The Hour of the Goddess
Memories of Women, Food and Ritual in Bengal
6.25 x 9.75 inches, 123pp, 26 halftones. 2001
ISBN : 9788170461838
Rs 475.00 (HB)
Food and cuisine are not just incidental to Bengal; they are essential to the Bengali’s mental and cultural landscape. Like in agricultural communities the world over, food and ritual, food and social custom, food and culture, are deeply imbricated. Women’s lives are closely bound with the production and preparation of food. This unusual book weaves a warm, evocative tapestry out of memories of food, ritual and women’s lives in Bengal. In the skilful hands of the author, who writes of growing up from girlhood to womanhood in her native land, food and ritual become intimate experiences which definitively shape day-to-day life for the women of that culture. As memories of food preparation take shape, recalling associations of taste, smell and texture, a parallel thread of social commentary calls forth sharp observations; for example, how certain foods are ‘forbidden’ and what Bengali widows cannot eat. Eminently readable, this volume combines rigorous research into food and cultural history, social critique, and the immediacy and intimacy of memoir.
Chitrita Banerji grew up in Calcutta but now lives in Cambridge, Mass. She is the author of Life and Food in Bengal (London, 1991) and Bengali Cooking: Seasons and Festivals (London, 1997), as well as of numerous articles in The Boston Globe, Granta(London), Grastronomica (Berkely), The Phoenix (Boston), Boston Magazine, Calyx (Corvallis, Oreg.), and Petits Propos Culinaires (London). She has presented papers and received awards at the prestigious Oxford Food Symposium.