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Eating India: An Odyssey into the Food and Culture of the Land of Spices Hardcover – July 10, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; First Edition edition (July 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596910186
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596910188
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #290,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Skillfully moving backward and forward in time, Banerji, a culinary historian based in the U.S. whose previous books have explored the cookery of her native Bengal (Life and Food in Bengal), regards India with the intimacy of a native, the curiosity of an outsider and the broad vantage of an expatriate. In the course of her culinary tours across the subcontinent, she poses compelling questions about the nature of authenticity in a time of great flux, the mutability of tradition and the place of food in secular life and religious culture. For answers, she looks not only to the past but to the present as it unfolds in roadside shacks, sweet shops or a temple canteen, describing how outside influences such as colonialism and immigration have shaped India's regional cuisines. Early in this engaging work, Banerji recounts how whenever she invites Americans to her home for an elaborate meal, rather than sampling each dish in sequence—the better to appreciate its subtle flavors—her guests heap together meat, rice and vegetables on one plate. The decision to allow appetite and intellectual curiosity to determine her course could easily have resulted in a similar mishmash. It is to the author's credit that her journeys to Benares, Gujarat and points south retain their unique flavors.
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Praise for Eating India:
"Award-winning food writer Banerji examines in marvelous detail the cultural and historical influences that have shaped regional cuisine in ancient and modern India...Readers will savor the author's mouthwatering prose...After reading this engaging work, one will appreciate the complexities and subtleties of Indian cuisine."-Library Journal
“This book is a fascinating tour through the culinary and cultural landscape of India, with mouthwatering descriptions of local delicacies and brief historical side-tours that provide context and background for the reader.”—Jewish Advocate, 6/22/07

"Chitrita Banerji is one of those rare writers who can tease the meaning out of ordinary foods without ever seeming trivial, pretentious or self-indulgent...Banerji peels back the husk of triviality to reveal the history, culture, and emotional ballast that can reside in even the most everyday dish...Even if you only have a passing interest in India, this book is worth a read."—Gourmet’s Choptalk

“Highly recommend this newly-published book for literate and engaging writing on travel in India and Indian food in various parts of the country. Must-read for Indian food fans”—

"[Banerji is] a wonderful food writer. Neither a travelogue nor a recipe book, this is a personal jouney to more than a dozen regions in India... This is food writing at its best, historically and culinarily informative... and filled with the interestingly personal.... The stuff of interesting dining, thinking, and reading." -- Gastronomica

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Diana Rohini LaVigne on December 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Title: Eating India
Author: Chitrita Banerji
ISBN: 978-1-59691-018-8
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Review By: Diana Rohini LaVigne, Indian Life & Style Magazine

From local eating myths to well-known facts about how food migrates with its people, Eating India rips into the history of food in India leaving no stone unturned. Wonderfully written in travel journal-style, Eating India takes readers from the pepper capital of Kerala to the imperial styled northern cuisines of Muslims to the eating habits of the fast-paced city by the sea, Bombay. Chitrita Bangerji challenges her own childhood memories of various cuisines and asks locals about emerging trends in food'. She strives to find the `real' story from `real' people and delivers a knock-out book in the end.

The details of her findings are laced with interesting tidbits about the geographic region, the nature of the people in the area and a vivid description of the sights and sounds so that a reader can place themselves exactly in that area without difficulty.

This is an important book in order to preserve some of the finer details about the exquisite cuisine in India. Without this book, the world might loose some of that history. Eating India is fun to read, delivers an incredible amount of information and an important part of keeping the history of India's cuisines alive.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Sanatan on July 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
You think you know India, but after reading Eating India, you realize how wonderfully rich, tasty, and complex is the "Khichdi" called India. The real melting pot through millenia that has absorbed the waves of Aryans, Huns, Mongols, Greeks, Mughals, Europeans, and many others into its ever changing but unique identity is explored here in this book through the medium of food. The book is more than just a food book. It offers a prismatic look at the people, history, geography, and culture of the various regions of India. I grew up in Gujarat, but after reading the book, my salivary glands are working overtime, and I cannot wait to visit Ahmedabad and check out Agashiye restaurant. For the gastronomically adventurous traveller, especially if she has the digestive immune system that can handle a few choice microbes, the pleasures of eating at a roadside "dhaba" is not to be missed.
A wonderful book for anyone who loves food, travel, and history. Desis and non-desis alike will find it stimulating and appetizing.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ashwin Needamangala on September 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The title of this book should really have been "Eating India: Proof that Bengali cuisine is superior". Knowing the author is from Kolkata, I expected more coverage of Bengali cuisine. But I certainly didn't expect a blatant bias when covering other regional cuisines. The author constantly harks back to the food she knows best and asserts how her native cuisine requires a more delicate balance of spices and herbs without making much of an effort in knowing if other cuisines require a similar balance. Simple Bengali dishes are glorified while dishes of similar or even higher complexity from other regions are given just a passing mention. I made a bad decision in buying this book outright. So I couldn't justify quitting after the first couple of chapters. I could however, resort to speed reading and turn the pages as quickly as possible. :-)
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mary on October 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
this book is in a class of its own--part travel, part food and part culture spiced throughout with love --
Chitrita spoils us again with her excellent writing, fantastic eye for detail and ability to bring together and share with us the foods and customs and locales that make India so wild, exotic and special; she shares it all from her authentic perspective. This is unlike any other book on India; we have waited too long for this integrated point of view. hope she has another book in the works. Mary K. Eliot
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