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Here are the top five books which make for a memorable feast:
Chocolat by Joanne Harris
Now a popularly acclaimed movie starring Jonny Depp, Chocolat is a story set in a small French town where chocolate becomes the moral standpoint between the appetite for pleasure and frugality.
A Tasting: ”this has a throaty richness like the perfumed beans from the coffee stall at the market, a redolence of Amaretto and tiramisu, a smoky, burned flavour that enters my mouth somehow and makes it water. There is a silver jug of the stuff on the counter, from which a vapour rises. I recall that I have not breakfasted this morning.”
The Particular Sadness of a Lemon cake by Aimee Bender
Take a bite of the roti your mum made this morning. Can you taste her thoughts, roll on your tongue bits of her early morning drowsiness and patient fondness? Rose Edelstein can. This book narrates the story of a nine year old girl with a penchant for deciphering a person through their cooking.
A Tasting: “I could absolutely taste the chocolate, but in drifts and traces, in an unfurling, or an opening, it seemed that my mouth was also filling with the taste of smallness, the sensation of shrinking, of upset, tasting a distance I somehow knew was connected to my mother..”
The Dinner by Herman Koch
For these two couples in Amsterdam, dining in a swanky restaurant, pleasant dinner conversation is replaced by a discussion around a gruesome act their boys perpetrated. They chillingly and quite calmly through the courses of the meal, discuss their childrens’ misdeeds. This book is reminiscent of blood sausage - immensely enjoyed once you have acquired the taste for it, but made up of something you’d rather remain ignorant to.
A Tasting: “This particular restaurant is one where you have to call three months in advance—or six, or eight, don’t ask me. Personally, I’d never want to know three months in advance where I’m going to eat on any given evening, but apparently some people don’t mind.”
The F word by Mita Kapur
This one is for cooks across the world - who have to deal with demands, allergies, tantrums and budget, all in one meal! Mita Kapur, a freelance journalist, writes about juggling her work, her family and her culinary curiosity which led to happy stomachs and happier journeys. Informative conversations turn into recipes and bites of family drama are scattered throughout the book.
A Tasting: “The nights we have matter paneer, khili gobi, mixed raita for dinner, I tear apart a packet of nachos, crumble some feta cheese, pop caramelized onions on top, and present it as a snappy starter – just to prepare a hungry family for the emotional upheaval of a vegetarian meal.”
Korma, Kheer and Kismet – Five Seasons in Old Delhi
Be warned, this book will instil within you, major hunger pangs. You will, through the course of this book, travel with Pamela Timms, to the nooks and crannies of old Delhi lanes, You will taste and smell fresh masala lemon soda being dispensed to thirsty travellers, Natraaj Dahi Bhalle wala’s tangy chaat and learn about the evolution of Delhi’s culinary scene.
A Tasting -Daulat ki chaat (meaning ‘snack of wealth) is probably Old Delhi’s most surprising street food. Anyone expecting the punchy, spicy flavours usually suggested by the word ‘chaat’ will be surprised. It resembles uncooked meringue and the taste is shocking in its subtlety, more molecular gastronomy than raunchy street food…”