As I woke up gingerly in the morning giving one last longing look at my room, the windows, coconut trees and the lovely home stay, I had a heavy heart..
Who wants to leave Goa seriously? It’s your own voyeuristic escape from everything that you have back home..
I pulled myself up from the lows and decided No, we still have a few hours left before we head out of this gorgeous place and I decided to make the most of it.
So I told Srini let’s eat something very local for breakfast and buy some stuff. Yup local produce from the market.
But first, we had to do that ‘tradition’ that we always do or let me put it this way, I must do it and I drag Srini into it naturally.
Another gem I discovered way back in 2009 and I call it my little haunt, getaway and a beautiful paradise for book lovers.
What is Literati? In crowded Calangute as you walk way from the tourist area, you come across an old Portuguese Goan Bungalow with a lush garden, open spaces and there you see the Book Cafe.
As you walk inside, your heart will jump with joy when you see books all around you in different rooms set up the old fashioned way. You can relax on a couch or sit outside and read before you buy.
This place is run by a lady from Bangalore who packed all her bags and moved to Goa to start this. Every time I would go there I would see her faithful friendly Labrador dog moving around the rooms so easily not disturbing anything.
I can sit here for hours and I mean hours.. The smell of new books,second hand books that no kindle or technology can ever replace.
Charming and polite women staff to help and assist you. They diligently search for a book you ask.It reminds you as to how book shops used to be.
I can go on and on about this place and I must say this, I was very selfish in not telling about this find to anyone for years. More so because only a true book lover would understand and appreciate this. But you got to let go of that ego too.
After buying what I call a whole lotta bag load of books, we were hungry, ravenous even…
As I started searching around, all fingers were pointing towards Mapusa Market including the solution to our hunger pangs.
As luck would have it, it was Friday and Mapusa Market holds a weekly traditional market on that day at the Municipal Area.
Goans from Bardez, Tiswadi and other areas descend to sell their local produce. Even small entrepreneurs from all around Goa come to this market every Friday to sell their produce. It was indeed a blessing!
And right there, bang in the center, in the super crowded Mapusa Municipal market was finally THE PLACE for good local Food. Cafe Xavier!
If you have a car, bike whatever, just park it at least 1 to 1.5 kms away and just walk. Only when you walk you realize the richness and flavor of Goa. And no, neither the sun will deter you nor the crowds. It’s Goa people! No one can be more friendly than them.
I was clapping my hands in glee as I saw one local produce after the other and I so wanted to stop at each and every one of them. Srini would gently keep reminding me, ‘After Breakfast please??’
After getting lost in crowded lanes, colorful hawkers and asking around we finally found Cafe Xavier. Honestly you wouldn’t find it and would keep going in circles until you ask the locals.
You step in and you will see how old, loved and frequented it is by the locals.
A Typical old cafe that serves all kinds of local food, that doesn’t have ‘breakfast items’ but you know what you can eat in the morning. I saw only locals and some foreigners.
The smells of the Mapusa Market overwhelms you. Its a busy busy bazaar and if you are a local market junkie like me, you would not want to leave 🙂
We had crunchy and flaky veg and egg Patties and immediately ordered another round.
Then we saw an item on the menu which was almost wiped out from almost all old cafes during colonial times. If you are an Anglo Indian or Christian or Part Goan like me, your heart will well up when you hear the name ‘Egg Chops’.Memories flooded like crazy to me!
This yummy egg is dipped in bread and Rawa batter fried and served hot. It was one of the staple snacks at my Granny’s place and served in old colonial clubs and I don’t remember having it for years.
With our stomachs stuffed, having Hot Tea and told by the stern waiter to not get up as he will come to us for taking orders, we really wanted to extend another day in Goa now.
What made us even more sad was that their lunch menu was quintessentially everything local. A simple Fish Curry, Chicken Cafreal, Xacuti, even Foogath.. Man.. this was killing us.
Watching the market and it’s buzz we knew that this kind of an experience requires a whole day. Seriously a whole day hanging around Mapusa Market. Hell, I can last a whole day and evening at this place.
But Reality bites and I decided to just buy stuff I had on my list. And the best way to do this is ask the shopkeepers, vendors and am telling you this, they are honest.
Any local produce I wanted, I would go and ask a vendor like where can I get really good so and so, he would tell me the exact way and place.
And if one would open my bag of goodies, it was filled with Local Salt, Kashmiri Chillies, local Goan Chillies, Local Tamarind, Different kinds of Dry Fish and Prawns, Lots of Kokum (dry mangosteen) – a staple in Konkan Cooking, Coconut Vinegar.
The Local Salt is just awesome, I recommend it highly. Remember, the vinegar we use it now and has become mainstream is all chemical and synthetic. Pretty harmful actually.
In the olden days, Vinegar was made from Coconut and Palm trees. And this can make all the difference.
I wished I had shopped for more but we truly were running out of time and space in the car.
Srini was also in two minds as he was loving and savoring each and every moment of it, we regretfully looked at each other and said, ‘Yup another Must Visit Next time.’
Another good thing about the market was that the locals helped you, and I mean the locals who came to buy their weekly stuff too.
We approached buyers, asked them whats this and what’s that and they would patiently explain with a smile. No rush here, no angry glances, no sizing one up, no rudeness nothing. How can you not love Goa more after this??
For all the planning we did of getting out of Goa at 10 am, it was almost 1 pm and we were still gallivanting in Mapusa Municipal Market 🙂
We had no regrets, it was a deeply satisfying experience and we were so glad we could do this. To go through the smells of Goa, to feel it, to savor it.
Another Road trip was about to start.. to go back to where you belong, yet..
I have always believed that wherever one traveled, one leaves a little of their essence behind at that place and one carries a little bit of that place’s essence too..
Now as we slowly moved our way out of the market and started walking towards the car, I knew I left a little bit more of my heart and soul right there in Goa.. . And I did take a slice of it through the smells and Tastes of Goa..