July 2017 By Melissa Nazareth Shared Tables: FamilyStories and Recipes fromPoona to LABy Kaumudi MarathéSpeaking Tiger` 450, pages 302 ‘Shared Tables’ is the heartwarming story of Kaumudi Marathé, a journalist, chef and teacher living in LA. Founder of ‘Un-Curry’, the first Indian cooking school in the USA, Kaumudi embarked upon a mission to redefine Indian food to the world, especially the West where it is often unjustly narrowed down to ‘curry’. In this book, she explores her Konkanastha and Saraswat roots, and relives her experiences with beautiful people and diverse cultures, all of which have deeply influenced her personality and career in the culinary arts. Kaumudi’s picturesque description of the many ‘shared tables’ with friends and family appealed to the foodie in me. Born in a close-knit family, she had access to the treasure trove of Maharashtrian delights from her grandmothers’, aunts’ and mother’s kitchens. She has introduced many to these simple yet gratifying family recipes she has collected over the years. For instance, Kaumudi served her paternal grandmother’s ‘santosh’ or tomato and coconut soup at a lunch event catered by Un-Curry. Reading about the author’s forward thinking yet grounded up-bringing is truly inspiring. Kaumudi grew up surrounded by intellectually inclined family members who always encouraged qualities like having a questioning mind, working hard to achieve your goals, having a connection with your homeland and many more. I particularly liked the story about how Kaumudi kept getting pulled up at school for not wearing well-polished shoes. Their teacher insisted that students polish their shoes with Cherry Blossom liquid polish. Despite repeated requests by Kaumudi, her mother refused to switch brands and kept buying a less expensive cake form of polish because they couldn’t afford Cherry Blossom at the time. In retrospect, a grateful Kaumudi realises that though her parents occasionally seemed harsh, they taught her to be herself and not just do things because everyone else was doing them. It is interesting to read Kaumudi’s experience as a journalist in Mumbai. Starting as a cub reporter, she grew both professionally and personally, brushing shoulders with eminent names like Mother Theresa and Amitabh Bachchan among others. She even had the opportunity to work alongside accomplished people and for top publications which further enriched her. Most of her anecdotes strike a chord, offering flashbacks aplenty from our own lives. The delicious recipes at the end of the book allow you to taste a slice of the author’s best memories, leaving a part of her with you long after you’ve over the last page. An effortless yet compelling narrative garnished with the right amount of humour, pain, confusion and ambition makes ‘Shared Tables’ a pleasurableread.
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