One of the most authentic ways to experience the food of another culture is to be invited into a local’s kitchen and served a home cooked meal. And so I found myself on Thanksgiving Day licking my lips as I sat across the fire from this old woman as she prepared a traditional Nepali supper.
The woman spoke no English, but her son, Manbahadur, said she wanted to know if I would like meat or veggies. Without thinking I said meat and then realized, as Manny scurried past me, that he was going out to slaughter one of the scrawny chickens I’d seen clucking in the yard.
I was in the village of Kaskikot, in the hills above Lake Phewa near Pokara. I had been planning to hike to a guest house recommended by another traveler, but Manny saw me on the trail and invited me to spend the night with his family. The shadows were lengthening so I accepted the invitation. I understood that the family subsidized their modest farming income running their house as a B&B.
The woman made chapati and stirred spices into the sizzling food. Manny's children asked me all the questions they could think of in English. “What is your name?” “Where are you from?” “Do you have any pens?”
Then dinner was served — spicy chicken, curried vegetables, lentils and chapati. Like everyone else, I ate with my hands, devouring the savory meal. It was a dish similar to what I'd had before back in Pokhara. But far from my home, I realized some food tastes better when shared with family, even if it’s not your own.