Friday, 16 August 2013

5 Food Fiction Books I Loved

Food fiction and food writing are emerging in leaps and bounds. No, these are not recipe/ cookery books. They are stories and memoirs in which food is an integral part of the story. They do have recipes too. All of us remember reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with chocolate in all its glory being the hero of the story. That is what food fiction is!

Since I have read and heard about food fiction as an emerging genre, I have tried to find and read as many books as I can of this genre because it combines two of my loves, food and reading. Here are some of the books I have read and enjoyed. They have made me call up/ grab my friends who I know like reading/ food and tell them, "Hey you know what?! Read this!"

1. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

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An unforgettable classic with chocolate descriptions that can fulfill anyone's fantasies and convert a chocolate non-lover into a chocolate worshipper. There are chocolate rivers,chocolate boats, chocolate grass and chocolate flowers in a factory! There is a kind of chocolate for every chocolate lover and then there is chocolate for non-lovers of chocolate. If only we had a real-life Willy Wonka with his chocolate factory!

2.  Hindi Bindi Club by Monica Pradhan

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The Hindi Bindi Club is a story of three first generation Indian immigrants and their daughters. It is a story of love, identity and human triumphs in the face of challenges. The beauty of this book is how food forms a great part of how these women connect with each other and the second generation finds a connection to its Indian heritage. There are three cuisines that are predominant in this book: Maharashtrian cuisine, Punjabi cuisine and Bengali cuisine with detailed and well written recipes for those living outside India having a penchant for Indian food. There are great instructions for how to find the right ingredients, which brands to use for which ingredients and what substitutes to use when one can't find these. A must read for all food and book lovers.

3. Monsoon Diary by Shoba Narayan

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In Monsoon Diary the author takes the reader through her personal journey of food from childhood till early marriage days. It is what I would call a food autobiography. There are some really touching moments in the book like when the author cooks a family feast that wins her entire clan's approval to win a challenge so that her family would send her to the US to study. The author being South Indian shares some classic South Indian food traditions and great recipes.

4. Chocolat by Joanne Harris

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The winds bring a maverick chocolate maker and her daughter to an orthodox town in France during Lent. Ripples are created and battle-lines are drawn. Over chocolate feasts, people find their voices, their ideas, their beliefs and themselves. And the free-footed chocolate maker makes a home. As with Charlie and the Chocolate factory, this book is a must-read for all the chocolate descriptions.

5. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

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Twelve sections, one for each month. Twelve recipes, each one related to an event in protagonist Tita's life. Tita is the youngest daughter of a family where tradition forbids her to marry so she can take care of her mother. And so her mother forbids her from marrying the one she loves. Amidst all this, her love for food is the only way she can express herself fully. Using magical realism as a technique, the author poignantly describes how Tita's emotions become infused with the food she cooks and affects everyone around her. A moving tale of boundaries and expressing oneself through one's food.