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Culinary Culture in Colonial India
A Cosmopolitan Platter and the Middle-Class


  • Author: Utsa Ray, Jadavpur University, Kolkata
  • Date Published: January 2015
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107042810

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About the Authors
  • This book utilizes cuisine to understand the construction of the colonial middle class in Bengal who indigenized new culinary experiences as a result of colonial modernity. This process of indigenization developed certain social practices, including imagination of the act of cooking as a classic feminine act and the domestic kitchen as a sacred space. The process of indigenization was an aesthetic choice that was imbricated in the upper caste and patriarchal agenda of the middle-class social reform. However, in these acts of imagination, there were important elements of continuity from the pre-colonial times. The book establishes the fact that Bengali cuisine cannot be labeled as indigenist although it never became widely commercialized. The point was to cosmopolitanize the domestic and yet keep its tag of 'Bengaliness'. The resultant cuisine was hybrid, in many senses like its makers.

    • Discusses the cultural history of cooking and cuisine in Bengal
    • Examines how cuisine was central to the construction and self-fashioning of the new colonial middle class
    • Looks at how the kitchen space was gendered
    • Offers a stimulating view of how cooking for women was endowed with a new aesthetic significance
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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2015
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107042810
    • length: 280 pages
    • dimensions: 238 x 162 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.64kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    List of images, maps and tables
    1. Introducing 'foreign' food: changes in the gastronomic culture of colonial Bengal
    2. The cosmopolitan and the regional: understanding Bengali cuisine
    3. Aestheticizing labor? An affective discourse of cooking in colonial Bengal
    4. Constructing 'Bengali' cuisine caste: class and communal negotiations
    5. Fashioning the 'Bengali' middle class: dilemma of the regional and the subregional
    About the author.

  • Author

    Utsa Ray, Jadavpur University, Kolkata
    Utsa Ray is assistant professor at Jadavpur University, Kolkata. She is primarily interested in looking at how taste and consumption aids in the construction of class. She has published widely in journals such as Modern Asian Studies and the Indian Economic and Social History Review.

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