Today I shall be writing a book review. It is my first book review ever. I don't think I am qualified to do it. Not because I haven't read all that many books (I haven't) or that I don't have all that many brains (I don't) but because I am too emotional about the subject matter of the said book. Right, you guessed it. It's a book about food.
A little about my own history here. I breezed through some 40 years of my life without thinking much about comestibles, other than when I was hungry. I ate when I felt like eating, as much as I wanted and pretty much anything on the table. And then, when I turned 40, I got hauled off for a lipid profile test, a blood test designed to put the fear of dying into irresponsible middleaged people. An obscene number was observed against the legend "tri-glycerides" in the report and I was immediately carted off to various doctors, cardiologists and other busybodies. They collectively told me - and worse, the missus - that if I didn't knock off the calories, I would probably be the cause of the LIC reporting lower profits because of having paid out my life insurance. They observed that this would not be an entirely bad thing, because in virtually everyone's opinion, the LIC has far too much money and a little de-moneyfying would be great for their character but they (the doctors, cardiologists and other busybodies) would rather it not be a sterling chap like me. And at this point I realize I've been rambling. Sorry. You still with me? Good.
It's funny how one values things only when they've been snatched away from one. Post the tri-glycerides episode, I was basically put on a ration of gruel and water and the only way I could get any kind of nutrition was to sneak off into the kitchen when the missus wasn't looking and cook something. So I learned not only to cook really fast but also to wash and clean the pots and pans equally fast, dry them out and put them back in their places before the missus noticed. And that, dear reader, is the sole qualification in my otherwise unqualified self for writing this review.
And now on to business. The book - I loved the title - "How the Banana goes to Heaven" - is written is a breezy, cheerful style. It is organized into chapters, each chapter dealing with one ingredient of vegetarian cooking.
For instance, there is one on ragi, aka millet, which is a terrific food for anyone interested in living a long life. There is one on ghee which says such good things about it (the missus has sentiments towards ghee which make Arab-Jew relations seem like teen romance in comparison) that I became emotional. I love ghee, you see, and the missus is as likely to give me any as the US would be to give the Taliban a consignment of enriched Uranium.
The author gives a delightful, trivia-filled background for the item in question, and a summary of nutrition information which covers what current scientific opinion about it is, and a recipe or two using the said ingredient.
What I liked about the book was the engaging style and the consistently cheerful tone throughout the book. Makes it highly readable. The author, Ratna Rajaiah, is a popular blogger and columnist for The New Indian Express. She writes very well indeed. After reading I am equipped with dozens, if not hundreds, of little facts about food that will save my life when accosted by random aunties at parties as I so often tend to be.
There aren't many recipes in the book, just one at the end of every chapter, but then, it's not a cookery book, it's a book about food. The recipes look pretty nice though, and are fairly unusual. Which makes it interesting enough for me. I haven't tried many out but the few that I did, I liked. One, a preparation called Roasted Rice Dumplings, turned out really good. These dumplings went very well with beer. Though, as the missus would observe, if she knew about this, what doesn't.
Highly recommended for people who like reading about food. Also, suitable for random reads, since the chapters are little independent compartments. You can basically open it to any page and take a stab at it. The book is well produced. Lovely photographs throughout. The printing is very good and overall I think it is a great buy for anyone even slightly interested in the marvelous subject of food