G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Monday, May 12, 2008

Does 133 Years Old Tradition of Recipe Books in Marathi Encourage Cooking?

For Lalit ललित April 2008, Sharad Gogte शरद गोगटे has written a delightful essay on a long history of cookery books in Marathi.

I am fond of food. More accurately talking about food as my metabolism- after years of abuse- gradually falls apart!

In English, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto has done some of the best writing on the history of food.

“…We think thin and we get fat…Mealtimes are our oldest rituals. The companionable effects of eating together help to make us human. The little links which bind households together are forged at the table. The stability of our homes probably depends more on regular mealtimes than on sexual fidelity or filial piety. Now it is in danger. Food is being desocialised. The demise of mealtimes means unstructured days and undisciplined appetites.

The loneliness of the fast-food eater is uncivilising…

…The raw food movement is not a healthy alternative..The raw movement is not a solution, but part of the threat, dividing families by taste and diet…

…So the family mealtime looks irretrievably dead. The future, however, usually turns out to be surprisingly like the past. We are in a blip, not a trend. Cooking will revive, because it is inseparable from humanity: a future without it is impossible. Communal feeding is essential to social life: we shall come to value it more highly in awareness of the present threat. There is bound to be a reaction in favour of traditional eating habits, as nostalgia turns into fashion and evidence builds up of the deleterious effects of snacking…

…We seem incapable of socialising without food. Among people who like to enjoy other's company, every meal is a love feast. We eat to commune with our gods. The discreetly lit table is our favourite romantic rendezvous. At state banquets, diplomatic alliances are forged. Deals are done at business lunches. Family reunions still take place at mealtimes. Home is a place which smells of cooking. If we want relationships that work, we shall get back to eating together. Along the way, we shall conquer obesity: if we stop grazing, we shall stop gorging. “ (September 14, 2002 The Guardian)

I have enjoyed Jaywant Dalwi’s जयवंत दळवी writing on food in Marathi more than pornography.

First Marathi book on the subject of cooking was published in 1875: soopshastra सूपशास्त्र by Ramchandra Sakharam Gupte रामचंद्र सखाराम गुप्ते publisher Raoji Shridhar Gondhalekar रावजी श्रीधर गोंधळेकर price Rs. 1/25. Over next fifty years six more editions of the book came out. Price remained unchanged.

(सूप “soop” is a Sanskrit word meaning a kind of curry or an accompaniment in an Indian meal.)

The book has 107 recipes. For our kitchen quite a few of them-like कोरफङीचा मुरंबा (jam of aloe vera)- are now extinct.

During the period 1888-1890, a ‘recipedia’ titled “soopshastra” सूपशास्त्र by Ramkrushna Salunkerao रामकृष्ण साळुंकेराव, 4 volumes, 06 books, 2500 pages was published. It had recipes from many parts of India and the world. (2500 pages must be a kind of world record that still stands!)

As this long history suggests, do middle class Maharashtrians enjoy cooking?

I cannot resist temptation to paraphrase The Economist:...As porn is to sex, so the recipe books are to cooking. The more people read, the less they do it.

"soopshastra" सूपशास्त्र by Ramchandra Sakharam Gupte रामचंद्र सखाराम गुप्ते

They could be talking about कोरफङीचा मुरंबा (jam of aloe vera) as well:

Artist: Peter C Vey The New Yorker 30 November 1998