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Why I Cannot Write about Food

A reflection on a lifelong fraught relationship with food reveals the effect it can have on one’s sense of self.

Sometimes, things work in piquant ways, prodding to the surface matters long submerged. The past then looks very different. One day, an editor I loved working with vanished into the ether of cyberspace. After a long time of no emails, and no trail that even Google could dig up, I learnt that he was involved with something altogether different, something close to his heart: a new online directory of food—an encyclopaedia of recipes, complete with their history and details of preparation. I was happy to have found him at last, but this was a space to which I could neither contribute nor belong.

I felt a similar loss as a member of a popular Facebook group about old recipes from Bengal. I could add little to the informed, nuanced discussions about ingredients, what could be substituted for another, or even the regional variations of how a favourite food was prepared. When friends shared photos of wonderful things they had cooked, I only performed the mandatory “like” on their posts. When friends spoke of trying out different cuisines every time they visited a new place, I followed the conversation with interest, but was never a part of it. It made me feel inadequate, as if I lacked the necessary social skills. Food, in fact, had always made me feel inadequate.

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Updated On : 28th Jan, 2020

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