Travel

Master of Yum

Go behind the scenes of food lover Aziz Ansari's recent trip to India
Photo: Courtesy of T Magazine
Aziz Ansari

Everyone knows the key to navigating the unknown lies in life, liberty and the pursuit of snacks—perhaps no one more than actor-comedian-author-everything Aziz Ansari.

It's been no secret for quite a while that Ansari is a food lover: I've wanted to dine with him ever since I listened to the food-related anecdotes in the Modern Romance audiobook. Then I watched the all-too-real Netflix series Master of None, and the desire specifically became pinned to tacos. The amount of sources he (or rather, his character Dev) uses to pin down the best taco in New York is nothing short of inspiring.

Now my level of fascination is next level: Ansari recently chatted with and filmed a video for the New York Times' T Magazine about his latest trip to India and how he used food to explore his ambiguously defined relationship with his Indian heritage. "I use the food scene as a way in to kind of exploring the culture," he says from inside a miniscule death trap on wheels that passes for an automobile.

Watch below as Ansari takes us to Hotel Mubarak Restaurant, where he experiences authentic Keralan cuisine. That means no menu in sight, banana leaves instead of plates and forks (or "food rakes") falling by the wayside to hands. He also gives us a brief Tamil lesson, including the crucial phrase, "I want food." Other highlights from the December trip include an attempt to hypnotize 1.4 million Instagram followers with a mesmerizing video of a vendor frothing milk tea.

The video is more than just two enjoyable minutes of Ansari's likeable personality. It's a way to take a vicarious trip to India, as we enter the throes of Trivandrum, a South Indian city Ansari describes as "jungly and humid." He takes us into the middle of bustling Chalai Market, with its piles of fresh vegetables and people strolling by carrying metal tubs on their heads, and shares insider secrets on the glory of roadside coconuts.

For us, it's a peek into a seemingly foreign world, but as Ansari shares in the article, it's his way of reconciling the constant push-pull between his Indian nature and American nurture.

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