At least you’d have got a decent serving of obbatt on trace paper. (No extra charge for the trace paper or for the ghee). The TempLLLL is Telugu free on weekdays 🙂

  9. rambodoc Avatar

    What about an Amma subtype of the vagan?
    I mean the orthodox Maami who will not eat cake or ice cream because of gelatin and egg (don’t even trust eggless cakes made in commercial bakeries), drink water from the glass of non-veg homes, and yet.
    And yet, when they visit the son/nephew they trust (because he is a religious, obedient pullai), they have a great time eating at his place, oblivious of the fact that the same plates were used for the Beef tamale last week, and the baklava she relished was not really vegetarian, in spite of son/nephew assuring them “Amma, idhulai onnum illaiyakkum, kettayyo!?”
    Great post, BTW!

  10. Vivek Avatar

    which type are thou?

  11. Giridhar Chandrasekar Avatar

    I used to work in McDonalds during my studies in UK. I have all all the types of customers you have mentioned. Infact i have seen so much of them that once they enter i know what they want. When I place the order for them with the kitchen (My roommate was in kitchen), they get totally annoyed.

    Infact my roommate goes a step further and adds a bit of beef oil to the burger, spits on the patties, stamps them with his dirty shoes and places fresh lettuces on it with sauce and packs them up.

    Haha.. Thats the story behind the screen in almost many places. Be careful not to irrrrritate the chefs…

    (Ofcourse I never let him make my burgers, i do it myself)

  12. krishashok Avatar

    I suppose ones upbringing plays a part. I have no problems with any of these types except the ones who absolutely insist that colleagues and friends eating out with them must become temporarily herbivorous 🙂

    Family took me out on Saturday pa, couldnt say no 🙂 Will definitely catch up with you the next time Im there.

    Born a takenorisker, brought up as an adventurous takenorisker, turned into a kashtamizer on first trip to the US and went onto become an almostnonveggie. Right now, I am a completely new type, not listed above. Veg at my home, Justalittlebittaster at wife’s home.


    The only free time I had was 3 hours on Saturday morning, and I let my cousin and family decide, and they took me to B&N, where I had to buy a China Mieville Sci-fi novel for my youngest brother, and then to CPK for lunch, where we had Thai Chicken pizza without chicken and Thai Noodles without shrimp. After that, it was a mad rush to O’Hare and a costly missing out on seat rows 24,32, 33A/K, 54 and 55 and thus had a long painful 15 hour flight back home on seats designed for hobbits.

    5 years ago, I once visited Red Lobster and tried ordering a totally overcustomized burger. The waiter got confused (it was Texas) and called the chef, who came, took detailed instructions (like “grill onions, bellpeppers, mushrooms and chilli flakes, add cheese and serve between 2 toasted buns”) and actually served me what he considered to be the most unique burger in the world (“world” = Texas, of course)

  13. agraharathil kazuthai Avatar
    agraharathil kazuthai

    I must mention that I did have some fun teaching my cousin’s kids Madras Tamizh. After all, what’s cuter than a 4 year old girl addressing her dad “Nainaaa. Epdi keera?”


    mavanE kishta.. nee vAyga

  14. hari Avatar

    In many other foriegn countries, one would not be as lucky because most of them have no idea what the term “vegetarian” or “non-vegetarian” means.


  15. maxdavinci Avatar

    aaaaa Red Lobster….

    Was in DC on an internship when my boss decided to take me to lunch, he suggested two places ‘madras place’ and ‘red lobster’ and then himself picked the latter……

    i hard a hard time finding an aruval to vettipodafy him later that evening!

    PS: i gave up n hez alive!

  16. farkandfunk Avatar


    High level of awesome-ness as usual.

    I still remember the look on their faces when I used to give my order in mcdonald’s/wendys/BK:

    me: a soda -coke, medium fries , and a cheeseburger without the patty ( in decresing volume ….always starting with the fries, …hoping they wouldn’t notice the last bit and just bring it).

    him/her: (shocked look on face)….’cuse me? what’s that?

    me : *repeating the order* (head bowing down slowly in agony…remembering my mom’s cooking, dying for thairchaadam and oorgai)

    him/her : (partially paralysed by now but able to move lips) … but the cheeseburger without patty —-that would just be the burger and a slice of cheese in between?!

    me : yeah…… there will be lettuce n veggies right and pickles right? can you add some?

    I should have told you about this wonderful thai restaurant in the windy city earlier. I’m not a big fan of oriental food, but that place was a pleasant one. Name doesn’t strike me of now!

