[A dinner invitation from him]

[Excerpt from Letter VI, from Mangalor, December 9, 1623:]

[161] Then he ask'd me, whether I could eat in their Houses, or of their meats [=foods]; for he desir'd to give me something to eat: I answer'd that I could, and that the purity of our Religion consisted not in the eating or touching of things, but in doing good works. He earnestly desir'd me, that I would stay a while till some meat were prepar'd for me; for by all means he would have me eat something in his House, and himself see me eating. I told him, that if his intention were only to give me meat, the time was already past, nor was I dispos'd to eat; but if it were to see me eat, I could not eat in that place after the fashion of my Country, not having there the preparations necessary thereunto, so that his Highness should not see what, perhaps, he desir'd; and therefore I beseech'd him to excuse me: Nevertheless he was so urgent for it that, not to appear discourteous, I consented to obey him. And, till the meat came, the King commanded some of his Servants to conduct me to sit down by them in the Porch, where I might sit after our manner, but not in the King's sight.

Hereupon I withdrew with some of his Men to entertain me, and in the mean time the King remain'd talking with the rest of them concerning me, commending me much for several things, but above all, for a good presence, for speaking truly and discreetly, like a Gentleman, and for my civil deportment....

[163] The meat was not long in preparing, and being now in order, the King call'd for me again to enter into the room where it stood ready; and one of the Brachmans who spoke Portugal [=Portuguese], and was wont to accompany me, ask'd me, Whether it would not be more convenient for me to ungird my Sword, and put off my Cassock [=coat]? I answer'd, that my Cassock gave me no trouble, nor was there occasion to lay it off; but my Sword might be laid aside, and therewith ungirding it, I gave it to him to hold: which I did, the rather because all Princes being commonly suspicious, I imagin'd the King would not like my entering in with Arms; and he that goes into another's House, to visit him and do him honour, is not to disgust, but to comply with, him in all points.

So I enter'd without a Sword, but yet with shoes and stockings on, though with them it be unusual; for none should enter into that place but bare-foot, and the King himself is so there, according to their custom: Nor did I scruple [=fear] their taxing me of uncleanliness, as undoubtedly they would have done in Turkie and Persia, if I had enter'd into their rooms with shoes or slippers on, because [164] there all the rooms are cover'd with Carpets, but there was not any in these of the King, only the pavement was gloss'd with Cow-dung. Wherefore as to have put off my shoes (besides that they are not so easily slip'd off as Pantofles [=slippers], nor does it shew well) would have been an exorbitant and unnecessary humility; for to enter with them on, was to me convenient and decorous, without any liableness to be accus'd of uncleanliness, being [=since] the floor was not cover'd; if it had been so with Carpets or the like, as 'tis usual in Turkie and Persia, then (to avoid seeming slovenly by soiling the place with my dirty shoes, and to my self by sitting upon them, which indeed is not handsome) I should have caus'd my shoes to be pull'd off; for which purpose, I had accordingly caus'd a pair of slippers of our fashion to be brought along with me, in case there should have been need of them; our kind of shoes being not so easy to be put off by shaking the foot alone without the help of the hand, as those which for this end are us'd by all the Eastern people.

Entering in this manner, and saluting the King as I pass'd, I went to sit down at the upper end of the Chamber (as 'tis above describ'd), where they had prepar'd a little square board of the bigness of an ordinary stool, which might serve for a single person, but rais'd no more than four fingers above the ground; upon this I sat down, crossing my Legs, one over the other; and that little elevation help'd me to keep them out from under me, with such decency as I desir'd.

Right before the seat upon the bare floor (the Indians not using any Tables), they had spread instead of a dish (as their custom as, especially to us Christians, with whom they will not defile their own vessels; it not being lawful for them ever to eat again in those wherein we have eaten), a great Leaf of that Tree, which the Arabians and Persians call Mouz; the Portugals in India, Fichi d'India, Indian Fig-trees; and upon the said leaf they had lay'd a good quantity of Rice boiled after their manner, only with water and salt; but for sauce to it, there stood on one side a little vessel made of Palm-leaves, full of very good butter melted. There lay also upon another Leaf one of those Indian Figs, clean and pared; and hard by it a quantity of a certain red herb, commonly eaten in India, and called by the Portugals Bredo (which yet is the general appellation of all sorts of herbs). In another place lay several fruits us'd by them, and, amongst the rest, seven of the Bambu, or great Indian Cane; all of them preserv'd in no bad manner, which they call Acciao [=achar]; besides one sort pickled with Vinegar, as our Olives are. Bread there was none, because they use none, but the Rice is instead of it; which was no great defect to me, because I am now accustom'd to want [=lack] it, and eat very little.

The King very earnestly pray'd me to eat, excusing himself often that he gave me so small an entertainment on the sudden; for if he had known my coming before-hand, he would have prepared many Caril [=*curry*], and divers other more pleasing meats. Caril is a name which in India they give to certain Broths, made [165] with Butter [=*ghee*], the Pulp of Indian Nuts [=*coconuts*] (instead of which, in our Countries, almond milk may be us'd, being equally good, and of the same virtue), and all sorts of Spices, particularly *Cardamoms* and *Ginger* (which we use but little), besides herbs, fruits, and a thousand other condiments. The Christians who eat every thing, add Flesh or Fish of all sorts, sometimes Eggs, which, without doubt, make it more savory, especially, Hens or Chickens cut in small pieces: With all which things, is made a kind of Broth, like our Guazzetti, or Pottages, and may be made many several ways; this Broth with all the abovesaid ingredients, is afterwards poured in good quantity upon the boiled Rice, whereby is made a well-tasted mixture, of much substance and light digestion, as also of very little pains [to make]; for it is presently [=quickly] boiled, and serves both for meat and bread together.

