Spice of Life

Mita Kapur on her new book Chillies and Porridge, that binds together food memories.

Written by Shantanu David | Updated: January 13, 2016 12:10:33 am

How did the book come about?
From the response to my first book, The F-Word, I realised that there were a lot of people out there who wanted to talk about their own food memories. I was meeting my publisher at Harper Collins, who noted that there hadn’t been a food anthology published in the country since the late ’90s and asked whether I’d like to curate one. Considering the revolution the food industry has witnessed over the last decade, we felt it was time to both update the food archives as well as document the new paradigm shifts.

It must have been quite an effort to coordinate between the different contributors. Did you have a particular list of people you wanted to write?
It was an organic process. I didn’t have any list or agenda when I set out to collate the writings. I knew some of the people were good writers; others, I was curious to see what they’d write. There was no set theme or anything, the contributors were free to approach the writing from any angle, whether they were writing about a particular dish or a childhood memory.

The book has voices from various creative fields. How did you curate this writer’s collective?
I think the common denominator between all the contributors was a great love for food. So you have Wendell Rodericks, who wrote so passionately about food in his autobiography, The Green Room, whom I knew would write wonderfully; besides, he’s a superlative cook himself. Then whether it was Floyd Cardoz and Manu Chandra, they weren’t asked because they’re such high-calibre chefs but because of their intense passion for the subject.

Would you be looking at coming out with more such culinary anthologies?
Apart from the changes in the food scene, there are also a lot of food traditions which are on the verge of disappearing. So it is vital we preserve them. I’m currently working on my second book, which Chillies and Porridge interrupted. But yes, if I can figure out a way to balance it out, I would love to work on similar projects.

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