Eating India and Monsoon Diary – Book Reviews

I chanced upon 2 books by Indian authors on food in India. What better combination, a book on food, especially for a foodie and avid reader like me.

Eating India : An Odyssey into the Food and Culture of the Land of Spices.

by Chitrita Banerji

The book had me hooked from the very beginning when the author starts to describe a Bengali wedding – something that was so much a part of my childhood, where we had Bengalis as neighbours, friends, family friends, dad’s colleagues.  The book is a fantastic journey into the cuisines of various parts of India, exploring the possible origins of dishes, the foreign influences that made what we eat today, so part of Indian cooking. So many ingredients that we take for granted today, was part of what we got from various parts of the world, like potatoes, onions, and even the Bengali Rossogolla, might have other origins, which the author tried really hard to track down in the book.

The author’s love and appreciation of food, irrespective of cuisine, comes through in her writing. Her descriptions so vivid, that she made some of the food, which I actually, don’t like, sound delicious. For me, it was a wonderful read and also made me want to try out the variety of cuisine that our wonderfully diverse country has.

Monsoon Diary : Reveries and Recipes from South India

by Shoba Narayan



I picked up this book on a whim. The cover looked good and so did the synopsis. I am happy to say that it did not disappoint.  The author takes us down the memory lane with her reminisces filled with food, along with the recipes. Starting from her initiation into eating adult food( Chor-unnal in Malayalam) to the time that she is married. Each memory associated with some sort of food. Be it the food that she shared with her school friends , her cousins or her roommates, while in college. The flavour  captured beautifully in her words. How food was so central in everything that she has done. Even the permission to go abroad for higher studies was based on the fact that she was able to churn out a wonderful traditional meal.  She talks about the time when she tried fusion food (international fusion at that) on her husband, much to his distress, all he wanted was an authentic South Indian meal.  It was a wonderful read, though I am too lazy to try out recipes, reading was soul satisfying enough for me.

The Italian Wedding – Book Review

As I had promised, my next book review is of The Italian Wedding.  I am refraining from posting reviews of everything I read to avoid shoes and chappals being thrown at me 🙂

There is something about books in Italian settings. I love them as much as like Indian books. Most of these also have the most mouth-watering descriptions of food, which makes it an even better experience. I know, it is probably stereotyped, but that certainly does not stop me from lapping it all up.

The Italian Wedding

by Nicky Pellegrino

Pieta Martinelli is a bridal designer working for a famous Bridal Designer. She is very busy at work and at home, planning her younger sister’s wedding dress.  Living with her Italian dad, Beppi Martinelli,  English mother Catherine and younger sister Addolorata, who is a chef in her dad’s restaurant Little Italy, in London.

Her family has a long running feud with another Italian family in the same locality. She and her sister have always been consumed with curiosity about the feud, because they have never been told anything about it.  As events unfold, her mother ends up relating the story of how she and her father met and about the feud. As she hears the story, she also starts to understand her mother, who was always in the background, who both sisters more or less ignored.

It was an enchanting read. Beautifully incorporating interesting recipes as well as interesting comments to the recipe while moving the story forward really well.

This is the first book of hers that I have read and I am certainly going to pick up more of hers. I just loved the way she writes.

I am not going to be doing any more book reviews for a while. The books I read recently have not been worth reviewing. Have been going through a lot of inane chick-lits. Now re-reading London by Edward Rutherfurd, an epic of a book, which I had loved reading. I had mentioned about this book here as well.

Late night reading and Book reviews

I have been reading loads these days. There are days when I sat up reading until late at nights and feeling sick and woozy in the mornings. I am just not a night person, but with a good book in my hand, I can’t not finish it before going to sleep.

The other day, I read under a duvet with a flashlight 🙂 Reminded me of my childhood. Also reminded me to get one of those book light which can be clipped on to the book while reading – that would have been far more comfortable to read with! Growing up, I used to read so much that my parents used to worry that I get marks in school simply because the teachers liked me. So they used to try and regulate the amount I read, and I used to find ways of reading all the same.

As I said here, I have been picking up books rather randomly from the library. I never seem to get the latest bestsellers, so I just go by my instincts and seem to end up with great books(thankfully!).

I finally managed to lay my hands on Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s Arranged Marriage. This had been on my wish list for ages but had been evading me. Well, all I can say is that it was totally worth the wait.

The collection of short stories depicting women in various situations brought about by their circumstances. Be it an abused woman’s story narrated by her little daughter, or the new bride who finds herself a widow in America, or a happily married woman who finds one day that her husband wanted to leave the marriage and grab at a chance of real happiness. Each of the stories brought out the feelings of the protagonists, ending in despair, triumph or just accepting what life throws at them. Every story was a wonderful read and I was disappointed when I came to the end of the book. To say that I loved it, would be an understatement. Waiting to get my hands on her other books.

 

Amongst the other books I read, Joanna Trollope’s books stood out. I had read her Brothers and Sisters earlier and quite liked it. Last week I picked up two of her books. Marrying the Mistress and The Rector’s Wife. Both were amazing reads. In Marrying the Mistress, she picked up a really sensitive topic of a much married older man taking the decision to walk out of his marriage to marry his mistress who was young enough to be his daughter. How the various relationships in both their lives were affected and how many individuals one decision of this sort could affect and how each of those people behaved was beautifully crafted. And not for a minute did anything seem tacky.

The Rector’s Wife is about a village priest and his wife who are trying their best to live within the set expectations. So far, Anna, the rector’s wife had performed her role in every way possible, but her daughter being bullied in the local state school and her son’s aspirations to travel propels her to get a job in a local supermarket to earn some money.  This causes a lot of raised eyebrows in the parish. Trapped in the expectations set by her role as the rector’s Wife and the need to be independent and do something that she wants to do, she gets pulled in all directions and widens the gap between her and her husband.. Again, I love the way, Trollope has woven the various relationships, including the emotions of her teenage son and her supportive mother and mother-in-law.  I could not put the book down until I finished it off in one session.

I am now reading Trollope’s Next of Kin which is right now, just as gripping.