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Customer Review

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice and different, 27 April 2012
This review is from: Bengali Cooking: Seasons and Festivals (Paperback)
Many people have a problem differentiating between the different countries whose foods can be categorised as Asian or South-East Asian cuisine, so Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian and Nepali food can be effectively combined, save for a few noticeable differences like "curry" versus "sweet and sour sauce". Yet even those who can differentiate between Chinese and Indian dishes often forget that there are tremendous differences between the various regions and near-lying countries.

This book can help change some misconceptions for Indian foods, by helping to highlight typical Bengal dishes, their seasons, festivals and traditions. Confusion can also arise with what and where Bengal is as many people will just assume it is part of India, yet they do not appreciate that it is an area mainly divided between the People's Republic of Bangladesh (previously East Bengal/East Pakistan) and the Indian state of West Bengal. And even within this region there can be a number of differences!
Whilst this is not a recipe book per se, it does contain some recipes that form part of the overall meaning of the book. This is more of a deeper appreciation of Bengali cooking through the wider eyes of culture and tradition. The book is broken down into the different seasons and one can see how, whilst foodstuffs can remain constant, there can be seasonal varieties and, of course, many special holidays and important days in the Bengali calendar.
The book is packed full of information written in a narrative style. You have to keep your eyes open and brain engaged otherwise a lot of information will just swoosh by -- you will be culturally richer by focussing on the information and it will help correct many misunderstandings and educate you on things you might have vaguely heard of or names of things that you recognise from other contexts.
This is no dry educational tome either, despite it providing much educational material. It is a pleasurable, if not intense read, on a very interesting style or type of cuisine in an area that is often overshadowed by greater India. Despite that... many people think they are eating "Indian" food whilst at an Indian restaurant when, in fact, it is more Bengali in style and origin and often cooked by people from Bangladesh.
An enjoyable read and something that will form a part of many reference shelves.
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