Monsoon Diary – Shoba Narayan
When Smitha wrote about Monsoon Diary on her blog in 2012, I thought the book sounded very interesting. I made a note of it in my Must-Read-Books list and proceeded to forget all about it. I was recently looking for food-based books to read and found it on my list – that is how I picked it up. I am so glad I did, for it was a beautiful read.
Monsoon Diary is Shoba Narayan‘s memoir of her growing-up days, and the kind of food that she grew up eating, with recipes. Shoba retells a part of her life – right from the time she was born till she got married – with warmth, nostalgia and humour. Alongside, there is a passionate love for food, which is very much evident. In spite of being a very personal account, Monsoon Diary does not, at any point, get boring. It is fun to read about her brother and parents and, later, about her husband and his family.
Shoba has included the recipes of foods that are special to her, and which are associated with the important events in her life. Many of these foods are simple, home-made fare, which South Indian families have been eating for generations together, including ours. The recipe part of the book, thus, did not hold that much of an attraction for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading the memoir part.
Recommended? Yes. Very much.
Bong Mom’s Cookbook – Sandeepa Mukherjee Datta
I am a relatively new reader of Sandeepa’s blog, but have loved whatever posts of hers I have read. I love the way she combines personal stories with her recipes, making for very interesting reading. So, when I learnt about her book, Bong Mom’s Cookbook, I knew I would enjoy reading it. And I did.
Bong Mom’s Cookbook is Sandeepa’s account of being a busy, working mother of two, and how she juggles her work and family responsibilities. She is a new-age mother and strives to maintain a balance between the food influences of the US of A, where she lives, and giving her children a chance to grow up with the Bengali food that she herself grew up with. The book is nothing if not honest. Sandeepa doesn’t claim to be an expert on Bengali cooking, but just writes about her love for it, and how she tries to walk on multiple ropes. That is something I loved about the book.
The memoir part of the book was light and interesting to read, though I felt that slightly tighter editing would have worked wonders for it. Like I was saying here, the book inspired in me a deep desire to visit Calcutta, to enjoy the culture, food and quaint sights and sounds that the city has to offer. Reading the book was an enlightening experience for me, because all I knew about Bengali food is paanch phoron and rosogulla, and the fact that Bengalis eat a lot of fish. The book taught me that there are a lot of vegetarian snacks and foods in Bengali cuisine as well. I am inspired to even try out a few of these recipes at home, myself.
Go for this book if you love reading about food in general, if you love Calcutta, or are looking for a breezy memoir.
Have you read both or any of these books? What are your thoughts about it/them?
What are you reading presently?