Not For You
denial & comfort foods, a family memoir
After two crowdfunded cookbooks, I am writing a family memoir: called
'Not For You: Denial & Comfort Foods'.
I grew up in India and come from a family heritage of inter-caste and inter-faith marriages, some starting as far back as my grandparents. My paternal grandparents' Hindu-Jewish marriage caused social exclusion in the 1920's. They struggled with family acceptance and made unconventional choices for themselves and their children. As the family grew, children became older and made choices of their own. Contrary to their own experience, this pattern of exclusion perpetuated. As time progressed, meals became a way to sometimes bridge the contentious relationships, where food held more value than nutrition.
Through Not For You: Denial and Comfort Foods I will share the story of three generations whose lives were shaped by social customs, personal choices and exclusion. Embedded within are stories of how food shaped their relationships. Learning from adversity, the memoir concludes with the story of one generation whose fortitude and perseverance fueled their entrepreneurial spirit to raise them to unimaginable heights.
A century after the story begins, my generation, the generation of grandchildren, are mostly scattered. Some of this exclusionary baggage continues. I am hopeful that mine was the last generation that experiences this.
My daughter is born and raised in America and at a young age of 13, she experiences the taunts of exclusion - both in India and the US. If it continues, I feel she will grow up with only a ghostly shadow of an identity, because she is kept out.
I write from an immigrant perspective, as a woman looking to raise her daughter in an inclusive environment - a popular, recognizable notion about the citizens of the United States. And yet, when I learn of the disconnect, I wonder how much is real, how much is imagined.
When I read essays about finding identities, I realized there so much to be said of not just of finding your own identity, but also developing one that is fostered by the love of the people around you, navigating through the layers of religion, class, culture and perception without losing sight of your self.
Many of my cookbook readers come from mixed families, who have migrated a few countries and are searching for a way to erase the disconnect between culture and identity through food... only adding fuel to the fire on the conversation about 'authenticity'.
So, what is authentic, afterall?