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Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in Indiaby Madhur Jaffrey
Synopses & Reviews
Today's most highly regarded writer on Indian food gives us an enchanting memoir of her childhood in Delhi in an age and a society that has since disappeared.
Madhur (meaning "sweet as honey") Jaffrey grew up in a large family compound where her grandfather often presided over dinners at which forty or more members of his extended family would savor together the wonderfully flavorful dishes that were forever imprinted on Madhur's palate.
Climbing mango trees in the orchard, armed with a mixture of salt, pepper, ground chilies, and roasted cumin; picnicking in the Himalayan foothills on meatballs stuffed with raisins and mint and tucked into freshly baked pooris; sampling the heady flavors in the lunch boxes of Muslim friends; sneaking tastes of exotic street fare-these are the food memories Madhur Jaffrey draws on as a way of telling her story. Independent, sensitive, and ever curious, as a young girl she loved uncovering her family's many-layered history, and she was deeply affected by their personal trials and by the devastating consequences of Partition, which ripped their world apart.
Climbing the Mango Trees is both an enormously appealing account of an unusual childhood and a testament to the power of food to evoke memory. And, at the end, this treasure of a book contains a secret ingredient — more than thirty family recipes recovered from Madhur's childhood, which she now shares with us.
"The celebrated actress and author of several books on Indian cooking turns her attention to her own childhood in Delhi and Kampur. Born in 1933 as one of six children of a prosperous businessman, Jaffrey grew up as part of a huge 'joint family' of aunts, uncles and cousins — often 40 at dinner — under the benign but strict thumb of Babaji, her grandfather and imperious family patriarch. It was a privileged and cosmopolitan family, influenced by Hindu, Muslim and British traditions, and though these were not easy years in India, a British ally in WWII and soon to go though the agony of partition (the separation and formation of Muslim Pakistan), Jaffrey's graceful prose and sure powers of description paint a vivid landscape of an almost enchanted childhood. Her family and friends, the bittersweet sorrows of puberty, the sensual sounds and smells of the monsoon rain, all are remembered with love and care, but nowhere is her writing more evocative than when she details the food of her childhood, which she does often and at length. Upon finishing this splendid memoir, the reader will delight in the 30 'family-style' recipes included as lagniappe at the end. Photos." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] delicious tribute to a deeply rooted, multicultural upbringing. It ends somewhat abruptly with Jaffrey's departure for her British theatrical training, whetting our appetites for a sequel." Newsday
"Jaffrey's taste memories sparkle with enthusiasm, and her talent for conveying them makes the book relentlessly appetizing." New York Times
"Some of her most touching and distressing scenes come with the advent of India's independence and its partition. Jaffrey's friends and schoolmates had from the outset included both Hindu and Muslim, but religious and political strife soon sundered all relations." Booklist
"Readers will lap up this mouth-watering memoir and hungrily await a sequel." Kikrus Reviews
In a book that is both an appealing account of an unusual childhood and a testament to the power of food to evoke memory, a highly regarded writer on Indian food offers an enchanting memoir of her early life in Delhi, occurring during a time and within a society that has since disappeared. Includes a dozen family recipes. 37 photos in text.
About the Author
Madhur Jaffrey is the author of many previous cookbooks, including the classic An Invitation to Indian Cooking and Madhur Jaffrey's Taste of the Far East, which was voted Best International Cookbook and Book of the Year for 1993 by the James Beard Foundation. She is also an award-winning actress with numerous major motion pictures to her credit. She lives in New York City.
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