Excursions Of A Bibliophile

What are u reading these days?

The Pedant in the Kitchen – Julian Barnes

Posted by Vish Mangalapalli on June 27, 2009

The intimate influence of conscientious cookery promotes the serenity of mind, the graciousness of thought, and that indulgent view of our neigbour’s failings which is the only genuine form of optimism. Those are its titles to our reverence – Joseph Conrad

A client of mine once invited me for lunch and prepared the whole meal himself in front of me. It was the most delicious vegetarian chinese meal I have ever had – light, tasty and make me wanting more. He was highly placed in his organisation and a busy person and never gave a hint of his gastronomic leanings. I was not prepared for this display of competence in his culinary skills. So the next day when I asked him how he could manage it so well, his response was that he found cooking therapeutic and looks forward to cooking once in a while. I missed the “once in a while” aspect of the message. So when I suggested the innate therapeutic merits of cooking to my wife in front of her co-sisters, the angry glares I got in return could have charred any living being to death. One activity and two divergent reactions. So why does cooking evoke such extreme reactions ranging from instilling a belief in ability to heal to the frustration of drudgery? What is the transformational trajectory of a rookie cook to one who can whip dishes and regale guests? What are the troubles of interpreting a cookery book? What are the insecurities of a budding cook? These are some of the aspects that Julian Barnes deals with in his superbly entertaining book “The Pedant in the Kitchen

Written as a short collection of his thoughts on cooking and the activities that surrounding it, Barnes brings his awesome observation powers, wit and verve to the writing and in the process makes the book a top class entertainer. On the way Barnes provides us glimpses of his own growth into an acceptable cook along with humorous reflections (Cooking is the transformation of uncertainty (the recipe) into certainity (the dish) via fuss) and commentary on literary styles in cookery books

The disappointing aspect of this book is that it is very short and by the time one begins to settle into the rhythm of the book, it comes to an end

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