April 12, 2010 by ritadate
“Tomato soup, tomato soup, tomato soup.” This is what I remembered from the Pune to Mumbai train travel that I had done more than ten years ago. The concept of train journeys was foreign to me. On my visits to India my grandfather always sent us a car and only after moving to Pune I learned the conveniences of a train. Long rides are dreaded but the Pune to Mumbai route is the most convenient and most fun.
My husband and his friends would reminisce about the good old days and about the wonderful food you get on the trains; they have been planning a train trip for just for the pleasure of eating train food along the way. After planning(or talking) about this numerous times, this trip has not materialized but hopefully it will someday because I came to realize what they were to raving about.
After you become 40 fried foods become a no-no and it is not too difficult to let them go as you just cannot digest food like you did when you were 20 or even 30. My husband and I used to eat out at least 3-4 times a week and now we eat out at most once a week and still find it hard to maintain our weights. Moreover we find it difficult to digest heavy Punjabi style food or fried food but while eating it we love it.
And this is why the Deccan Queen fare was such a treat. No options except fried cutlets, cheese toast deep fried, and omelets dripping with oil.
“Fried pomfret hai, baked beans hai, batata wada hai,, cheese toast hai, chicken cutlet, vegetable cutlet hai and pizza hai,” the server tells loudly and patiently to the non-regular travelers like me who do not know the menu. It is difficult to choose, I love cutlets and cheese toast so I decide to have cheese toast in the morning commute and cutlet in the evening ride home.
He takes my order and leaves. In the meanwhile there are other servers selling other treats, Bourbon biscuits, upma, sabudhana wada, tea, coffee, cold drinks and of course good old tomato soup which I order to have along with my cheese toast.
The servers are very efficient and remember seat numbers and impromptu orders. Everyone gets what they want without having to wait for long. All the meals come in white paper bags which are already coated with the excess oil from the dish. The server hands over 2 small non-absorbent napkins which are better than nothing to take away some oil from your hands. He also gives you a ketchup bottle which you are supposed to use immediately so that he can give to the next person but I hate ketchup and do not take it.
The cheese toast is heavenly. The cheese and bread mingle together and make one formation, one unique creation that is only found on the Deccan Queen. I savor it slowly. I do not feel guilty and enjoy my indulgence.
I go and meet the manager and tell him I will be writing about the food. Mr. Sheikh used to work in several restuarants in Pune and takes pride in beginning pizza on the train a few years ago and he makes me a decorative pizza for the photo. Most pizza orders are in the evening and some order it to take home as well. The kitchen is small but well organized with one person chopping on the floor, one person stirring pots on the gas and one person frying items. I thank Mr. Sheikh and go back to my seat.
I am craving another cheese toast and the kitchen just closed. But I worry not as I know that I will be back in the evening to have more. And I secretly hope that I have more work in Mumbai so I can can take the DQ more often.