Skip to main content

A Taste of Home

After lunch, three authors who have written extensively about food sat down together onstage to talk about food and their books on food.

The moderator was Mita Kapur who launched her book The F-Word in Lit Out Loud, the first Manila International Literary Festival held last year. Her literary agency Siyahi is the principal organizer of Mountain Echoes.

Kunzang Choden spoke of the food of Bumthang, Central Bhutan. In her book, Chili and Cheese: Food and Society in Bhutan, she combines the history and culture of Bhutan with traditional recipes and her own experience of growing up in Bumthang. She told of how, when she was a child, she would go into the blue pine forests with her family and friends where they would cut off the bark of the trees and eat the white, jelly-like sap just underneath the bark. She said it was sweet, like sugar.

Nowadays the government has prohibited collecting the sap because stripping the bark kills the trees so this "taste of home" remains simply a memory for Kunzang and a story for younger Bhutanese. Aside from memories, Kunzang also spoke of how different food used to come with seasons and with stories of the places they came from. She said that "as an old woman" (many in the room disagreed with her on her being "old"), she couldn't help but feel nostalgia for the days when you waited for summer to eat apples, or when eating a strip of dried meat in the winter "you could almost taste the sun."

Pushpesh Pant's position was that, "A taste of home is more than just cuisine. A taste of home is about a whole milieu," which, he said, includes memories of failed dishes because mother and father quarreled while mother was cooking, or memories of special dishes prepared with ingredients brought by cousins visiting from other regions in India. For him, however, when talking about food and a taste of home, "home" was not just one place and "taste" was not just about food. He spoke of an upbringing and a life that brought him to live and eat in many parts of India and the world and how all those places that certain ingredients came from became part of home when put together into one dish. He also said that for him taste is like a DNA we inherit from our families, but also it is about proscriptions, prescriptions, social class, sex, and rebellion.

Buddhist Peace Recipes and Hindu Soul Recipes, two cookbooks by Pushpesh Pant. Coming soon to Mt Cloud Bookshop.

Listening to these authors talk about food with such passion, I thought how lucky I am to come from a family and to be with a man for whom eating together is a simple yet important act of love. It makes the food we share taste better, no matter how ordinary it might be.


Popular posts from this blog

Lola of Maipon

It's all too easy to fall asleep under the blanket of everyday life and to smother dreams with the mundane things I surround myself with. But once in a while, along comes a sparkling vision that jolts me out of my daily sleep and reminds me of the existence of convictions and worlds so different from my own. "Our beloved LOLA of Guinubatan, Maipon, Albay is the last true messenger of God. So, let us follow her holy teachings so that we will gain TRUE SALVATION without sufferings and without death." In another story I, the intrepid heroine, the adventurer seduced by mysteries, the pilgrim in search of truth, would follow them back to Guinubatan from Session Road, thirsting to see and hear their Lola for myself. However, it's all too easy -- much safer! -- to fall back asleep under the blanket of everyday life, and to smother dreams with the mundane things I surround myself with. Then along comes 9 a.m., and really, it's time to down the dregs of coffee at the bott

Cordillera Folktales and Story-telling

It was cold and wet outside on the day of the launching of The Golden Arrow of Mt. Makilkilang and other Cordillera Folktales . But inside Mt. Cloud Bookshop we were warmed by stories read and performed by the Aanak di Kabiligan community theater group. Storytelling on a stormy afternoon. Paco Paco. A Benguet story from the book, published by the Cordillera Green Network. Aanak di Kabiligan means children of the mountains. The theater group was born out of the Cordillera Green Network's eleven years of conducting workshops in which children transform their grandparents' stories into theater productions. Here they perform the title story of the Golden Arrow of Mt. Makilkilang and Other Cordillera Folktales.

Birds of Baguio and Benguet

The Little Boss and I went to see the Birds of Baguio and Benguet Photo Exhibit at the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary . I carried her so she could see them up close and she pointed to each and every photo demanding, "What's that? What about that? What about this one?" I dutifully read out the name of every single bird featured in the exhibit: Scale-feathered Malkoha, Luzon Sunbird, Citrine Canary Flycatcher, and so on.We discussed the colors of their feathers and the shapes of their beaks. Some of the birds were already familiar to her. The crow and the shrike are frequent visitors in our garden. Shrike in the hands of the Artist-in-Residence, with the Little Boss' first hesitant touch. Taken October 2013. Once a young shrike in flight crashed into our picture window and lay on the ground, stunned. The Little Boss and the Artist-in-Residence held it lovingly in their hands and as soon as it pushed against their palms they gently released it. That was The Littl