Wednesday, April 21, 2010

On the curry trail

London-based Colleen Sen on her latest book and the many avatars of the ubiquitous curry

Food might seem frivolous. After all, a payasam's hardly a political statement, right? You'd be surprised. “Food tells us so much about who we are,” says Chicago-based culinary historian Colleen Sen, in a phone interview to discuss her new book Curry — A Global History. “Your history your identity, your religion — they all have a significant impact on your food.” The book, commissioned by publisher Reaktion Press in London, is a part of their new Edible Series, a set of food books each focussing on a single dish or ingredient (tea, pizza, hot dogs) in a global context.

Stating that this reflects a growing interest in the origins and history of what we eat, Colleen says food cultural history — which is what she specialises in — is getting increasingly popular as an area of research in America. “It's a professional look at food as more than just recipes.” After all, what's on your plate is a powerful expression of your past. Family cookbooks are a historical account of community, shaped by effects of history, geography and imagination. Daily food choices are influenced far more by the past than random moods and preferences. Indian food, for instance, might seem like the creation of generations of home cooks. In reality, that's just half the story.

Full report here Hindu

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