This set of essays in Outlook, inaugurated by none other than Pankaj Mishra, brought back fond memories of eating out in small-town India.
These eating places did not invest much in appearances. They looked out on half-open drains, and the flies faced no tougher resistance than a rolled-up newspaper. Calendars of Shiv-ji and Parvati-ji happily ensconced on Mount Kailash, or Vishnu-ji lounging on his sea-bed, usually served as wall decoration. As for service, boys in grimy banians banged the chipped cutlery down on the planks of wood that served as a table; their grubby fingers were often wrapped as much inside as outside the glass of steaming chai.From Allahabad to Guntur, Varanasi to Surat, Bikaner to Burdwan, and Kohima to Karaikudi, this is a wonderful set of essays that celebrate cheap yet delicious food. And as Mishra suggests, "it is heartening to think that they exist, and even flourish, these oases of culinary diversity in our increasingly homogeneous world."
Mishra's opening essay here, and the others here.