The Philosophy of Curry
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Is curry a word "that dumbs down a hugely complex and varied cuisine into one catch-all term that doesn't reflect regional diversity"? What about curries from outside India?
Writing under the imprimatur of the British Library, food journalist Sejal Sukhadwala explores the history and meaning of curry. She addresses its linguistic roots and the presence of curry-like dishes in ancient literature to the differences in its meaning according to religion, sect, caste, and ethnic group and the way colonialism shaped the use and spread of the word.
This is a heavy burden for a 106-page book to bear, but Sukhadwala deftly incorporates citation after citation, from the Mahabarata to seventeenth-century British clerics to Madhur Jaffrey. More could certainly be written about many of the issues she explores, but there is a useful bibliography for anyone interested in further exploration.
It's unlikely that Sukhadwala will cause a significant shift in the way the word is used—and unclear that she even seeks to. But anyone who has wondered about curry and its cultural and historical baggage will find this a revealing and nimble survey.
Hardcover. Line illustrations. Photographs.