Must read: Edible Atlas that celebrates daily meals

As we see, the military takeover is being patrolled by soldiers on the streets of Bangkok, a fitting moment to see the history and myths encoded in the daily food. This month it was recalled that Pad Thai owes its popularity to being adopted as a national dish by the ultra-nationalist military dictator of Thailand, Plaque Fibunsankharam, in the 1940s. Some say there was an attempt to curb the use of rice, whose export was (and remains) a major source of income, but the food is so popular around the world that Mina Holland says she chose not to repeat it and included the recipe. His encyclopedic survey of daily food, The Edible Atlas: Thirty-Nine Cuisine around the world.

A strange excitement tells the book that Holland, an established food writer, has consciously acted consciously between the specialty of the daily food eaten at his birthplace and its entertainment elsewhere in the kitchen. Part travel stories, part personal history (Holland’s father was born in Nigeria, his grandmother in Nainital, his grandfather retired in Pattaya, Thailand), Part Literary Overview (food-related and other quotes from writers, Arundhati Roy in India, Orhan Pamuk in Turkey), Mario Vargas On Peru, etc.), The Edible Atlas tries to show how local cuisine has its place, how a dish has its ingredients and the geography, history, customs, local mood of the recipe: “Why do people eat as they do in different parts of the world.” Can’t wait to tell you when a particular meal or snack will define our memory of that moment.

However, in addition to this convenient guide to how to enjoy daily meals, thinking and informative (and always enjoyable), Holland includes a few food recipes from those countries (or in the case of exceptionally rich and varied food countries, India, Italy, France), China, etc. , Different regions of). You know ambition – you know you’ll never find a pretzel like that pretzel in the dhabas of Amritsar or in the beer gardens in Munich, but you’ll never give up trying to find it approximate.

If you read a book in Holland, you should be reminded that every food has a story. In a book for popular readers and with the permission of brief introductions, he finds various threads. For northern India, for example, the Grand Trunk Road provides a route from Kashmir through Punjab and UP to survey food in Bengal, changing the taste, ingredients and style of cooking to find a reflection of soil conditions. For Vietnam, the colonial background and its geographical location inform its hybrid cuisine, probably best covered in Ban Mi (the French baguette created “light and aerial” so that its thick crust retains locally available fillings). The food in the Veneto region of Italy became understandable by staying a bit in Venice’s place on the old trade route. The traditional ban on eating meat in Japan explains the curious table settings, “a soup, three sides” (i.e., a hearty soup, around which rice, pickles and a third vary). “We don’t cook for one, we cook for 10,” a Brazilian chef told Holland, highlighting the habit of cooking only in a large pan. Jamaica’s hybrid cuisine is certainly a reminder of its violent imperial past, but as Nobel laureate Derek Alcott calls, Holland says food is an aspect of Caribbean life that “dissolves the sigh of history”.

He could add that the ongoing effort to find locally replaceable ingredients for making food from elsewhere is also a way for us to create distance and dissolve barriers.

mini.kapoor@expressindia.com

The story was published in print under the title Food That Travels Well

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