Yes, I can make up words.
Since I grew up in Southern California, I tend to compare NorCal with SoCal now and again. I used to do it much more often (like everyday when I first moved up here), but I still do it even though I've lived here for five years now.
One of the big differences I've always noticed between the two regions is the type and quality of Indian food. This is all generalization, but I feel like the Bay Area has a much better array of Indian food options. SoCal has many restaurants, but most are North Indian and most are sit-down. The Bay Area has a bigger variety ranging from North Indian cuisine to South Indian and there are many, many fast food joints including Chaat places. It's so noticeable that even my parents comment on it. When they come up to visit, we usually take them to at least one fast food Indian joint since the food is so good and it's like half the price of most Indian restaurants in SoCal.
Well, it seems the New York Times has noticed the evolution of Indian restaurants and the emergence of Chaat as a central item that Indians crave: Mumbai to Midtown, Chaat Hits the Spot (Julie Moskin, NY Times)
If you've read to this point and you're STILL wondering what the hell chaat is, well, read the damned NY Times article! But if you really don't want to read it here's the run down: chaat is a catch-all term for Indian snacks. It's usually consists of sev (fired noodles, I guess you could say) mixed with various chutneys and melded into spicy sweet goodness. A lot of it is fried so I wonder exactly how bad for one's health the stuff is, but no matter, a good chaat can be better than an In-N-Out burger (and that's saying a lot!)
We'll go for chaat occasionally, but when we go to India it's a dangerous pleasure. Dangerous you say? Well, here, the food is made in relatively sanitary environments, but in India chaat is usually sold from carts along busy streets (as you can read in the NY Times article). The more establish vendors (called Chaat-wallahs) have moved into roadside buildings, but the ideas the same. So as a tourist not used to the food there, we risk getting sick just to enjoy the goodness. Yes, it's a pleasure worth risking your life over!
That being said, I'm starving and it's not close to lunch time yet!
Yes, Sepia Mutiny has already posted about this. I should check them before making any posts about Indian related articles in any newspaper :). Here's the link to their posting: Chutney Lady (Manish, Sepia Mutiny)