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Monsoon Diary: A Memoir With Recipes (2004)

Monsoon Diary: A Memoir with Recipes (2004)
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Rating
3.67 of 5 Votes: 2
ISBN
0812971078 (ISBN13: 9780812971071)
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English
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publisher
random house trade
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Monsoon Diary: A Memoir With Recipes ...
Monsoon Diary: A Memoir With Recipes (2004)

About book: A really personal look at growing up in India and what it means to be an outsider living and studying in the United Sates, this book gives its readers a comic but movingly accurate version of things we can all relate to and choices we all have to make. Narayan gives us mouth-watering glimpses of Indian food (and how to make it) as she tells her tale, imprinted so deeply with the spices, smells, textures, and tastes of Indian cooking. With each recipe, Narayan provides a myth that relates to and/or explains the dishes. She also explains how each spice, each topping, each method of cooking has a special use- some of them are to be used when pregnant, some are good for colds, each have their own occasion, and some are even used not only in cooking, but as face cream (and a cure for all ills)- all according to her very ambitious and often overpowering mother. In her memoir, Shoba wishes to study abroad, to the objection of her large family. They make a deal with her that, if she is able to prepare a complete satisfactory Indian meal for the entire family, her wish will be granted. She cooks the meal and off she goes. Within the story she weaves about herself, Narayan contemplates the good and the bad of both the Indian society she has lived in and the American one she moves to. This is a truly entertaining and worthwhile book to read.

It was a scrumptious feast. I gobbled up the book from cover to cover. It deals with the South Indian food culture of 70's and 80's. I could connect with most of the facts mentioned in the book as the author describes her South Indian Tamil Brahmin heritage well. The book starts with early childhood memories when she was in the care of her maternal grandparents in Coimbatore, then it moves on to her parents' place in Madras, with a few forays into her father's ancenstral house in Kerala. Later on she goes on as a scholarship art student to the US, gets married and the book ends where she settles as a young bride in the U.S. All these recollections are intensified by recipes and food memories. This is a book well worth being read by Indian foodies, especially South Indians. I am not sure whether others will be able to relate to the book as much as we do.One grouse with this book is that most traditional South Indian recipes are Americanized, maybe this is to keep up with the diverse nature of the readers.I am definitely planning to reread this in future.
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Reviews
marissa
There's no Big Message here, and I doubt I would ever attempt any of the recipes, but Narayan's book is nonetheless a tempting, fond, and appreciative documentation of her familial and culinary ups-and-downs. Her sense-memory recollections of rice and ghee, of which temples offered the best versions of which delicacies, of the mechanics of eating off banana leaves at weddings are irresistible. Although the book does seem more appealing when it's dealing with her life in India, I have the feeling that has more to do with my familiarity with life in North America making her college experiences less interesting. The food remains just as scrumptious.
Melissa
This is not the type of book I would normally pick up to read. However, I noticed a friend liked it and thought I'd try something different. I'm glad I did. I identify with the author in that many of my own memories are tied to food. The book made me want to try to make some of my grandma's recipes that we rely on her to make for holidays. That being said, I don't have great inspiration to try the recipes in the book but that's OK. The book wasn't so much about the recipes as how the food can bridge cultures and serves to illuminate aspects of Indian culture.
Smitha
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.
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