What happens when top experts from various walks of life stir imaginations, mix emotions and pour their best memories into the frying pan called life? Believe that it no longer remains just a food experience but turns into an unforgettable memoir.
A compilation of writings from 23 top experts and edited by Mita Kapur, “Chillies and Porridge” explicitly evolves around what binds us all together: food.
Although Kapur, founder and CEO of India’s leading literary consultancy Sihayi, terms the book as a collection of stories, reminiscences and essays by some of her favourite writers, you get on board a food journey that takes you places and leaves you with a tinge that was amiss in your life so far.
The journey begins with poet-author Janice Pariat’s story “Porridge” in which she fondly speaks of her memories of breakfast that mostly involved porridge (oats) and how she used to have it with bread during her childhood days.
For fashion designer Wendell Rodricks, food reminds him of his cook Tia Rosa after whom the story is titled. He reminisces how Tia would arrive in his home at Goa with her cornucopia of goodies. The story is an ode to the cook after she died.
“Bongs, Bawas and Bigotry”, written by reputed journalist Bachi Karkaria, is all about a Parsi growing up in Kolkata which she describes as “khichdi au gratin, a combination that is difficult to manage or imagine.”
Karkaria brings in a comparison between the two communities the common factor that binds both Parsis and Bengalis together: fish that unites both the communities and its style of cooking that makes it all different.
“The Parsis and Bengalis are equally proud of their exalted place in the scheme of things. Both believe they are a class not only apart, but unquestionably, in a class of one,” she writes.
Orinthologist Bulbul Sharma’s food memoir “Chilli High” is all about chillies – red, green, Georgian, French, England, Lajpat Nagar (Delhi) to remote supermarkets in various cities in the world.
She writes how her roommate, during her Soviet Union student days, brought chillies from Georgia only for her, how she craved for green chillies sprinkled over chats in Lajpat Nagar and her present residence in a remote town in Ireland, with no chillies to be found unless she catches a bus and travels three hours to Dublin.