A cookbook in audio may not sound that appealing to most people, largely because of the onus to copy down information to paper for easier reference. But ‘India: A Culinary Journey’ is less a collection of recipes than it is a foray into the food culture of this massive country; and it just happens to offer a few helpful hints for listeners that want to experience the flavors and dishes under discussion. Listeners can expect to find over a hundred recipes included in this selection, and plenty are worth the trouble of copying down to try. But the bigger draw of Prem Souri Kishore’s diatribe on the culinary wonders of her home country is the spice she adds through imparting her own experiences with food, not to mention relating it to the broader landscape of history and culture that have helped to shape the foods of this diverse and far-flung nation. The best literature gives its audience a personal, relatable perspective on the subject matter while tying it into the broader tapestry that our single lives are set upon. Kishore does this with great mastery in her audio book.
‘India: A Culinary Journey’ could best be described as a love letter. And as Kishore unveils the scene of her childhood kitchen, where she first watched the women in her family prepare the delicious dishes that she would one day make on her own, you can almost smell the spices and hear the laughter. As she says in the opening lines of her narrative, referencing a large family gathering, “Food was our spectacular gift to one another.” In her family, as in many families of Indian origin, food brought the family together and it tied them not only to each other, but to a rich history and culture that could not be left behind even when many of them had moved to other parts of the world. Listeners will get lost in Kishore’s detailed descriptions of food and family, many of which will draw out memories of their own family gatherings around a holiday feast. But what takes this audio book to the next level is how she ties in the culture and history that accompany the foods of India.
The narrative actually opens with the following quote: “It is said that no one can possibly feast on all the fascinating varieties of Indian food in one lifetime.” Kishore clearly isn’t trying to debunk that statement by delivering a compendium of Indian cooking to listeners. What she does impart, however, are snippets of the vast variety of food choices the country has to offer, with selections from the north, south, east, west, and center of the country, all of them featuring their own particular appeal. From cornmeal bread to fish to spicy chutney, listeners will be transported from one region of the country to the next, sampling each dish with their mind before they ever put the ingredients into play in the kitchen.
If nothing else, this lovingly crafted and passionate narrative about Kishore’s personal journey through food will have you wanting to try some recipes. But once you have started to understand that the selections offered in the book are only a shadow of what India has to offer the palette, you might just dial up a travel agency like HolidayBirds to plan your own tour of this nation of foodies. In ‘India: A Culinary Journey’, Kishore has painted a beautiful portrait of her family, her country, and the foods that bring them together. And listeners can’t help but fall in love with this mouthwatering audio book.