Explore food stories through times of famine

By Sukant Deepak

It was while writing an article on the Bengal famine of 1943 that she asked herself: why does Indian cuisine only focus on gastronomy centered on taste? Who writes about cooking and who grows food? Also, why does Indian food history not consider periods of hunger to be legitimate, is there a reason for these to be buried, and do they have to do with shame? and trauma? Sharanya Deepak, one of two residents of the Serendipity Arts Residency in Culinary Arts, will research exploring food histories through times of famine in the South Asian subcontinent. Focusing on the Rajputana famine of 1869, which hit the British territory of Rajputana, which stretches from present-day Ajmer to the Punjab, she tells IANS: is fighting in the area, and see how the times of hunger are echo in urban kitchens. I also want to be able to work in the same without resuscitating the trauma and shame of the time. We will see if this can be done successfully. Tell her about the current state of the food literature in India, which is slowly emerging from the crutches of the few elite authorities, and she says, “Previously, food was associated with slogans like tradition and authenticity, with some people deciding what is good and bad food. In a nation of a billion people, all revived by social hierarchies, this is not only inaccurate but also commonplace. But nowadays, we have publications like the very resolute Goya Journal and Vittles, a London-based newsletter that publishes extensively on South Asian cuisine. Even though food writing is limited to “restaurant reviews” in the mainstream media, it finds it tragic that we cannot look beyond this culture of hero worship and lifestyle writing. of food. “Why I don’t think this is strange is because the food and the media are both based on rigorous ownership structures that are managed by the dominant caste, individuals and urban upper class organizations. Thus, the narratives also remain limited and sterile. But hopefully we’ll see more scriptures branching out these days. “I think the international media, even though they have their own set of challenges, have ignited a lot of good food writing from India. Take this article on who keeps Alphonso Mango on Blood Fry, or this great article on Pakistan Kebab Roll in Vittles. These are all great writings on food, but also a lot of other stuff. It’s the kind of writing that I love… I can’t think of food in isolation, ”she says. For someone who started out as a freelance journalist with mostly international publications, and had no intention of making food writing his genre, the reason for its expansion was that the Indian media is saturated with feature film writers. “I thought it was better to have a niche if I was going to be freelance, because the world of food writing was sort of on at the time. It was a good trick to be able to come in and write about the things that I love, but can also criticize. I’m not exclusively a food writer though. Although I’m supposed to be. So next year will be a direct effort to branch out and write about other things as well, ”she said. Currently working on first-person essays and wishing to write more about music, she hopes this essay will help her write a book proposal on the same topic. “I also have the idea of ​​working on a book that considers urban dishes that appear in cities, those that cannot be categorized – say Tandoori momo, or Frankie roll. These are dishes that heritage food critics always despise. I think these contain great stories and good scenes, and maybe I’ll consider working on a book about them, ”she concludes. (IAN)

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