Eat My Globe: One Man’s Search for the Best Food in the World, Simon Majumdar, Hachette, Pp 278, Rs 295.00 (PB)
SIMON Majumdar, the author of this unusual topic, is a ‘foodie’ with a culinary obsession and his mission in life is to eat the best food in the world. His world is “where food is everything, but the right order of the family hierarchy comes first.”
Even as a child, not only he, even his family with older sister Auriel and younger brother Jeremy were obsessed with what they ate. Food was not just fuel to feed the plump bodies of the Majumdar clan, “it was the very essence of who we were and indeed are and that has remained the focus of our every waking moment and every conversation. At breakfast the entire family would sit and discuss what was for lunch, at lunch what was for supper and at supper, what we had eaten for lunch and breakfast. This would be followed by comparisons with various breakfasts, lunches, suppers and fond and wistful remembrances of breakfasts, lunches and suppers past.” In such a home, it was not uncommon “for any of us to be slumped on a sofa and suddenly cry out unprompted, ‘Those sausages were nice’ and the rest would nod in enthusiastic agreement, even if the said sausage had formed part of a meal over a week ago.”
In his student days too it was the same. The author studied theology and when researching he was given a stipend of 600 pounds and what did he do with the cheque? It was supposed to last 10 weeks but he blew it up in 10 days with gay abandon in Indian restaurants and steak houses of south London and in the Turkish okabassi and Cypriot pastry shops of Green Lanes. On his 21st birthday, he was given 100 pounds which he spent on cognac and a meal comprising “tortellini in mushroom cream sauce, poussin flamed in cognac and served with rosemary and soft, melting chestnuts, followed by frothy zabaglione made at the table by a waiter with a loud waistcoat and a liberal hand with the marsala wine. It was all washed down with any number of bottles of Valpolicella and my first taste of a complimentary rough grappa, the taste of which I can, if I close my eyes, still remember.” This was 23 years ago.
In the entire book, the author relates his world tour in search of the ultimate in food. He experiences the Cashel Blue, a cheese in Ireland, the crunchy and delicious Vietnamese sandwich called bahn-mi in Sydney’s (Australia) impressive China town, before he visits Japan, Hong Kong and enjoys the delectable candid aubergine in China. He enjoys the food at Bukhara, especially tandoori chicken which “is not a dish to nibble at politely – you vacuum it up, chomping loudly with no thought for the mess you are making on the table, your hands or your clothes. Thank God they gave me a bib.” He finds the chicken so good that he almost forgets the Bukhara dahl which he licks clean.
(Hachette, John Murray (publishers), 338 Euston Road, London NW1 3BH.)