Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Diet-Breaking Tale of True Contrasts

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Diet-Breaking Tale of True Contrasts

Article excerpt

Byline: TOM GUTTERIDGE

DESPITE the fact that in five week's time I'm due to get married in a sleek cream suit still a size too small for me, last week I broke my diet three times.

I blame the rain: our summer of sun morphed into dismal October, so Jo and I decided to try out some local restaurants to warm ourselves up.

First we went to Southern India or at least to Rasa on Newcastle's Quayside.

Now I know a bit about South Indian food. I cooked my first proper curry on a deserted beach in Goa, years before the place had been ruined by hotels and tourists. My girlfriend and I parked up our camper van for a few weeks of solitude and befriended a young man climbing a tree for coconuts.

He introduced us to his family, and his mother taught me the secrets of the Goan fish curry: the dish that smiles at you with its coconut milk before its spices blow your head off.

Our principal reason for heading south was to visit an army base. We couldn't resist the polite invitation from the commander of the Marathas, India's most famous light infantry regiment. Jilly's father had served as a junior officer during the Second World War and he'd written to his old regiment saying that we were touring the country and could we pop in for a cup of tea.

Imagine the scene: a battered old camper van arrives at the smart security barrier. Inside, two hippy Brits, one with a scraggy beard and torn jeans, neither in touch with a bath for two months. The sentry snaps to attention; a bugle sounds. The base commander, resplendent in full dress uniform, marches up and ushers us into an open topped jeep. Jilly and I look at each other in amazement.

A military band leads out the entire regiment and, for a glorious moment, I find out what it's like to be the Queen as we take the salute. It's only when the commandant addresses the troops that the penny drops. …

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