Green Chili and Other Impostors
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“In this delightful book, Nina Mukerjee Furstenau plays sharp-eyed detective and amiable guide as she traces essential Bengali ingredients along histories that are as surprising and creative as the cooks they inspire. Each ingredient in Green Chili and Other Impostors leads to a deeper understanding of how foods, gathered from all over the world, are claimed and made at home—a global story that Furstenau makes personal in luscious prose. I’ll never look at a green chili—or any of these delicious dishes—the same way again.”—Kate Lebo, author, The Book of Difficult Fruit: Arguments for the Tart, Tender, and Unruly
“A compelling book with a remarkable mix of history, personal insights, and a genuine investment in making connections across continents, generations, and disciplines. I loved its wonderfully eclectic mix of themes, in terms of ingredients, communities, and historical traditions. My absolute favorite is the section on the kaffir lime or gondhoraj lebu—so delightfully counterintuitive!”—Jayanta Sengupta, director, Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata, India
“I was mesmerized by this ambitious book—a blend of memoir, research, and food lore—from start to finish. From inside her farmhouse kitchen in Missouri to the home of a traditional cheesemaker outside Kolkata, from the fish pond in her grandmother’s garden to the tea gardens of Makaibari, I walked with the author as she took me to multiple, flavor-rich worlds.”—Sayantani Dasgupta, author, Women Who Misbehave
Follow a food trail and you’ll find yourself crisscrossing oceans. Join Nina Mukerjee Furstenau in Green Chili and Other Impostors as she picks through lost tastes with recipes as codes to everything from political resistance to comfort food and much more. Pinpoint the entry of the Portuguese in India by following green chili trails; find the origins of limes; trace tomatoes and potatoes in India to the Malabar Coast; consider what makes a food, or even a person, foreign and marvel how and when they cease to be.
Food history is a world heritage story that has all the drama of a tense thriller or maybe a mystery. Whose food is it? Who gets to tell its tale? Respect for food history might tame the accusations of appropriation, but what is at stake as food traditions and biodiversity ebb away is the great, and not-always-good, story of us.