I found it very good for me, and used it often, as also the Pilao [=*pulao*]else-where spoken of, and made of Rice boiled with butter and flesh fried therein, besides a thousand other preparations of several sorts which are so common to every body in Asia; and I account it one of the best and wholesomest meats that can be eaten in the world, without so many Artificial Inventions as our gutlings [=gourmets?] of Europe (withall, procuring to themselves a thousand infirmities of Gouts, Catarrhs, and other Maladies, little known to the Orientals) daily devise to the publick damage.

But to return to my Relation, the King told me, he would have given me a better entertainment, but yet desired me to receive this small extemporary one, and eat without any respect of shyness of those that were present; for thereby he should understand that I liked it. I answer'd, that the Favour and Courtesy which his Highness shew'd me, was sufficient; But as for eating, the time being now past, I did it only to obey him; and so, to comply with him, although I had little will to eat, I tasted lightly here and there of those fruits and herbs, where-with my Hand was but little soiled, which upon occasion I wiped with my handkerchief, being [=since] they use no other Table-linen, nor had laid any for me.

The King seeing that I touched not the rice, spoke to me several times to eat of it, and to pour upon it some of that butter which stood by it prepared. I did not, because I would not grease my self, there being no spoon; for the Indians eat every thing with the Hand alone, and so do the Portugals; I know not, whether as having learnt so to do in India of the Indians; or, whether it be their own natural custom; but they too, for the most part, eat with the Hand alone, using no spoon, and that very ill-favouredly; for with the same Hand, if need be, they mingle together the Rice, the Butter, the Caril, and all other things how greasy soever, daubing themselves up to the wrist, or rather washing their Hands in their meat before they eat it; (a fashion indeed sufficiently coarse for people of Europe): and though at their Tables, which are handsome enough, there want not knives, spoons, and silver forks, and some few sometimes make use [166] thereof; yet the universal custom is such, that few use them, even when they lie before them.

The truth is, they wash their Hands many times during one dinner, to wit, as often as they grease them, but they wipe them not first; for neither do they make use of napkins, whether they have any before them (as for the most part they have) or not; but besides the trouble of washing so often, in my judgment, there is but little neatness in washing their anointed Hand after that manner; and, I know not whether the washing cleanses or defiles more. I being inur'd to the neatness of Italy, could not consent to slovenliness: and, let them cover this barbarous custom with what pretence they please, either of military manners, or what else they think fit; 'tis little trouble for a civil Man to carry, even in the War and Travels, amongst other necessary things, a spoon, knife, and fork, where-with to eat handsomely: The Turks themselves, as barbarous as they are, yet are so much observers of this, that amongst them there is not the meanest Soldier, but who, if he hath not other better convenience, at least carries his spoon tied to the belt of his sword.

In a word, the King frequently urg'd me to eat of the Rice, and I as often deny'd [=declined] with several excuses; at last he was so importunate, that I was fain to tell him, I could not eat that meat in that manner, because I had not my Instruments. The King told me, I might eat after my own way, and take what Instruments I would, which should be fetch'd from my House. I reply'd divers [=a number of] times, that there was no need, and that my tasting of it was enough to testify my Obedience: However, by all means he would have what was necessary fetch'd from my House. So I sent my Brachman and my Christian Servant with my key, and they, the King so enjoining, went; and return'd in a moment, for my House was directly over against the Palace.

They brought me a spoon, a silver-fork, and a clean and fine napkin, very handsomely folded in small plaits; this I spread upon my knees which it cover'd down to my feet, and so I began to eat Rice, pouring the butter upon it with a spoon; and the other things with the fork, after a very cleanly manner, without greasing my self, or touching any thing with my Hands; as 'tis my custom. The King and all the rest admir'd these exquisite, and to them unusual, modes; crying out with wonder Deuru, Deuru, that I was a Deuru, that is, a great Man, a God, as they speak.

I told the King, that to eating according to my custom, there needed much preparation of a table, linen, plates, dishes, cups, and other things; but I was now travelling through strange Countries, and treated my self, alla Soldatesca, after the Soldier's fashion, leading the life of a Gioghi [=*Jogi*], and consequently, had not with me such things as were necessary. The King answer'd, that it suffic'd him to see this much, since thereby he easily imagin'd how all my other things would be; and that, in brief, he had never seen any European like me; and that it was a great [167] contentment to him to see me.

He desir'd me several times to eat more, perceiving that I rather tasted of things to please him, than to satiate my self. He caus'd divers other Fruits pickled with vinegar and salt to be brought me, by a Woman who came from the inner rooms through the little Court; as also for my drink (in a cup made likewise of Palm-leaves), a kind of warm Milk, to which they are accustom'd, and which seem'd to me very good.

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