Kitchen chronicles

The Week, January 10, 2016

Vijaya Pushkarna

The cooks have become chefs, and the chefs, master chefs. When they throw in some blogs, books, articles and TV shows on what they cook, serve, eat and love, food becomes much more than what fills the tummy. From fond family memories and history, to spice trade and tricks of the trade, to gardens, orchards and all things green, food lovers tell these stories through food.

One such story comes from Wendell Rodricks, who pays tribute to his late aunt Tia Rosa, whose husband “was the kitchen and the apron her bridal dress”. He recalls her contribution towards making him the sensitive designer by infusing elements in the kitchen, as they whipped up unusual recipes that she had learnt from people she loved.

Few could have missed Rihanna’s Met Gala gown, which looked inspired from the humble omelette! That is how important food is today, outside of the tummy.

It is impossible to be eloquent about porridge, says Janice Pariat. Writing is for Janice what porridge was for her grandmother—a ritual, a prayer, a life giver, life preserver, habit.

Chillies and Porridge: Writing Food, edited by Mita Kapur, has some of her favourite writers—23 of them including journalist Bachi Karkaria and history teacher turned independent researcher Saleem Kidwai—writing with some, if not detailed, mention of food. It is not about recipes, though if one digs deep, one may find a few, complete with the secret ingredients. Mita’s earlier book, seductively titled The F-Word, had recipes and stories around them. It is the feedback that inspired her to come out with this one.

One doesn’t have to be a wannabe chef or food blogger to read this book; even those who loathe the kitchen counter and the clanking of pots and pans will like it.


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