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For many, cooking is simply the mechanical act of reproducing standard recipes. To Maryse Condé, however, cooking implies creativity and personal invention, on par with the complexity of writing a story. A cook, she explains, uses spices and flavors the same way an author chooses the music and meaning of words.
In Of Morsels and Marvels, Condé takes us on a literary journey around places she has travelled to in India, Indonesia, and South Africa. She highlights the tastes and culinary traditions that are fascinating examples of a living museum. Such places, Condé explains, provide important insights into lesser-known aspects of contemporary life. One anecdote illustrates what becomes of the standard Antillean dishes of fish stew and goat curry by two Antilleans who own a restaurant in Sydney, Australia. Cuisine changes not only according to the individual cook but also adapts to foreign skies under which it is created. The author also recounts personal memories of her lifelong relationship with cooking, such as when Adélia, her family’s servant, wrongly blames little Maryse for mixing raisins with fish and using her imagination in the kitchen.
Blending travel with gastronomy, this enchanting volume from the winner of the 2018 Alternative Nobel Prize will delight all who marvel at the wonders of the kitchen or seek to taste the world.
About the Author
Maryse Condé is one of the French Caribbean’s most beloved voices. Her many novels and plays published in English include Heremakhonon, Segu, I Tituba Black Witch of Salem, Crossing the Mangrove, Windward Heights, and Victoire, My Mother’s Mother. She is professor emerita of Columbia University and divides her time between Paris and Gordes in the South of France. Richard Philcox is Condé’s husband and translator. He has also published new translations of Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth and Black Skin, White Masks.
“Both Condé’s writing and her food transcend[s] national or cultural delineation. With Of Morsels and Marvels, she presents an alternative to the standard culinary memoir, committing an even greater 'crime of treason' than that of comparing writing to cooking: She asserts food writing’s rightful place among the literary arts. Both the genre and its readers are all the richer for it.”
— New York Times
"The reader is treated to a series of reflections on the role of food in the author’s life, interspersed with observations from her travels. . . . The memoir’s refrain is Condé’s conviction that cooking is a profound art, as revelatory of culture, as inventively brilliant, and potentially as liberating, as writing, painting or music.”
— Times Literary Supplement
"Condé’s narrative is replete with entertaining stories of great meals and conversations shared with people all over the world. Her travels to far-flung lands are related in terms that are full of color, poetry, and wry humor. An honest, forthright, and entertaining travelogue, Of Morsels and Marvels imparts a real taste of the world."
— Foreword Reviews
"For the 2018 Alternative Nobel Prize winner, the process of cooking is on par with writing. This volume, an enchanting culinary and literary journey of the author’s travels to India, Indonesia, and South Africa, is not your regular recipe book."