The Writer's Feast: Food and the Cultures of Representation
Supriya Chaudhuri and Rimi B. Chatterjee (Eds.)
140 x 216 mm
Year of Publishing
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Orient BlackSwan
  • Sharing food, eating salt, breaking bread, raising a toast, picnics in the wild, formal dinners—all have certain ideological, political and social significances. Some foods are taboo, whereas others endow the eater with purity. The means of preparing or processing food in different cultures each symbolise something.
  • The Writer’s Feast is a collection of essays that discuss the various symbolic representations associated with food.
  • The essays in this volume show how food is a system of signs through which human societies give meanings to the material world they inhabit.
  • The book is divided into four thematic sections.
  • The first section eating cultures looks at social practices and systems relating to food and its consumption.
  • The second section gendering food, focuses on the gender implications of cooking and serving food.
  • In the third section, migrancy, diaspora and the cosmopolitan gourmet, the overwhelming importance of the symbolic function of food is discussed in immigrant narratives, as cuisine comes to be associated with the lost or abandoned homeland of the refugee or migrant.
  • The last section of this book, the body and its limits, looks into the implications of excessive appetites on the human body and what drives them. It also speaks of healthy eating practices. By way of contrast, it also examines what happens to human beings, their bodies when driven to the limit by extreme physical conditions or by famine and want.
  • The Contributors featuring in this book are scholars from all over the world.

Supriya Chaudhuri is Professor and Co-ordinator of the Centre of Advanced Study in the Department of English, Jadavpur University, Kolkata.

Rimi B. Chatterjee teaches English at Jadavpur University, India. Her academic book Empires of the Mind (OUP India, 2006), won the SHARP de Long Book Prize for that year.

Introduction: Food and the Cultures of Representation
Supriya Chaudhuri
1. Good Food Culture in India: A Variety of Flavours
Sheila Lahiri Choudhury
2. Vegetarian or Non-vegetarian, Traditional or Modern:
Food as a Marker of Identity
Mohammad Asim Siddiqui
3. The Garden of Bombahia: Garcia da Orta and the Spice
Race in the Early Modern Period
Rimi B. Chatterjee
4. Maccheroni, Pizza, Pastasciutta: A Journey to the Border
of the Land of Plenty
Lorenzo Pavolini
5. Writing the Culinary in Early Twentieth-
Century Malayalam
Sharmila Sreekumar
6. Finding Pleasure in the Culinary Memoir:
Cultivating Appetites for Food, Identity and Sex
Murray Couch
7. Fasting, Feasting: Food, Consumption and the
Politics of Power
Arpana Nath and Rohini Mokashi-Punekar
8. Meats, Sweets, Sardines, and Society: Gender Roles
in Food Production and Consumption in William
Faulkner’s Novels
Katherine Rawson
9. Lost Land, Remembered Flavours
Suchandra Chakravarty
10. The Representation of Fish in Jhumpa Lahiri’s
‘Mrs Sen’s’: A Study in Exile
Kalyan Chatterjee
11. The Migrant’s Feast: Food Motifs and Metaphors in
Ray, Rushdie and Desai
Nayana Chakrabarti
12. Culinary Cosmopolitanism in Melbourne, Australia
Tammi Jonas
13. Debility, Diet, Desire: Food in Nineteenth and Early
Twentieth Century Bengali Manuals
Rohan Deb Roy
14. Food and Literature of the Himalayan Heights
Amrita Dhar
15. Hunger: Some Representations of the 1943
Bengal Famine
Supriya Chaudhuri


‘The joy of cooking has always included the joy of reading about food. Now The Writer’s Feast offers us a banquet of essays, a menu of migrations: the geographical and cultural movements of ingredients, cuisines, habits and representations of the foods we eat and the ways we eat them, think about them, and use them to enrich our bodies, our imaginations, and our lives.’

- Professor Ruth Morse, University of Paris VII, Denis Diderot

‘… a delicious ensemble of various treatments of food, and cultural and natural phenomena around it …  this volume fills a large gap in our critical engagement with literary texts. The Writer’s Feast is a feast not only for the academic analyst, but will please the palate of all who have a taste for an informed engagement with cultural phenomena. ... an excellent volume of critical engagements.’

- Professor Aniket Jaaware, University of Pune

‘This is a timely and important collection of essays that makes a significant contribution to the emerging field of food and culture.  As a whole, the volume creatively rethinks the social, symbolic and political meanings of food across a broad sweep of aesthetic and cultural contexts.’

- Professor Modhumita Roy, Tufts University, Boston

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