For the first time traveler to India, eating can be one of the main sources of fear.
“Will I get Delhi belly?”
The answer is a resounding, “Most likely!” but don’t let that put you off traveling in the most ridiculously magical country on Earth.
Ok, back to the banana. Here’s how you should eat a banana in India. Hold it by the stem with one hand while you carefully peel it with the other…so far it’s just like eating one at home. But here’s the important part-you must ensure that if you’ve touched the outside of the banana, you don’t then touch the part you’re going to eat.
Why? What might make you sick is not the banana itself, it’s the germs in any tiny water droplets etc on the outside of the banana. So with any peelable fruit, just be sure never to touch the outside then the inside-it’s a little tricky with oranges, but there you have it.
For the same reason you should not accept salads in restaurants, or the free glass of water they give you with your meal. The salad would be great, but the water it’s washed in may make you wish you were dead. In some of the restaurants which cater particularly for foreigners, they may tell you they have ‘filter water’ which would then be OK for you, so this is not a blanket rule, but be guided by the surroundings-if it’s a five star hotel, you’re right to eat anything, as it’s all made for foreigners to eat, but if you’re in a little roadside stall in the middle of nowhere-ganj and all the patrons are local, then play it safe or you could ruin your holiday. Also, never travel to India without comprehensive travel insurance, you don’t want to find yourself really ill with no-one to call.
Regarding getting Delhi-belly as a first time traveler to India, here’s the consensus. Most people do in fact get sick in their first week, if they’re eating at even reputable local restaurants, more certainly if they’re eating from roadside stalls or drinking anything with milk or yogurt where the local electricity supply is unstable (that’s everywhere, by the way). But with the dozens of repeat travelers I know personally, none of them have ever been sick on a subsequent visit, except maybe for a cold here and there.
It’s like your body just needs it’s Indian baptism, then you’re fine. It’s baptism by both fire and water, you could say. But it’s well worth it, as once India gets under your skin, not to mention through your digestive system, you’ll never be the same.
And another thing about bananas-they can be deadly in more ways than one. Don’t eat them in front of hungry urban monkeys or you may have a nasty fight on your hands-did I mention travel insurance?…