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

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by Chitrita Banerji
     
 

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Though it's primarily Punjabi food that's become known as Indian food in the United States, India is as much an immigrant nation as America, and it has the vast range of cuisines to prove it. In Eating India, award-winning food writer and Bengali food expert Chitrita Banerji takes readers on a marvelous odyssey through a national cuisine formed by

Overview

Though it's primarily Punjabi food that's become known as Indian food in the United States, India is as much an immigrant nation as America, and it has the vast range of cuisines to prove it. In Eating India, award-winning food writer and Bengali food expert Chitrita Banerji takes readers on a marvelous odyssey through a national cuisine formed by generations of arrivals, assimilations, and conquests. With each wave of newcomers-ancient Aryan tribes, Persians, Middle Eastern Jews, Mongols, Arabs, Europeans-have come new innovations in cooking, and new ways to apply India's rich native spices, poppy seeds, saffron, and mustard to the vegetables, milks, grains, legumes, and fishes that are staples of the Indian kitchen. In this book, Calcutta native and longtime U.S. resident Banerji describes, in lush and mouthwatering prose, her travels through a land blessed with marvelous culinary variety and particularity.

REVIEWS:

"Skillfully moving backward and forward in time, Banerji, a culinary historian based in the U.S. whose previous books have explored the cookery of her native Bengal (Life and Food in Bengal), regards India with the intimacy of a native, the curiosity of an outsider and the broad vantage of an expatriate. In the course of her culinary tours across the subcontinent, she poses compelling questions about the nature of authenticity in a time of great flux, the mutability of tradition and the place of food in secular life and religious culture. For answers, she looks not only to the past but to the present as it unfolds in roadside shacks, sweet shops or a temple canteen, describing how outside influences such as colonialism and immigration have shaped India's regional cuisines. Early in this engaging work, Banerji recounts how whenever she invites Americans to her home for an elaborate meal, rather than sampling each dish in sequence-the better to appreciate its subtle flavors-her guests heap together meat, rice and

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Award-winning food writer Banerji examines in marvelous detail the cultural and historical influences that have shaped regional cuisine in ancient and modern India...Readers will savor the author's mouthwatering prose...After reading this engaging work, one will appreciate the complexities and subtleties of Indian cuisine.” —Library Journal

“This book is a fascinating tour through the culinary and cultural landscape of India, with mouthwatering descriptions of local delicacies and brief historical side-tours that provide context and background for the reader.” —Jewish Advocate, 6/22/07

“Chitrita Banerji is one of those rare writers who can tease the meaning out of ordinary foods without ever seeming trivial, pretentious or self-indulgent...Banerji peels back the husk of triviality to reveal the history, culture, and emotional ballast that can reside in even the most everyday dish...Even if you only have a passing interest in India, this book is worth a read.” —Gourmet's Choptalk

“Highly recommend this newly-published book for literate and engaging writing on travel in India and Indian food in various parts of the country. Must-read for Indian food fans” —Chowhound.com

“[Banerji is] a wonderful food writer. Neither a travelogue nor a recipe book, this is a personal jouney to more than a dozen regions in India... This is food writing at its best, historically and culinarily informative... and filled with the interestingly personal.... The stuff of interesting dining, thinking, and reading.” —Gastronomica

Library Journal

Award-winning food writer Banerji examines in marvelous detail the cultural and historical influences that have shaped regional cuisine in ancient and modern India. As she travels through India, Banerji, a Calcutta native who makes her home in the United States, poses compelling questions about the nature of authenticity in Indian cuisine for a land in constant flux from generations of colonialism and immigration and other external factors. Moving backward and forward in time, without a specific itinerary, Banerji takes readers on an exciting journey visiting cities, roadside shacks, a family's wedding, and other places, while seeking to understand and come to terms with an ever-changing nation. Learning about the contributions made by Persians, Jews, Mongols, Portuguese, and other immigrants to the national cuisine is fascinating. Readers will savor the author's mouthwatering prose as she recollects childhood memories of Bengali traditions and rituals centered on food. After reading this engaging work, one will appreciate the complexities and subtleties of Indian cuisine. Recommended for public and academic libraries.
—Christine Holmes

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781596910188
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
07/28/2007
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.97(w) x 8.34(h) x 1.05(d)

Meet the Author

Chitrita Banerji grew up in Calcutta and came to the United States as a graduate student; she received her master's degree in English from Harvard University. She has since become an internationally recognized writer on Bengali food, and is the author of Life and Food in Bengal, Bengali Cooking: Seasons and Festivals, and Feeding the Gods: Memories of Women, Food, and Ritual in Bengal. A two-time winner of Sophie Coe awards in Food and History, she has written about food for Gourmet, Gastronomica, Granta, the Boston Globe, and the American Prospect. She lives in Cambridge, Mass.

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Eating India: An Odyssey Into the Food and Culture of the Land of Spices 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really like the book but did not care for the mispelled words that were hard to decifer
Guest More than 1 year ago
Chitrita Banerji makes it clear she is embarrassed with her Hindu ancestry. Yet, settled in the USA, she has no qualms living off it by writing 'exotic' and 'feel-good' accounts of her ancestral land in a breathless, romantic style clearly aimed at the English-speaking West. If she stuck to food, fine, but the excursions she makes into religion and religious history are unnecessary, ignorant and biased. Some examples: 1' More than one reference to the Aryans migrating into India, though 'like the earlier, now discredited, Aryan Invasion Theory'there is absolutely no genetic or historical evidence for such a people in the subcontinent 2'claims four 'castes' for Hinduism - is ignorant of the difference between class 'varna' and caste 'jati'. 3' claims centuries of peaceful coexistence between Islam and Hinduism, ignoring the steady and and horrendous 1000-year jihad against non-Muslims documented from Islamic sources by SR Goel's 'Hindu Temples' What Happened to Them', but making it a point to mention any retaliation as 'Hindu' fundamentalism 4' claims similar peaceful coexistence in Kerala, ignoring the gruesome Moplah massacre of thousands of Hindus, but making it a point to mention one assassination by a 'Hindu' 5' refers to the 'two evils' of caste and untouchability in Hinduism, sings a paean for Sikh 'equality', omitting to mention that Sikhism has its 'scheduled castes' 'and Muslims have their castes to, from the Sheikhs and Sayyids downwards' 6' critical of foreigners being prevented entry in certain temples as if this is typical of Hinduism, though they can and do enter hundreds of other temples. Ignores the fact that non-Muslims certainly cannot join Muslim congregations at worship. 7' glories in the Goa cathedral, without a word that it is built over temples razed by the Jesuits is ignorant of the horrors of the Goa Inquisition, but criticizes the destruction of the disused Babri structure 8' refers to Mughal cuisine as India's haute cuisine - obviously, since the Mughals had destroyed the indigenous patrons of fine cooking 9' glosses over the violence of the Khalistanis, but it is 'Hindu' mobs who hit back after Mrs Gandhi's assassination refers to the ruling party in Gujarat as Hindu fundamentalist, but forgets the anti-Sikh riots were actively enabled by the 'secular' Rajiv Gandhi and his Congress Party, and defended publicly by Gandhi in his Boat Club speech 9' repeats as history the Syrian Christian origin myth, though it's been thoroughly demolished by Ishwar Sharan's 'The Myth of St Thomas & the Mylapore Shiva Temple' 10' .....and so on.