Most roadside fast food sellers won’t consume their own food even if hungry, finds survey

Deeksha, August 3, 2011

Nine out of 10 feriwallahs in India swear on the hazardous quality of the fast food they sell, a survey suggests. Almost 92% of the street food vendors polled for the survey said they would never eat their own food even if they were hungry.

We conducted the survey on 867 vendors across marketplaces in eight cities. Here are some responses we received:

A hawker from Mumbai said: “Diarrhoea is a part and parcel of our customers’ lives. But the ones who are loyal keep coming back and eventually develop immunity against the germs. I don’t want to boast, but our hand-cooked fast food is far more effective than any vaccination in the country.”

Sixteen-year-old Ramu, who sets up his stall amidst the sky-high office complexes of Gurgaon, said he is thankful that he never got education. “After all, it’s the educated lot that comes to my golgappa stall near a garbage house and a polluted street the most,” he said.

Shyam, a panipuri vendor in Pune, agreed: “I would never consume the brown watery concoction that goes into my golgappas.” His customers, however, swear by the taste of that concoction and keep calling “once more” even after they have had their panipuri.

A momos vendor outside a multiplex in Bengaluru told us: “What we dump into our dumplings, even I don’t know. But they do sell by the dozens here. My mum would be proud that I finally started cooking, though I haven’t yet retrieved my two fingers that went missing in the process.”

“Samosa at Laloo’s without any aloo” is a one-of-a-kind shop in Patna, which is run by S. M. Jha, an ardent follower of former chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav. Jha said, “I will continue to sell samosas with the most unexpected and unhygienic fillings to Bihari janata until Lalu ji comes back to power. This is my way of paying my respects to the great neta.”

Raja babu, who has a flourishing business of bhajis and puris on Marine Drive said: “People keep coming back to taste the exotic mixture of condiments that I use in my pao-bhaji! And it works great, for if they had seen the macerated, decaying vegetables that go into it, they would have lost their appetite, just like me. But the spices mask the effect of the rotting vegetables and maybe even kill the bacteria, who knows!”

Aslam is the owner of a famous century-old sweetmeat shop at Chandni Chowk. None of his family members have ever tasted the much sought-after jalebi, as Aslam claimed: “We have been blessed with a great family heritage. What goes as ingredients into our jalebis might be as old as my late great-grandfather. So we prefer not to take chances with our health.”

Although conservative in their own eating habits, the feriwallahs of India know that they have nothing to worry about. Come rain or KFC, their sales scale new highs as they continue to tantalize the Indian taste buds.

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