Follow a food trail and you’ll find yourself crisscrossing oceans. Join M. F. K. Fisher Grand Prize for Excellence in Culinary Writing award-winning author Nina Mukerjee Furstenau 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.
About the Author
Nina Mukerjee Furstenau is author of Biting through the Skin: An Indian Kitchen in America’s Heartland (Iowa, 2013), winner of the 2014 M. F. K. Fisher Grand Prize for Excellence in Culinary Writing. She lives in Columbia, Missouri.
“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.”—Jayanta Sengupta, director, Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata, India
“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. Where some might see culinary theft or inauthenticity, Furstenau instead teases out complex connections within the commingling of flavors and cultures. 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
“Early on in Furstenau’s book, a sentence gave me pause: ‘We have tired soils.’ Given what you learn of her appreciation for the natural world, her pride and curiosity in all things food and culture, I could just as easily imagine myself reflecting on the state of the world and reading this as, ‘We have tired souls.’ But Furstenau also offers us a healing. Look around you, see who you are, where you come from, where you have made your home, and especially see, smell, taste, understand, and savor what you eat. 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 fishpond 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