Mumbai Food: Pop-up in Parel to serve menu inspired by Haruki Murakami
An upcoming pop-up will serve up a menu inspired by the author and his musings
In the worlds woven in Haruki Murakami's novels, fish fall from the sky, cats disappear, and two moons rise in the sky. Just like that. In the very same books, characters go about their mundane routines cooking spaghetti, eating eggs and singing songs.
A food writer from Mumbai and a chef from Mangalore have put their heads together to create a pop-up menu inspired by the books, titled Murakami's Kitchen Table by The Literary Table. Meet Shirin Mehrotra, who runs a blog, Will Travel For Food, and Shriya Shetty, who has interned with Kelvin Cheung at Ellipsis and Gaggan Anand in Bangkok.
Think an aglio olio style Udon with a pour of Cutty Sark from Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. "This was the toughest concept I have ever worked on. In my menu, I have tried to add elements that have been mentioned repeatedly across his books — there are these instances where people like eating omelettes, noodles and seafood. Instead of picking dishes from the texts, I have taken inspiration from imagery as well," says Shetty.
For example, Shetty was moved by a setting in Norwegian Wood where Toru describes going on a walk with Naoko. The imagery is of birds, wet grass and a bottomless well. "I have created a balsamic pomegranate reduction depicting the dark well, grass of greens like pak choy and lettuce, and bell peppers for red birds. The liquid is dark as in the text, you can't see the base, and if you fall into it, you are lost forever. I am doing a lemon mist. This is an attempt to take the eater into the scene," she says.
Potter heads up
The duo's first pop-up was inspired by Harry Potter characters last month. A black taco with black garlic prawns and a charcoal khuboos represented Sirius Black, while The Deathly Hallows was a sour dough with dulce de leche. "Because the starter of the dough grows stronger with time and is resurrected by adding more flour and water, and the air is like the invisible cloak that makes it stronger," their Instagram handle, @theliterarytales explains.
The germ of this literary-inpsired idea took shape in 2016, when Mehrotra posted her version of Felix Felicis potion and posted it on her blog. Her dark rum-based potion spiked with jaggery and cinnamon went viral, after which she made the potato pie inspired by the historical novel, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. "A friend suggested the idea of a pop-up but I was not confident as I am not a professional cook. I sat on the idea for two years, until I met Shriya," she smiles.
Shetty, on the other hand, had already done a Game of Thrones inspired pop-up back in Mangalore. Over WhatsApp calls and video chats, the two created their menu inspired by Harry Potter characters.
Coming up next
"If I had to do a flavour profile of Murakami, it would be ingredients that never go together, but do. There is an apt dish in his book, Hear The Wind Sing, where he mixes canned peaches with pancakes and coke. It's ultra-crazy," 24-year-old chef Shetty quips, explaining her version of the dish — buttermilk biscuits, Coca-Cola-braised chicken, pickled peaches and a side of chilled Coke to be poured over the dish. Mehrotra reads out two lines of a song Modori sings to Toru Watanbe in Norwegian Wood (1987): "I'd love to cook a stew for you But I have no pot."
This reference turns into udon in clam broth with shitake, fried spinach, roasted tomato and chilli paste.
And while you eat Murakami's words, sip on Cutty Sark whiskey mentioned in Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, and hear jazz band Ink of Bard perform a 40-minute set of covers from Murakami's playlist.
On: July 21, 7.30 pm onwards
At: Savor Kitchen, Jagannath Bhatankar Marg, Parel bus depot, Dighe Nagar, Parel.
Log on to: www.instamojo.com/theliterarytable/murakamis-kitchen-table
Cost: Rs 3,800
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