I picked up this book Rude Food as I wanted to read something on food that was beyond the recipes that were someone’s favorite experiments. And in my mind, Vir Sanghvi was not into the food business. So I expected to get some good insight into food by someone who is well traveled. And has the intelligence to judge and talk about food, without trying to sell something. I would not say I am disappointed. But if you read the whole book, you would probably know what Vir Sanghvi ate the whole of his life till he published this book. Where he ate at what stage of his life, his elitist childhood and rest of life, what he cooks and how many chefs he knows.
Since the book Rude Food is a collection of articles that he had written over a period of time, so you would find a lot of articles pretty dated. I would have preferred if he has put the date of publishing that article along with the article. It would have probably been re-living the part of history.
Book Rude Food is very elitist, talks of food only at five-star restaurants primarily in metro cities in India, London, New York and at times some odd places in Europe. Though off and on he has spoken about Dhaba food and the Chaats in metro cities. But I guess that those experiences are limited to the times he was traveling through highways and had to eat there. For the five star places, he throws all kinds of names all the time. And seems to be knowing dishes more by who cooks them rather than what the ingredients are. He also talks about various places where he has eaten apart from five stars like at Chef Conferences, at his interviews with Prime Minister. And at various places where he visited a journalist, airline food etc
There is a lot of talk about the non-vegetarian food, which as a vegetarian I could not appreciate too much. But I think that is what any non-vegetarian writing the book would have done. Though at places I see a conscious effort to include the vegetarian stuff. He does unravel some of the myths of vegetarian food served in the places where he eats. Like our simpleton daal being made with a non-veg stock. He also talks about how what the waiter usually recommends you is usually the items that they want to finish in the kitchen. And hence they want to push it to you. There is an interesting analysis of various food ingredients all over the book, about what is best from where. You may find it amusing that he does not like the potatoes that we get in India. And carries potatoes back from his overseas trips.
I liked his analysis of Fad diets, which is a bit researched and personally experimented. And I love the final analysis – do not analyze food too much, just go ahead and enjoy it. Negatives of today’s fad diets would come out tomorrow. Though again here his analysis is of all elite diet and dieticians. He has conveniently overlooked the Ayurveda’s claim on the diet based on your Prakriti. And which seems to be more accurate than what most modern dieticians prescribe and which keeps you healthy at the core. I also liked his article on the various types of Oils. And I agree with him that there is nothing like the fresh white butter when it comes to giving the right flavor to the food. Olive Oil comes the close second.
Read Rude Food if either you are crazy about food. And/or frequent the elite places, you may find a lot of information. Vir, I would recommend that you should sometime try eating what most India eats. And those small corner places which are a part of any elite food guide (they probably can’t afford an elite reviewer). But probably serve the best food.
Buy this book – Rude Food by Vir Sanghvi at Amazon India.