Sunday, March 5, 2006

A most enchanting book

The CC is reading a rather enchanting book titled Curries and Bugles : A Memoir and Cookbook of the British Raj.

Whatever one's political opinions on The Raj, it would be most curmudgeonly to deride such a delightfully charming, part nostalgia-laden memoir, part cookbook.

And to top it all, it's filled with the most charming old-fashioned expressions that the CC hasn't heard in a decade.

Of course, it would be completely and utterly infra dig for the CC to actually list them.

The book, actually, goes back to a somewhat-dying tradition in cookbooks. Before they became formally recipe-laden, and filled with hyper-glossy near-pornish pictures, they had an almost whimsical air to them.

The first pan-Italian cookbook belongs to this genre (more on that in a later post.) For example, it describes the author's near death by cholera by a dish eaten at Livorno (it was dysentery really!) followed by a recipe of the dish -- a minestrone.

Wouldn't you just love to use a cookbook like that?

Alas! The modern world of interest-groups, sub-cultures, and Madison Ave.-consultants does not lend itself to such eccentricities.

Hence, the CC's delight at both the form, and the content of the book. Add to that, the recreation of some foods long forgotten from his youth, and you can guess why this post has a rather rhapsodic air about it.

Some rather enjoyable excerpts from the book:

"By the by, an omelette is never cooked to such perfection anywhere as by an Indian cook."

-- Harriet Tytler, An Englishwoman in India.

Yep, it's true. Julia Child, eat your heart out!

On the inscription on the tombstone of an unfortunate Rev. Isadore Lowenthal:


Well done, thou good and faithful servant

Delightful, the CC says, simply too delightful for words!

And, for all the Californians (Californicators?) here, she runs a restaurant eponymous with the book in San Diego (although she must be rather old by now.)


slampoud said...

CC, at some point Californicator #2 -- in order of arrival -- will be needing an indian cookbook recommendation, with an eye to neither porn not cuteness, but rather high probability of success when attempting the recipes.

ShockingSchadenfreude said...

India has 20+ major cuisines. You're going to have to be a tad more specific.

cafemadras said...

What are 'some foods long forgotten from his youth'? Drop in for some idlis. CC, much before youth, omelettes were made and spoilt by several 'Indian cooks' of dubious merit.

ShockingSchadenfreude said...

Dorm cooks are not 'cooks'.