Since it’s January, I was feeling in the mood for something a little exotic. And food-related. I had originally checked out A Year in Provence, but after reading several reviews of this book, opted for it instead.
And I’m not sorry I did. Madhur Jaffrey (whom I mostly know of as a cookbook writer; I was surprised to find out she was an actress) has put together a wonderfully exotic, fun, interesting memoir of her childhood. I loved reading about her education (in a couple of Christian convents, one in Kanpur, one in New Delhi), I enjoyed her stories of her mother and sisters (especially the haggling with local salesmen), I loved the descriptions of the holidays (I need to add Holi to our list of holidays we celebrate; anyone know when it is?). But mostly I loved the descriptions of the food.
Before I quote something, I have to explain this. I have avoided eating Indian food for years. I had an Indian friend when I was younger, and I’d go over to her house, but for some reason the smell of Indian food is linked with the smell of my friend’s grandfather’s hookah pipe. I’d always leave with a headache, and as a result, never tried the food. And have avoided it since then.
However, Madhur Jaffrey has changed my mind. For example (she’s talking about an experience getting food at the Lane of Fried Breads in Delhi):
Before any real food arrived, we would start dipping our fingers in the
condiments and licking them. Then came the vegetables — meats did not belong in such places — carrots stir-fried with young fenugreek greens; potatoes, and peas cooked with cumin, asafetida, and tomatoes; cauliflower with ginger and green chilies. As soon as the vegetables were on our plates, the hot, hot parathas floated in, whichever we had ordered, all puffed ready to be deflated and devoured even before all the steam had hissed out.
They’re all like that: yummy sounding. I guess I must find an Indian restaurant and at least give it a whirl. Either that, or try out one of the recipes in back.