Pleasures and Profundity of Food
Sucharita Sengupta
THE WRITER’S FEAST: FOOD AND THE CULTURES OF REPRESENTATION by Supriya Chaudhuri Orient Blackswan, 2012, 238 pp., 525
June 2012, volume 36, No 6

As summer looms upon us, a Gujarati friend living in Calcutta becomes more and more disgruntled. Her plaint is the lack of kesri ker no ras (aam ras or mango pulp) in her city. Upon a suggestion that she purchase mangoes and make it at home, came a most painful shriek: you don’t understand! In Gujarat right now, everyone is talking mango, buying mango, selling mango, cooking mango. It’s the ambience! In another part of the country a while ago, students hold a Beef Festival on a university campus to assert their right to make dietary choices, and intertwined with that, assert their distinctive identities. There is a lot of food for thought here, and The Writer’s Feast, edited by Supriya Chaudhuri and Rimi B. Chatterjee, open up the reader to both the pleasures and profundity of food (the two not being mutually exclusive). Food is so central to our existence and society that when one picks up the book, the first thought is: why was a book like this not written any earlier? The Writer’s Feast negotiates the culinary terrain through a variety of texts and an equally rich set of perspectives. Al-though the book is organized into four segments, one each dealing with culture, gender, diaspora and the lack/ limits of food, the ideas discussed in one part often segue into and enrich other parts, creating a delightfully unbounded reading experience.

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