Friday, April 25, 2008

Review: Eating India

Just started reading Chitrita Banerji's Eating India. She travels to Calcutta, Goa, Karnataka and a few other places to sample local cuisine. Love the little snippets about the origins of certain ingredients (e.g. paneer). Cringed a tad though when she equated the Indian South with the American South for its unique historical and cultural underpinnings. So here's the deal-am south Indian and us south Indians, while grudgingly acknowledging the northerners' sense of sophistication, take great pride in our intellect, intelligence and general all-round smarts. Now, one can't say the same of the American south, atleast the popular (mis)-conceptions of it that is. Americans in general consider, American southerners, well, slow.

Does she mean to imply that she/other north Indians consider us darker skinned brethren , well, slow?

Also a tad intrigued by her choice of southern cuisine. I understand she possibly couldn't sample all regional cuisine (although, I would ask, why not?), but under constraints, I would have chosen either Keralite or Tamil Nadu cuisine. I would argue that Kannad cuisine is very similar to Tamil cuisine, and also that the latter is more expansive than the former.

Heck what do I know. I'm just a south indian.

Here's some trivia that I found interesting:

1. Chillies were introduced by the Portuguese. Now though, there is such a variety of chillies grown in India that only Mexico rivals India in its varieties of chillies. Incidentally, the Indian state of Assam produces the hottest chilly known to mankind-the bhut jolokia.

2. Jilebi, that yummy gujarati breakfast/dessert has its origins in the Arabia zalabiya.

3. Paneer, its origins in the Farsi Peynir. It was introduced to the Indians by the mughals.