Notes from the kitchen

Updated: 21 November, 2020 09:17 IST | Sukanya Datta | Mumbai

A webinar and workshop will teach you how to chronicle recipes and the stories behind them

How to make a good halwa? The answer to the question lies not just in a carefully measured recipe that Pune-based novelist Gouri Dange learnt from an acquaintance, but also in the timeless memories it stirs up. "The recipe is by the woman's grandmother-in-law, whose husband served in the British Army during World War II. She would hear from him once in a few months. When she did, even if the letter was a few months old, she would dig out some hidden ration and make this chitthi ali halwa," narrates Dange, adding, "And that's what makes it special. The story is bigger than the recipe!" The cookbook as the means to chronicle a way of life, as a memoir, or even as a tribute to everyday ingredients with extraordinary stories, is what Dange will highlight this weekend in a webinar, as she dishes out the recipe to write one's own.

Organised by Living Bridge, Kitchen Tales Webinar: Writing Cookbook Chronicles is a precursor to an upcoming workshop that the columnist will host in December. Having written extensively about food and edited cookbooks, Dange believes that the first step is to zero in on the theme and purpose. It's better to have a niche cookbook that has a personal connect than a general theme, she says. "We'll explore several ideas such as putting together a dozen of ajji's (Marathi: grandmother) sparkling recipes on her birthday, or the way Army wives whip up dishes with limited ration, or focusing on ingredients. For instance, a participant wants to focus on leafy vegetables as she's fascinated by the 19 kinds of herbs and saags she sees in the market daily and how the sabziwala tells the customers how to cook them," she explains.

Notes from the kitchen

To underline the fact that cookbooks are a peek into something more than just food, she tells us about a booklet she once edited for a mother-and-son duo residing abroad. "The purpose behind the cookbook was to see to it that young Jains in the US stick to their tradition. They included little anecdotes that made the book non-preachy and logical. In this way, it captured a way of life," she illustrates.

As we live in an age of Instagram stories and blogs, the webinar and workshop will also cater to non-book formats of documenting food. Participants will discuss how to weave anecdotes with recipes, identify formats, delve into design ideas and take part in a writing exercise. "The exercise will be like a prompt. For example, participants can start off by writing the theme as they envision it on the back of the book, or the contents page, or just scribble some keywords," she shares. So, if you're thinking of compiling those lockdown kitchen notes, this webinar might be a good place to start rolling.

On Today (webinar), 10 am; December 4, 5 and 6, 6 pm to 9 pm (workshop)
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Cost Rs 400 (webinar); Rs 2,250 (workshop)

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First Published: 21 November, 2020 09:10 IST

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