Food is Memory. Food is Culture.

Due to the complexities of global supply issues amid the COVID19 pandemic, one strange casualty has been a backlog of cookbooks.

Where does this rank amid a deadly, mutating airborne viral pandemic? Pretty low. But for the housebound and the obsessed, cookbooks have been what keeps many of us sane—pandemic or not.

It seems that by the fall of 2021, a fair amount of those storage containers bobbing and weaving around the Los Angeles port were, in fact, filled with cookbooks.

Why was it cookbooks and not, say, mysteries? 

Well, to take away mysteries? That would have added to the crisis mercilessly. Nothing beats ignoring your own mortality by contemplating the grizzly death of another. And so, this little blessing was provided: let the people read Q is for Quantum Bodies Can’t Quit Death, or whatever. 

Sadly, guns and luxury handbags always seem to make it ashore. But our cookbooks were held up.

The real reason so many cookbooks got waylaid is the printing methods that cookbooks (and art books) require. They are expensive full-color runs and so nearly always printed outside of North America, mainly in China. And soon, they just bobbed in the waves. 

The LA port opened around the clock 24/7 to help with the backlog, so cookbooks should hopefully now all be set free. 

All this to say, I’m impatiently waiting for cookbooks to arrive that were released months ago. One that I’m desperate for is en route from Harper Collins India, Bene Appetit: The Cuisine of Indian Jews, so it’s actually not a supply issue but more a media department snafu. I’m determined to wait for their copy to arrive, although this book was released in April 2021. 

For all of you looking to add more Indian Jewish cookbooks to your library, the delightful Esther David’s  Bene Appetit: The Cuisine of Indian Jews will make an excellent addition to your library. Or, at least, I think it will. 

Hold the line, caller… I’ll be there with you soon. 

“Food is memory. Food is culture. Food bonds families and communities. It fades into childhood reminiscences and the nooks and corners of the past. Food is also part of our childhood. When a community decreases in number, its traditional food becomes a memory.”

David, Esther. Bene Appetit: The Cuisine of Indian Jews.Uttar Pradesh: HarperCollins India, 2021.