Rambutan: Recipes from Sri Lanka
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Cynthia Shanmugalingam's frank, bold voice is everywhere in this book as she enriches her recipes with stories of cultural confusion and kitchen disconnection.
As she writes, "Rambutan is the story of an immigrant kid in England trying to cook her way out of the profound sense of loss about the place her parents called home." It's a cookbook and a story in which she gets withering looks because she cannot pick out a proper pumpkin and is told "cook it until it's cooked" when she asks for instructions.
Rambutan is a great choice for those who like stories with their recipes. Shanmugalingam begins nearly every recipe with a discussion of how important an ingredient is to Sri Lankan cooking, of a cultural hero who was also a great cook, or a linguistic aside about a dish's name. For those of us who did not grow up immersed in Sri Lankan culinary culture, it's eye-opening and entertaining.
The photography throughout the book is vivid, whether it is showcasing a parsley and fresh line sambol or a turmeric and coconut fish curry. Candid family photographs, shots of street vendors, and countryside vistas all add to the atmosphere that Shanmugalingam creates with her writing.
Hardcover. Color photographs throughout.