I tat I taw a puddy tat, I did taw a puddy tat … in Paris
One watches travel channels and food TV and begins to think that one knows it all. Nothing should come as a surprise and often, nothing does. And then one finds Zlebia from Tunisia in the Latin Quarter of Paris!
What is this strange looking shiny pretzel like thing?
It is lightly fermented dough batter, deep fried in a large vat of oil and then dunked for an ephemeral moment in sweet syrup. Result is the crunchy exterior and syrupy gooey interior. The sweetness sets your teeth on the edge and yet you find yourself licking your fingers for more.
Zlebia by itself is not a surprise. What is is the fact that one has known them by the name of Jalebi and has grown up eating these in India. 1/7th of the people on this planet will attest that any boisterous occasion in India calls for samosa and jalebi. Days when one does good on a math test. Days when Indian cricket team beats their Pakistani counterparts. Days when families unite for a celebration and days when friends go out for a bit of fun. I had not eaten a jalebi in more than a decade. Partly because I feel too old to be eating all that sugar in one go but mostly because Indian sweet shops in and around San Francisco Bay Area sell ones with a fluorescent orange glow.
The Zlebia in Latin Quarter tickled my fancy. A forgotten treat at an unforgettable place. And an odd time too. I found it between a glass of champagne at a wine bar and a steak dinner. And I am glad to say, it was perfect. The only way it gets better is when it is hot – straight from hot oil vat to get the syrup coating and on to your plate. If you are in India or Tunisia or Paris and you find a hot Jalebi, set aside all caution, throw away all your prejudices, empty your mind of all pre-conceptions and bite into this cripsy delight.