Food for thought is a blog created by the wonderfully creative and talented Jain, of Once in a Blue Moon. It combines reading and food. The general idea is to read a book, cook a dish mentioned in the book, take photographs and write a review of the book. And finally post it and link.So when Jain invited me to join in it was the highlight of my day. I could never imagine saying no to such an exciting and enthralling idea! So here I am with my first contribution to Food For Thought!
To find out more about Food For Thought just click here.
*** and a half
I would probably never undergo the trials and tribulations of being a new immigrant nor would I ever suffer the pain of despising the sound of my own name. On those two counts I've been blessed. And I hope my children feel as blessed as I do. Unfortunately this was not the case for Gogol Ganguli.
Like many children of immigrant parents, Gogol straddled two cultures painfully, petulantly and reluctantly; the one pulling him back in and the other cajoling. Add to that a strange sounding name that he detests Gogol struggles both in his search for an identity and in coming to terms with his own name.
The novel follows Gogol through his experiences, his frustrations, his love affairs, his marriage and finally the understanding and acceptance of his name.
It also follows the lives of Ashoke and Ashima as immigrant parents, their heartaches and concern for their childrens' apathy for their Bengali culture and traditions.
This is The Namesake, a novel by Jhumpa Lahiri, author of the highly acclaimed Interpreter of Maladies, winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
The picture below shows Jhumpa Lahiri, author of The namesake.
Although the theme appealed to me and I always love novels that deal with internal conflicts I did however feel that this book fell a little short of my expectations.
It didn't draw me in emotionally as I hoped it would so that I pained with them, so that they touched the very core of my nerves. But in spite of that I found it very readable. It kept me going because I did want to know how the story would end.
But when it did The Namesake did not leave me with that lingering, meaningful and profound sensation or at the least a satisfied sigh. I guess it didn't quite do it for me.
But Lahiri writes beautifully, her prose fluid and her potrayal of emotions and details sharp and distinct. But many a time I wished that Lahiri would show rather than tell. And certain incidents in the story I found to be somewhat superficial.
I believe too that even in the most conflicting of moments life has its humour. In the Namesake there was none. How I would have loved to have laughed just a little.
To those who did love this book ~ please don't hit me.
For from each and every book that I have read, brilliant, good or mediocre, I have always either learnt something new or been reassured of a belief.
I was reassured that nothing could be more precious or appreciated than the sincere love of a parent for a child. Regardless of challenges faced. And now I also know what a corbel is.
On the whole I would say that The Namesake is readable.
There is no lack of food vignettes in this book; or in the varieties of Indian food which I love. In fact the book starts the very first page with a recipe.
My eyes widened in pleasant surprise and it was one of the reasons I decided to settle on this book as a first contribution to Food For Thought.
I had dog eared so many pages where the characters had either prepared food or ate them that I thought that I was going to go insanely indecisive again. However 'I did it'. I picked one.
Finally I chose a dish for it's simplicity and the occasion for its significance. It is a rice pudding or payesh.
It occurs early in the book and the occasion was Gogol's annaprasam or rice ceremony at the age of six months.
This is the recipe that I have re-created for the rice pudding that Ashima had prepared......
1/2 cup basmati rice, washed and rinsed at least 5 times
1 1/2 cups of water
2-3 cups full cream milk
1/2 sugar or more
1 tsp saffron, soaked in 1 T warm milk
4 cardomom pods, shelled and seeds crushed a little
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1 cinnamon stick
some crushed pistachios for garnish
cinnamon powder for garnish
Boil rice in water until it is cooked and is soft and fluffy. Add milk, sugar, cardomom seeds, cinnamon stick, chopped almonds and saffron and simmer for another 20- 30 minutes. You may add more water or milk if necessary.
Cook and reduce until the pudding is thick and pudding like. Serve in a bowl sprinkled with cinnamon powder and chopped pistachios, warm or cold.