Lit for Life

It’s all in the globe

A week of shopping followed by a marathon cooking session on Friday evening. Sometimes, it’s just for family; occasionally, friends walk in for a multi-course meal prepared with love, and lessons in food history. When ‘bloodhound journalist and rockstar historian’ Mark Kurlansky speaks, you listen. When he’s joined by his partner in cooking, XI grader-daughter Talia, in a session moderated by Pankaja Srinivasan, you focus a little more to know about the unlikely work relationship and the importance of a globe in their lives.

World matters

Talia: It all began as a game, before it turned into this project. The globe would be spun and I’ll have to place my finger anywhere. It took a long time for India to come in, though.

Mark: We decided to never repeat a country. But, the finger kept going back to Kazakhstan (laughs). And, I realise that we are yet to do South Africa.

Terrible three

Greenland shark in Iceland: Fish is buried in the sand, and eaten later. I believe that if something looks and smells and tastes rotten, why do we think it is not?

The Philippines: An egg with the foetus of a duck.

Tibet: Tea with rancid yak butter.

Guiding principle

Mark: When you restrict your writing to just the taste of food, you’re limiting its vision. But serve it up with some history and it tells you about society.

The juice of life

In the 1980s, pineapple juice almost saved my life. A bunch of journalists was travelling in a convoy in Nicaragua when we stopped behind enemy lines to sample pineapple juice. A man peeled and made the juice in a press, one fruit to a tumbler. It was the best I’d drunk. When we were through, we realised we were alone and the convoy had moved on. We finally made our way back, when guards asked us to pull over at a checkpost. When we told them about the juice, they let us pass through.

Pet peeve

Talia: I hate the idea of kids meals. I have an issue with people giving children something bland; they must be allowed to eat sophisticated dishes. Food is an art, why reduce it?


Mark: I write a book last; I acquaint myself with what I’m writing beforehand. It also helps you sift the real story from in between many others.

The tale of the missing tiramisu

Once, the Kurlanskys were travelling, and a house guest was at home. There was a delicious tiramisu in the refrigerator, frozen to last till they came. Upon their return, they saw one sliver left. Moral: Never leave anyone home with tiramisu.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2021 3:02:34 AM |

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