…January 2007 and I left my job to go to the teardrop island of Sri Lanka.
Having very little travel experience, and unsure of exactly what I wanted to achieve while there, I made a base for myself in Unawatuna, a gorgeous little beachside village on the south east coast, and volunteered as a teacher in a computer institute. Being over 5000km from the nearest person I knew, I started my journey a little timid, eating in tourist restaurants and cafes in the hope of meeting fellow travellers (which I did), rather than branching out into the wide world of traditional Sri Lankan eating. Within a week, however, I got into the swing of things – previously intimidating local cafes were intimidating no more, and I discovered a new dimension to holidays and travel.
Sri Lanka gave me my first tastes of the following:
- Sri Lankan roti (stuffed flatbread)
- Fresh coconuts
- Vadai (deep-fried savoury lentil snack)
- Fresh-from-the-tree bananas, pineapples and papayas (but not mangoes – they were out of season)
- Banana-leaf-wrapped packed lunches
- Egg and string hoppers
- Arrack (liquor distilled from coconut sap)
Now, I probably can’t write too much about a pineapple cart (and “pineapple woman”) or coconuts sold on the beach by an elderly woman with a machete (“coconut woman”); however, I can talk about the roti, vadai, packed lunches and hoppers, and I definitely have some stories to tell about arrack.
So here begins my global streetbite journey… watch this space.