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.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

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."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

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