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Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India Paperback – October 9, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The celebrated actress and author of several books on Indian cooking turns her attention to her own childhood in Delhi and Kampur. Born in 1933 as one of six children of a prosperous businessman, Jaffrey grew up as part of a huge "joint family" of aunts, uncles and cousins—often 40 at dinner—under the benign but strict thumb of Babaji, her grandfather and imperious family patriarch. It was a privileged and cosmopolitan family, influenced by Hindu, Muslim and British traditions, and though these were not easy years in India, a British ally in WWII and soon to go though the agony of partition (the separation and formation of Muslim Pakistan), Jaffrey's graceful prose and sure powers of description paint a vivid landscape of an almost enchanted childhood. Her family and friends, the bittersweet sorrows of puberty, the sensual sounds and smells of the monsoon rain, all are remembered with love and care, but nowhere is her writing more evocative than when she details the food of her childhood, which she does often and at length. Upon finishing this splendid memoir, the reader will delight in the 30 "family-style" recipes included as lagniappe at the end. Photos. (Oct. 11)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Actress and consummate authority on the foods of India, Jaffrey reflects on her earliest memories in this autobiography. Steeped in Hindu culture and learning, she grew up within an extended well-to-do Delhi family that expected the best of each. Starting with her grandmother's placing honey on her tongue shortly after birth, Jaffrey's life began to arrange itself around all that food represents in Hindu life. Some of her most touching and distressing scenes come with the advent of India's independence and its partition. Jaffrey's friends and schoolmates had from the outset included both Hindu and Muslim, but religious and political strife soon sundered all relations. On the culinary front, Hindu refugees from the subcontinent's northwest regions brought tandoori cooking to Delhi and ultimately made it an integral part of the national cuisine. In an appendix, Jaffrey records recipes for dozens of dishes that figure in her memoir. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I bought this book for I was born in Delhi, India, around the time (give or take 10 years)that Ms. Jaffrey writes about.
It is delightful.
Not only the narrative, simple, unassuming but wonderfully evocative, but what she manages to put in between family reminiscences. All those wonderful food items and she describes them with mouthwatering adjectives.
Very enjoyble indeed.
I wish they'll bring out an audio edition, this is worth listening to and drool in a long car journey
This is a memoir of sorts but the whole time I was reading it (despite her delightful personality) I felt I was missing something. There were nice intermittent memoirs but not a real thread that wove it all together. And the ominous descriptions of her uncle terminated with a comment that he died one day after she left India.
I think her story is lovely but it isn't what I expected of her. But maybe that's just a testament to her expertise as a cookbook author ( no small feat!) and a PBS TV personna..she is very charming and you wish she was your neighbor or friend!
So yes, I enjoyed this book but having seen her before on TV and in cookbook form, the story was loose and needed better editing and guidance with the plot. But I read it on a wine country escape and it did serve as a lovely counterpart to my experience.
If you are at all interested in Indian cuisine, please read her many Indian cookbooks which are all superb.