Have you ever eaten so much you thought you might be sick?
I’ve had plenty of these times. In fact, one time I actually was sick, having eaten too many slices of red velvet cake after a homemade three course meal with canapes, although thinking back, it was probably because I severely undercooked the meat but still ate it. Either way, I threw up on my then boyfriend as we watched an Omid Djalili comedy special, and needless to say, no-one was laughing after that.
Yet there’s been many more times where I’ve challenged my gluttonous ways, and one further example is that because I ate so many Indian sweets when I was in Rajasthan, my sweat would taste of sugar as I jogged around the running track each evening. It was only after that that I stopped the nightly ritual of two gulab jamuns and a ladoo – or at least severely reduced it to one gulab jamun and a ladoo.
And I’m not the only one who has eaten so much they thought they might vomit. I mean, how many of us have seen relatives or friends at celebrations such as Christmas or Eid, stuffed beyond belief on food and drink? My Dad once told me a story one about how he ate so many free fries during a posh dinner that he was almost convulsing on the floor of a black cab. My mate I remember, also in a cab but a Viennese one, once clutched her stomach and scrunched her face as she complained of the ‘meat sweats,’ caused by a dinner of a huge af burger, followed by an equally huge af slice of cheesecake. As a vegetarian then, I never encountered the meat sweats, but merely the regular sweats as a result of my own veggie burger and huge af slice of cheesecake.
Clearly, gluttony is not new for me. It’s what caused me to need to drop weight in the first place and the reason why I purposefully lose a few pounds before travelling just so I can add it back on again from a country’s cuisine. A few years ago, I used to adore the date nights I would have with my then partner, where we’d switch on the TV to watch a film and eat a huge portion of Dominoes, and no, I’m not talking about one medium pizza with two sides to share, I’m talking about two large pizzas each with two sides each as well as a helping of (individual) dessert too. Now date nights with my beau, if they include food, will include enough to get us full but not to the point of feeling icky.
So by and large, I’ve stopped binge eating, especially since moving to Indonesia, where great food you want to gorge on is in short supply for vegans. I love the traditional Indonesian food I can have, but there’s only so much gado-gado – salad with peanut sauce – and ketoprak – tofu, vegetables and vermicelli noodles with peanut sauce – that I can take. It’s too much peanut sauce, otherwise, very unlike the carb feasts I would have before!
But you know what? That all fucking changed the moment I stepped foot in Penang, Malaysia, and realised they had a Little India. Because know this if you don’t know me, I love Indian food (clearly, see aforementioned comments about Indian sweets), and I knew I had to wear my baggy clothes when I visited that little quarter of Penang’s capital the next day.
And wear my loose clothes I did, especially after my first evening in the country, where I had hella naan, hella daal, hella cider and hella vegan pastry, because after four months in Indonesia, I now had easy access to some favourite things which were on my literal doorstep for the next eight days. I ate in Little India itself twice, gorging myself happily on thali’s and sweets, had daal each day too, and I also attended vegan health restaurants for lunch and had cendol* a fair few times. Oh, and I had alcohol every single day too, because again, the ease of just picking it up from the local shop was beautiful.
However, despite having my taste-buds tantalised each day with both old and new flavours, there was one meal that stood out to me the most.
Hell, it was one restaurant which, after seeing it as my friends and I walked in a mall, I had to do a double take on.
It was Nandos.
I think everyone could see the hopeless desire on my face, my breathlessness when I explained that this restaurant is essentially a British institution, that I hadn’t had it in about a year due to travelling, that it’s food was so good, even as a vegan.
So the excitement caught on and we went in. Also, I absolutely wasn’t going to help find another restaurant for our meal knowing we had this beauty right here.
And that, readers, is how I had Nandos as my Christmas lunch.
It was surreal; the flavours were exactly how I remembered them. I had the bean burger sans cheese, peri-peri fries and spicy rice, they even had the unlimited frozen yogurt, although of course I didn’t get this, and OMG, everything was so delicious. According to my mates, the chicken was pretty tasty too, so it’s nice to know that Nandos continues to do its thing in all areas. I took so many photos of my food that day, sending it to friends and family and other British expats, sharing my excitement as I regaled in the fact that even though I was very far from home that Christmas, I still had a piece of it in this meal that, over the years, I’ve shared so many times with both family and friends.
Later that day, bellies full and satisfied, we went food shopping to prepare for the Christmas dinner we would hold later that night, and actually, that was probably the only day where I didn’t have any Indian food and regret it!
Oh, and I like my Nandos rating as ‘hot.’ What about you?
*A newly discovered dessert/drink I’m currently obsessed with. Typically made with coconut milk, green worm-like rice jelly and palm sugar. Popular in both Malaysia and Singapore!
**Also, I totally did not take any good photos of my Nandos because I inhaled it too soon!