Mumbai: Sachin Tendulkar took a trip down memory lane and for a change, it was not cricket that he talked about.
The veteran batsman, instead, spoke of his gastronomic experiences while travelling with the team all over the country and the world in his over two-decade career.
And the interesting trivia included how he skipped lunch and polished off a large bowl of ice-cream before facing the pace attack from Pakistani trio of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar at the high voltage match between arch-rivals India and Pakistan in 2003 World Cup.
India had won the match by six wickets and Tendulkar, who had some cramps while batting, was adjudged man of the match for the game after his knock of 98 runs from 75 balls.
Revealing his fascination for good food, the veteran batsman shared his 'delicious' tour memories at a cook book launch event here last night.
"At lunch time I only had ice-cream. I didn't have anything else. I had my headphones on, and didn't want to listen to anyone. I knew what was wanted at that particular moment. All I did was grab a huge bowl of ice-cream and finished it. I had told when the umpires walk out please let me know. The umpires walked out and I removed my headphones and walked out to bat. In the meanwhile the ice-cream was delicious," he said.
He said the team had street food in South Africa to celebrate the victory.
"Immediately after the match, we decided wherever we go this evening, we have to be together. It was a big day and we needed to celebrate together. So we went and had street food together. We enjoyed ourselves. That match was one of the most important games of that tournament.
"People had told me a year before the match, that come what may, you need to win this match. So after that, the whole team decided wherever we go, whatever we do we will be together. This was one of those big nights where every little thing we remember and we cherish those moments because it doesn't happen again," he said.
The senior cricketer further said he gorged on Pakistani food and had piled on a few kilos on his debut tour there.
"The first tour of Pakistan was a memorable one. I used to have a heavy breakfast which was kheema paratha and then have a glass of lassi and then think of dinner. After practice sessions there was no lunch because it was heavy but also at the same time delicious.I wouldn't think of having lunch or snack in the afternoon.I was only 16 and I was growing," Tendulkar recalled.
"It was a phenomenal experience, because when I got back to Mumbai and got on the weighing scale I couldn't believe myself. But whenever we have been to Pakistan, the food has been delicious. It is tasty and I have to be careful for putting on weight," he said.
The leading run scorer in world cricket added that cooking relaxes him and he had once cooked for the entire team, something none of his teammates have done so far.
"In 1997 or 1998, we were in Delhi. The entire team was at Ajay Jadeja's place for dinner and I had gone there half an hour earlier to prepare baingan bharta for the whole team," he said.
A self-proclaimed foodie, Tendulkar said he cooks for his family on special occasions and his wife enjoys the fish curry he makes.
"I have cooked for her (wife Anjali). I still do sometimes. Not on a regular basis but sometimes I do cook breakfast for Sara (daughter), Arjun (son) and Anjali. Earlier it was on a regular basis but now only on special occasions.
"I cook various things like fish curry and prawn masala, which I obviously learnt from my mother. She taught me couple of things ages ago and I experimented with it and made Anjali try, which wasn't too bad. She says it is the best fish curry she has had in her life," he said.
The veteran batsman said in his pre-teen years, he only had Maharashtrian food and once he started travelling, he learnt to try new cuisines.
"I travelled to England and that was the first time I heard that cold chicken was also meant to be eaten. I got used to that. As the time went by I learnt to deal with all these things and develop a taste for that," Tendulkar said.
"I think cricket was so important and so exciting that we used to forget about food. The evening was a little difficult. Those days you could afford to eat burgers but not at this stage."
"With traveling and more exposure, I was open to trying out new things. In the 25 years of traveling I have tasted all kinds of cuisine and have enjoyed it. I appreciate good food and good taste. Sometimes it is good to eat whatever you like and not think about the diet," he said adding that London is one of his favourite places in terms of variety of cuisines available.
The 39-year-old said he is a big fan of Japanese cuisine and had taken Suresh Raina once with him to a restaurant though unsure about the end result.
"I remember three years ago, I took Suresh Raina to a Japanese restaurant, which wasn't too bad. I don't know whether he was pretending because I was so excited. I said let me introduce you to Japanese food. He liked it.
"I am not sure if he tried Japanese food after that or not. At least at that stage he enjoyed sashimi and sushi. I also ordered for burnt garlic fried rice, which wasn't difficult for him," he said.
On his cooking memories, he said, "in 2000, we went to Zimbabwe and we went to one of these game reserves. We were out in the jungle and we cooked our food. We had a beautifully lit barbecue and we ate good barbecue chicken and sausages.
That experience of being in jungle and cooking your own food and mingling around with teammates was an experience. Those early bondings went far. That whole experience was truly a memorable one."
His Mumbai teammates Zaheer Khan and Ajit Agarkar normally accompany him to new restaurants or try new cuisine, Tendulkar said.
"Along with me, Zaheer Khan and Ajit Agarkar, we try new restaurants and different cuisines. But most of the guys prefer either Italian or Thai or at the most Chinese. But we three and maybe Yuvraj Singh try different things," he said.
He added that he enjoys 'varan bhaat' (Maharashtrian dal chawal) when he comes from long overseas tours.
"I like varan bhaat, when I am back from long tours. It is not something you get outside India. Varan bhaat with little bit of ghee and lemon squeezed on top of it," he said.
On his worst food experience, he quipped, "I have tried snails, which was little bit difficult to digest. It was with garlic sauce and I forced my wife to try. It wasn't too good. I wouldn't try it again."
Asked if he has tried to become a vegetarian, Tendulkar said, "there have been patches where I have tried to be vegetarian, to see how one feels. It is difficult for me because I have been brought up with non vegetarian food. It is not I need to have non-veg every meal. I don't mind good quality vegetarian meal, because it is healthy and keeps you light."
He further said he is avoiding oily food in a bid to prepare for the upcoming home series against England.
"I am avoiding fatty stuff, which you need to know when not to eat. This is the time when I have to follow a particular diet, which is going to help me prepare for upcoming series as well. It is not something which happens overnight.
"You need to follow a routine and I try and do that. After being around for a long time, I know when I can afford to eat and when I should stay away from fatty stuff," he said. Tendulkar gave an example of how he prepares himself before a match and said, "it depends on conditions that we play in. During World Cup (2011), we played in Ahmedabad against Australia.
"It was really really hot. So for two three days I went on vegetarian diet with bland food like curd rice, just to not have any spice in my system, which was there from earlier matches, just to flush it out. And had lots of coconut water. You just go by gut feel. I felt that in those conditions, the spicy food wouldn’t suit.
On what kind of diet plan he will have in the Test series against England, as the conditions would be different from the kind he faced in 2011 March, the right-hand batsman said, "I will go there and assess, and let’s see what the conditions are. It is about what I feel."
Asked if he is superstitious about food before a match, he said, "now you have put one more thing in my mind. I am not that bad."