Grand Ceylon - Napoli, Italy
Rating: 7 / 10
I paused outside for a brief moment to allow a lungful of unfiltered air to reach my lungs. I am all for protocols to protect people, but honestly, wearing a mask whilst walking the whole day is awful. Especially for an asthma sufferer.
My stomach had been well and truly tested on all forms of pasta, pizza and pane and I was dying for some real spice. Luckily, Napoli has dozens of Sri Lankan restaurants spread out in the most random places. I found one three blocks from my Airbnb and decided to give it a go.
As is the case in so many Western movies, the doors opened and everyone fell silent. Who was this caucasian man and what was he doing in our restaurant. People stared uncomfortably towards me probably thinking I had mistaken it for something else. I stood firm, used to being the only white person on numerous occasions, and approached the ordering window.
Smiles all round resounded when they found out I was in fact born in Britain and grew up in South India. Having lavished flattery on their native country, being a returning visitor to Sri lanka's shores, they then proceeded to teach me some naughty words in Singalese, tell me which curry was the spiciest and wish me good luck on my walk home.
The box opened like a firecracker and again I was baptised in those comforting waters of home. Chilli, spices, dal, chicken curry, vegetarian sides and chutneys all mingled to create an intoxicating scent that made my mouth water.
Perhaps longing and nostalgia colour the present time in unrealistic pastels, but goddamn I enjoyed this bowl of food. After having tried six other places during my month long stay, Grand Ceylon ended up mid-tier in my personal trophy cabinet, but that first taste of home-cooking after what seemed an eternity was like winning the World Cup.
These recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.
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"Tastes are subjective, so take everything with a pinch of salty tears"