Author Archive

Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Hema and Kaushik”: Love Across Borders

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When I first read Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri’s long short story “Hema and Kaushik,” I lived in suburban Mumbai, where I often sat in darkness by the window at night all by myself. In Koparkhairane, twenty-four miles from downtown Mumbai, power outages were common.

In Frances Mayes’ Book, Another Starring Role for Food

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Last month, I wrote about the starring role food plays in Peter Mayle’s memoir, A Year in Provence. Frances Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy has been called the Italian equivalent of Mayle’s book. Mayes is a poet, so it is natural that her prose charms

How Food Stars in Peter Mayle’s Memoir

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Being a lover of food and memoirs, I have a dream of living in a foreign country, especially in Europe, for a year and writing about its food customs.

Faith and Fiction: Did Salinger’s Work Give in to Vedanta?

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The impact of Vedanta philosophy on Salinger’s life is obvious, but is open to debate as far as his writing is concerned. Having been deeply influenced by the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna and Vedantic thought, Salinger created characters who, a few scholars have said, seem to spread the author’s

The Mango Story: Beyond the Asian Stereotype

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For a nonfiction food writer, the mango provides an endless mine of stories. For those living in Asia and immigrants in other countries, eating mangoes is so visceral, so memorable an experience that the significance of eating them often transcends mere flavor. Mango then becomes a metaphor.

Can the Language of Food Unite the World?

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In an earlier post, I wrote about how food writers grapple with the challenge of describing taste and smell. There are many more aspects to the language used to describe food. Stanford University linguist Dan Jurafsky has written a fascinating study, The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the

Seeking a Poet’s Soul and Native Heritage

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I grew up in India’s heartland, 500 miles from Bengal, the state where I was born – and where one of India’s greatest poets lived and wrote. The poet, India’s only Nobel Prize winner in literature, Rabindranath Tagore, was a Bengali.

Writing in a Non-Native Language: Choosing Whom to Love

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During my adolescence, I fell in love with a language before I fell in love with a human being. In high school, in India, a former colony of the British, I came to like – and then love – the English language. The first words I had learned as

Adding Taste to Food Writing

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I remember the smells from my mother’s cooking that wafted in the breeze as I played as a young boy growing up in India’s heartland. I remember the smell of mustard seeds that went pop pop pop in hot mustard oil in a kadhai.

Mango and Masala: Food in the Immigrant Novel

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The buffet of novels in which food takes center stage is abundant and delicious. As a nonfiction food writer and a dabbler in fiction I find a wide array as I try to research how fiction writers, especially novelists, depict food. Simple preliminary Googling suggests more than fifty such novels.