When you think of beverages unique to a place, Paris and Wine, Japan and Sake or the US and Starbucks coffee are some of the things that come to mind. Countries like France take a lot of pride in their wines, and go to great lengths to promote them as a part of their culture as well as a tourist attraction. Infact there are wine tours and wine treks designed for beginners as well as afficionados. (Read Eric at the Paris Daily Photo blog, a truly fantastic blog, where he talks about one such wine ‘school’ in Paris)
In India ofcourse, Goa is the one state that is noted for its own drink, the Feni made usually from cashew fruit. The other one that comes to mind is Tamil Nadu (and maybe, Madras specifically) which is known for its filter coffee. (Check this customised tour of Madras aptly named Filter Coffee Tours!)
For me, a new addition to this list was – drinking Chang in Sikkim.
Our hosts, the Lachungpa family who run this lovely homestay called the Hidden Forest Retreat arranged it as part of a traditional Sikkimese meal that we had one evening. We were told that the drink is made from millet grains which are fermented over time – as such it is very mildly alcoholic, though I suppose it could be made stronger ! The interesting thing is the way it is served, in those tall bamboo jars that you see. One has to literally suck the chang out through a straw, from the millet grain still in the pot. After some time, it dries up and then more hot water is poured in.
Give it a break, indulge in some good conversation or dreaming while looking at the fantastic views around. (which are never hard to come by in Sikkim). In this case the Hidden Forest has its own share of the picturesque, with beautiful flowers (including many orchids) all around.
When you’re done, you can resume sipping again ! After a pleasant hour or so doing this, we went on to our fine dinner, which included steamed yak cheese momos, nettle soup and glass noodles, all home-made and delicious. What else does a hungry traveller need….