Vadapav : Quintessential Street Food


I had said earlier that I am going to dedicate one of the posts to Vadapav, the king of street food (or at least one of the rulers of street food). Well, here it is.

Vadapav is taken to be a typically Mumbai item, and it definitely is. At least it most probably evolved in Mumbai. I can see the item suiting the fast lifestyle of the city, the people picking up a vada pav, as they run to catch the local train.

But my fondest memories of Vadapav are from Ahmedabad. In Mumbai, the vadapav is still a fairly simple item. There is the bread, sometimes slightly heated, the vada, and perhaps some chutney. In Ahmedabad, the bread is practically fried (in oil or butter, he gives you the option, we generally choose butter). The vada is damn hot. There are some spicy chutneys which he smears on the bread before frying it again. All in all, a hot spicy dish, which, satisfies all the criteria of good street food, value for tongue, money and tummy.

I dont mean to generalize and there are probably places in Mumbai, which make it in the same way, but I like to beleive the way the two cities consume vadapav says much about them. Mumbai is fast, functional and focusses on essentials. Ahmedabad just loves to enjoy the food and there is a lot of loving attention paid to the preparation of the food.

Vadapav, for both my husband and me, is the quintessential street food. It satisfies the craving for outside food, it does provide good nutrition (it may not be healthy in the calorie free way, but again, as Rujuta Divekar says, dont count the calories, count the nutrition). Its quantity can be regulated so that it serves either as an appetizer or a full meal in itself.

So much so that this item has taken on an entirely different meaning in our conversations. We assess whatever monetary loss we are likely to have in a situation, based on the humber of vadapavs we would have to forego to make up for the loss. So, are you paying your phone bills and credit card bills late. Fine of fifty bucks. That is three vada pavs gone. Want to take the rick to that place, rather than walk down. That is one vada pav gone.

Its not that we actually forego the vadapav, it is just that assessing loss in terms of vadapav seems to give us a good perspective on the real loss in the situation.

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