New Delhi–Nandita Haksar’s book ‘The Flavours of Nationalism: Recipes of Love, Hate and Friendship’ will receive the Book of the Year award at the LF Epicurean Guild Awards (LFEGA) 2020.
The ceremony will be held on February 7 at the ITC Grand Central, Mumbai.
“Nandita Haksar’s book made the cut on account of being pertinent to our times and above all, asking that uncomfortable question: How can a country that won’t eat together, stay united,” said a representative of LFEGA.
In this memoir, Haksar writes about how food shaped her awareness of politics, patriarchy, nationalism and socialism from her childhood during the Nehruvian era onwards.
She takes the readers on a thoughtful journey through India, from her Kashmiri Pandit family settled in Old Delhi and Lucknow, to human-rights activism on behalf of Nagas in Manipur; from grappling with feminist ideals, to considering the impact of a globalised food industry in Goa.
In the book, published by Speaking Tiger, she explains how our tastes and attitudes to food are shaped by caste, race, gender and class, exposing latent prejudices and bigotry.
Haksar explores questions posed by food anthropologists and ecologists, and revisits debates between B.R. Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi on inter-dining. She also addresses the present controversies over beef eating, vegetarianism and ideas of Hindu vs Muslim food, in a milieu where debate is silenced.
It has wry accounts of sharing meals with Burmese and Iraqi refugees and arguing about bourgeois vs proletarian tea in the Naxalite movement.
The book also contains memorable recipes from the many people she has eaten with. At heart is her question that if Indians cannot imagine sitting with each other and sharing food with a sense of equality and respect, how then can a national unity be built?
Haksar is a human rights lawyer, teacher, campaigner and writer. Her other books include ‘Nagaland File: A Question of Human Rights’ (1984, co-edited with Luingam Luithui), ‘Who Are the Nagas’ (2011) and ‘ABC of Naga Culture and Civilization: A Resource Book’ (2011), among others.
She lives in Goa, Delhi and sometimes Ukhrul in Manipur, with her husband Sebastian Hongray. (IANS)