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Sunday, August 29, 2010 11:33:05 AM, Rajiv Theodore, IANS

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala's gastronomic delights like appam, puttu and karimeen curry are set to test the American palate soon. The popular American TV programme "No Reservations", in its sixth season, has reserved an entire episode for Kerala cuisine.

Anthony Bourdain, the intrepid celebrity chef and host of the Discovery Travel channel's culinary programme, shot the episode in the state. Culinary tourism is becoming popular with holidaymakers, especially the British, French and Americans, and an increasing number of tourists are trying out local food when travelling abroad.

"When it comes to spices and variety, Kerala is right up there in my alley," says Bourdain, 53, author of 'A Cook's Tour - In Search of the Perfect Meal'.

Bourdain, who ate ant eggs in Mexico, sheep testicles in Morocco, and an entire cobra in Vietnam for his earlier episodes, did not have to undertake such a gastronomical risk in Kerala during his weeklong stay.

For the Kerala episode, the master chef landed in Kochi at the fag end of March and travelled to Alappuzha to savour the backwaters cuisine. He stayed in a houseboat where he tried mussels and kappa (tapioca), a Kerala sadya (feast) and the spicy karimeen or pearl spot fish.

"I am also very impressed with the high standard of food in Kerala, especially the street food," says the chef, who earlier hit the streets in Kochi to taste the varieties offered by 'Adipoli Thattukada' near the Medical Trust Hospital on the busy Mahatma Gandhi Road and NM Fastfood on Broadway.

Bourdain also enjoyed home cooked puttu (a steamed rice powder preparation), meen curry (fish cooked in coconut milk) and some other vegetarian dishes (made with coconut) with Malayalam celluloid icon Mammootty, when he visited the superstar during the shooting of his film "Pokkiri Raja". The food was brought from Mammootty's home.

The "No Reservations" episode will also feature Bourdain's taste debate with Mammootty.

The episode will be telecast on the Discovery Travel & Living channel in India and the rest of the world later this year.

"By showcasing authentic Kerala food in the homes of ordinary people, Anthony Bourdain is also reaffirming that delicious food and hospitality is not just special to upscale restaurants and hotels, but is something that is customary throughout the state," said Kerala Tourism Secretary V. Venu. "It was wonderful to have such a high profile television host championing street and home cooked food."

"Indian food has been under-appreciated in certain parts of the world. I would love to come back again to explore other towns and cities," Bourdain said.

Before shooting the sequence, Mammootty reportedly discussed various cuisines like the

Mediterranean, Continental and Portuguese and the Western influences in Indian cuisine. He also told him about how Kerala delicacies like 'idiyappam', 'puttu' and stew were influenced by the Portuguese cuisine.

Besides Mammootty, the chef shot with restaurateur and Kerala's culinary ambassador Das Sreedharan in Thrikkariyoor, a tiny village in Kothamangalam near Kochi. Sreedharan, who is originally from Thrikkariyoor, owns 11 restaurants in London. "We shot a major chunk of the episode with him in his village," said Bourdain.

In Alappuzha, he stayed in a houseboat, where he was served some homemade delicacies. He also found time to visit a toddy shop where he ate spicy 'karimeen' and prawns.

"I am not too crazy about toddy but the food at the toddy shop was very flavoursome," he said.

As part of his gourmet hunt, Bourdain will now visit Dubai and Beirut. In June he plans to come out with a new book, 'Medium Raw', which will be a sequel to 'Kitchen Confidential'.

(Rajiv Theodore can be contacted at



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