I like to read. Not as much as when I was a child and a youngster and wanted to escape the lonely feeling of being an outsider in the world, but still today – the library is where I go if I go somewhere.
I like to read poetry. And I like to write poetry (at least I imagine my writing is poetry and even good poetry). I like short stories, but I haven’t written any. But I really wish that I could. I like to read crime stories. But I have not committed any crime. Well, I’ve at times got a pen with me home that wasn’t mine. But nothing more serious wrong than that ( I hope).
And I like reading cookbooks, but I really don’t enjoy cooking so much. Especially not from read recipes. But cookery books can give me ideas – well yes, if I remember them, then in the kitchen … (But I don’t!) Anyway, I like to read them.
There is a Swedish cookbook that I have borrowed several times at the library during the years.
The book is titled Sultanens Auberginer. Recept och matminnen från hela världen. (The sultan’s Aubergines. Recipes and food memories from all over the world.) The writers are Stina Katchadourian and Sabina Ståhlberg. The book was printed 2003. I don’t think the book is to find in other languages than Swedish and I’m sure it’s not to find in a book shop. But it can be find at a local Swedish library or ordered from it.
The dishes are exotic from many different parts of the world but traditionally in the sense that the book is based on a diet that contains meat dishes. And the two authors have an “open-minded” attitude that I definitely not share:
(Page 131) “In international contexts you have to strain your own prejudices. Even things that you really don’t like you should sometimes taste, otherwise you insult your hosts who might have invested a whole month’s salary at dinner. It’s just to swallow. .. “
For example, the authors write about eating dogs or insects in China … and I’m quoting from the same page “But what makes us think that it is so disgusting, scary or awful? Habits, values, feelings. What applies to us is what we have learned is eatable.”
I totally disagree in their opinion. I’m a vegetarian and it is more than “values” in that. And if a host would be insulted if I wouldn’t appreciate his efforts to make a dish with meat and refuse to eat it? So be it! What is worst, to insult a guest by force him/her to eat something against beliefes or to “insult” the host by say a polite “no thanks” and explain why? There is no respect to a host in being dishonest to him or her and eat what you find uneatable and disgusting. But it is of course my view.
An example from a book:
Is it respect to accept the pride hospitality of “poor Peruan” Indian’s making a dish of a boiled guinea pig, as that’s all he has? The poor one? I would rather go hungry, even if be rejected out to a lonely jungle danger – thrown away from the house welcoming fireplace. Yes, I mean it seriously.
Guinea pig! Just look at it!
So why do I like this book and borrow it over and over again when the recipes are not in my taste? It is for the small talks and all the little humorous stories in between the recipes, that I find so entertaining!
And even as being a vegetarian, of all fruits and vegetables the aubergine is one of few I don’t like to eat. Yet my favourit story in the book is about aubergines:
Sultan’s eggplants (page 25 in the book translated by me)
One day when Sultan Mahmud was hungry he was served aubergines. He liked them a lot and said:
– The eggplant is excellent food.
A courtier began to praise the dish with great eloquence. When the sultan had eaten enough and became tired of the dish, he said:
– The eggplant is very harmful food.
Whereupon the courtier began to talk about the eggplant’s harmfulness with even greater eloquence.
– But my good man, said the sultan surprised, haven’t you just sang the praise to the eggplant in every tones that can be?
Yes, my lord, replied the courtier, but I am your courtier and not the aubergine.