Culinary books still sell hot in times of internet

Mumbai
9 Jul 2017

Would you prefer flipping through the pages of a cook book to try making 'gajar ka halwa' and 'butter chicken' or watch its video online ?
The online search engines have answers to all the queries. Type a word and hundreds of pages pop up. At such a time, are culinary books losing their sheen ?
Well, the authors and publishers don't feel so.
The touch of a culinary glossy, its images bringing alive the food stirring the taste buds and the freedom to have your own personal cooking guide will never lose its charm, say young and veteran writers, who have chronicled recipes and a gamut of food experiences in their books.
The US-based author Niloufer King, who has penned 'My Bombay Kitchen - Traditional and Modern Parsi Home Cooking', is sure that most of her rpt her followers prefer to read about a cuisine in its social and cultural context.
"I suppose my target audience is composed of people who want to read about a cuisine in its social and cultural contexts, who don't necessarily see a book on food as being ingredient lists and photographs," King told PTI.
"I think there'll always be a future for text-heavy books on food," says the 74-year-old author.
King says she's not familiar with social media and neither very knowledgeable about online platforms.
"I'm of a generation who likes to grasp a book, to feel its weight, to smell the paper and ink, to enjoy the typography and graphics, to go back and forth between chapters," she says.
The author says she finds it interesting "talking to people who know more about the subject than I do, reading, tasting, exploring".
Farzana Contractor, the editor and publisher of UpperCrust food magazine, says, "The USP of culinary books is that they are more alive and very personal."
"You can read it in a train, you can read it on a plane, you don't have to put it off, like in a plane you've to put off the wi-fi. So most of the times if you're going to sit down and look at the recipes in your phone, it's so tiny.
"You can't compare the images and how alive they look in a book vis-a-vis this thing (on phone)," she says.
Contractor, the wife of "a foodie as big as" Behram Contractor aka BusyBee (noted journalist and founder-editor of Afternoon newspaper), says books are more realistic than a screen, which is "just impersonal."
Goa-based author and food critic Odette Mascarenhas, whose book 'Masci- The Man behind the Legend' won the special jury award, Gourmand Cookbooks Paris 2008, echoes similar sentiments.
Her book was a biography of Miguel Arcanjo Mascarenhas or Masci, the first Indian to be an executive chef at the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai in 1939. She shared 50 of his signature recipes in the book.
"While on stage in Paris, most of the 450 food writers gathered there fondly remembered eating Calamari butter garlic and grilled fish only. The preparations are not Goan. People were getting the wrong perceptions," she says.
"Moreover many of the people who bought my book were keen to know the recipes of Masci...I realised that certain recipes needed to be protected. So I decided to dig into the culinary ethos and write about it," says Mascarenhas, who also penned the 'Culinary Escapade of Goa'.
Celebrity chef Ranveer Brar, whose first book 'Come into my Kitchen' was published last year, feels books will never be out of fashion.
"Books still have their own charm, I mean the actual books. It's true that information nowadays is pretty much hands-on, just a click away; but books do sell, culinary books especially," says the 39-year-old chef, who features in various cookery shows on television.
"The ability to hold a book and cook along, leaving ingredient stains on pages, all that charm will always be there. So I believe that culinary books do sell and will continue to sell," he feels. (PTI)