Traversing cuisine map in books

Words have such mysterious power to evoke and excite senses making them explore and discover different worlds. Having always been under their spell I made a recent discovery that while reading a book I linger over food description and then tend to explore more of that cuisine. 

This tastebud exploration led me to read more about cuisines and dishes I never other wise would have thought of. I even recently tried a recipe of Fruit Pudding that I came across after reading, ‘I am a Hutterite.’

In the past month have traversed the cuisine map from Rwanda to Amsterdam to Turkey and China. While reading ‘Left to tell’ by Immaculee Ilibagiza, the simple Rwandan meals decribed piqued my interest. Who knew there was so much variety in Rwandan cuisine inspite of limited ingredients. Kachumbri, fried breads and bananas and beans cooked in simple gravy. It seemed like a simple yet pleasurable explosion of flavours. 

Christina Olson, the heroine in the book ‘A piece of the world’, made me crabs fried apple cake and succulent egg salad sandwiches. In fact, I even found a recipe of egg salad with Siraracha sauce which is added alongwith other ingredients. 

Orhan Pahmuk books make me scour everything to do with eggplants and cheese. So let’s say baked eggplants, eggplant stew, pickled eggplants. 

‘ The Last Empress’ which is a biography of Dowager Empress Xi Ci opened a new world of Manchu cuisine filled with hot pots and a range of meats and dumplings. 

Amsterdam was nowhere on my mind but ‘The Miniaturist’ by Jessie Burton was a delightful introduction to the food as eaten by people in 16th century. White bread or herenbrood was eaten only by the very rich. Gouda cheese and wine melted in my mouth alongwith the imagined taste of the bread. Olie-Koechen a kind of fried dough with almond, ginger, clove and apple reminded me if a story I heard about someone eating fried doughs in a fair. 

I am reading classic American books and autobiographies set in Chile and Africa. Wondering what tasty worlds will they reveal…


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