Delhi belly: a new hypothesis

I’ve got a new theory about “Delhi belly”. The usual explanation, other than food poisoning, unfamiliar germs in the water or picked up from surroundings, etc, is that the Western bowel isn’t used to the spicy food of India. It can cope with the occasional hot curry we’re used to at home, but when you start having spice with every meal, every day, it’s overwhelmed.

My new hypothesis provides an alternative to that argument. It’s not the amount of spicy food you’re eating that upsets the gut, it’s all the damned curd. Curd is one of the staples of the Indian diet and is served with every meal, without exception. India doesn’t have yoghurt, as we’d recognise it; they just have curd. Curd with rice, curd with bread, curd with parathas for breakfast, curd with roti for lunch. Curd with fruit for a hotel’s “continental” breakfast. Curd to drink, in the form of lassi. Sure, the Western bowel isn’t used to that much chili and spice, but it’s not used to that much soured dairy, either.

Plus, people are always assuming that you won’t be able to cope with spicy Indian food, so they a) tone down the level of spiciness for you, and b) force you to eat more curd to counter it. Surely it’s more likely that your gut’s overwhelmed by the curd, not the spice?

Plus, I’ve had at least two dreams in the past few days in which I was eating cereal and milk, and the milk was off. Maybe it’s my stomach trying to tell me something?

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