  17. Bikerdude Avatar

    Heheheh good one. Hate hanging out with the paranoid tension party types. Here’s my fave:

    The podi payal:
    Orders a bowl of steamed rice, asks for a carton of yoghut, mixes them up. Then orders a round of french fries.. and voila, dips into a bag and emerges with a dabba of home made masala powder which he proceeds to sprinkle over the french fries, to the utter amazement of the entire restaurant.

    “Heaven”, he will say, and gulp the thair sadham and curry-powdered french fries with aplomb. This story will be repeated 100 times back in India in suitable settings like weddings or upanayanams, with all maamis beaming suitably.

  18. maami Avatar

    A veggie loser:
    It was a beautiful sunny afternoon at an outdoor table meant to people-watch by the Champs Elysees.And all I could do was order a burger.
    Then, the waiter slapped a burger with a fish-o-fillet type thingie. I squeaked, “Feesh?” and he barked “Jah?” and plucked it out and slapped the burger back with a beef patty and went back to his kitchen.
    I was too hungry and miserable to care. Ate that slub, with tears smarting my eyes, and prayed I’d be born a non veg next time around.

  19. Rekha Raghavan Avatar

    I was in labor for 19 hours and starving hence for about 30 something hours. My daughter was eventually born at 1:30 a.m. I was then allowed to eat after that. The only thing the hospital could get me at that hour was a chicken sandwich. I insisted on vegetarian, and they said they could get the chicken out of the sandwich. So, decided to stick to cheese and crackers for the night. Guess I was too happy to notice how hungry I was though.

  20. The TAAMommy Avatar

    Hilarious post , cant believe they sent you on a mission to be accomplished in 2.5 days. You must be a rock star or something ? 🙂

  21. krishashok Avatar

    19 hours of labour and then cheese and crackers!You are a Grade 1 Takenorisker 🙂

    Er. Nothing like that. I am kind of like Otthuoodhifier (sidekick) to some rock stars.

  22. Voracious Blog Reader Avatar

    @ Rekha

    Awesome. Kudos.

    @ Giridhar

    Shocking !

    @ Rambodoc

    Hee hee. What about the enormous amount of chocolates that they eat thinking “Choclate-la yenna irukkapordhu” and oblivious of their contents.? This is sadly the mentality of many people too.

    Voracious Blog Reader

  23. K Avatar

    Thanks for making me paranoid about every restaurant :s

  24. Revathi Avatar

    Yes, I am one of those moms asking for plain rice and natural yoghurt in all and sundry restaurants. Once i went with a crowd to a really posh restaurant in France virtually crawling with all types of creatures and tried to order something vegetarian. All I got was a whole melon

  25. Giridhar Chandrasekar Avatar

    @ Voracious BR and @K dont be shocked or paranoid…. We quit the job long ago……. 🙂

  26. Voracious Blog Reader Avatar

    @ Giridhar

    But you would have passed on your wondeful tactics to your fellow workers 😦

    Neither have I eaten at any of the outlets (like Planetyum etc) where they serve Non-veg, nor am I planning to.

    Voracious Blog Reader

  27. Vasoo Avatar

    Some more

    1. Salad Shenbagaraman – the veg brahms kind who will not touch anything other than freshly cut vegetables

    2. Biscuit/Bread Badmanabhan – again of the same kind but living on biscuits and bread

    3. Packed food paacha – the ushar party who carries microwaveable MTR stuff adn enjoys in the room when other vegetarials suffer around

    1. Prathima Avatar

      @Vasu, I am one of the Packed Food Paacha type. Trust me, it saved me from venturing out in biting cold temperatures in both Paris and in China, searching in the dark for a decent food joint, what with already running a fever.

  28. farkandfunk Avatar


    The names are just too classy dude! Biscuit badmanabhan!!!! :))

    Hats off !

    1. Prathima Avatar

      There is also the other kind, who we in our close circles call ‘BeLLuLLi BrahmaNa’ meaning ‘Garlic Brahmin’. Garlic does not appear on the shopping list in of a Brahmin, along with some other veggies. So, there is this Uncvle of mine, who has all sorts of restrictions on the veggies and food consumed except for Garlic. So, we mock at his hypocrisy by calling him ‘beLLuLLi BrahmaNa’

      Those people who do not consume non-veggie food on certain days have earned them the name ‘Part-time non-vegetarian’ in Singapore. So, when I first said that I do not eat non-veggie food, they asked me if I was part-time non-vegetarian.

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