Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In search of the perfect Pao

While our honeymoon in Goa last year was idyllic, it was not perfect. We spent the last year with the nagging thought that we had Unfinished Business in Panjim.

I need to backtrack, however. Mian and I are lovers of food; Mian is a consummate baker. These two things meant that we fell in love with the bread sold by the paowallahs in Panjim. Possibly due to its Portuguese history, Goa has a rich assortment of leavened breads. We sampled all these and revelled in the fact that unlike Dun or Delhi where truly good bread is only available if one has the good fortune to be or to have married a baker or bread, it is ubiquitous in Goa. Every morning and late afternoon, we would hear the distinctive two-tone beep of the horns attached to the bread sellers' cycles. We timed our walks to synchronise with the bread schedules. Every day then, we would flag down  a cycle and excitedly uncover the blue tarp covering the cane basket on the carrier seat. Inside would be still-warm heaps of lusciousness.

The pao- a basic roll of white bread with a glossy top.
The brun- a roll, with a chewier crust and an indented top
The roti- a fluffy flattish pocket bread, like a pita but more substantial, and with bran on the top.

We bought them all, smuggled them into our room with wine and butter, and had midnight picnics on the bed. And I was supremely content.

Mian, however, wanted to see where and how it was made. We chatted up a pao-wallah and got the address of his bakery from him. In a fashion, atleast. We looked for 'The Gomez bakery, on the road up the hill' for an entire day, but had to concede defeat. And this rankled for an entire year. My wonderful Mian surprised me by recreating the bread from memory in Dun, but we still wanted to see the actual bakery.

No wonder then, that high on our list of priorities this year was the finding of a maker of bread. It wasn’t easy this time either, and required much chatting up of people, drinking of chai, and wandering up little alleyways. We didn’t need to do all that, because in the end we found it by following our twitchy little noses.

The Padaria Santimano, Fontainhas.

And what did we find there? ah, later..

And by the by, the photos in this post and the ones to follow are all taken by Mian. He managed to stay collected enough to take snaps (with permission, of course) while my thoughts ran along the lines of 'are we intruding? will they mind? oh bread! can we buy some from here? will they know if i grab a bite?' 

1 comment:

nadi said...

liked what you wrote about the breads.

curious though- about why they lead to midnight picnics which leave the pau-eaters content :)
nevr mind why
will just call my husband and tell him to stop for paus :)