Book launches are events which I enjoy attending for two reasons. First, one gets to hear interesting little anecdotes from the author about how the book came about, which are often not mentioned in the book itself. Second, I get to buy a personally autographed copy, which is always special. When Rajiv Aneja invited me to the launch of Odette Mascarenhas’s latest book The Culinary Heritage of Goa, at his delightful French Restaurant Rara Avis, I happily accepted as Goa is a place very close to my heart.
Odette Mascarenhas is a multi talented lady wearing many hats. She is a management consultant, author, TV anchor, columnist, food critic, and co-founder of the Goan Culinary Club. She introduced herself to the select few who were present at her book launch, as the daughter-in-law of Miguel Arcanjo Mascarenhas, Chef at Taj Mahal Mumbai in 1939 and one of Goa’s greatest chefs, who even has a restaurant named after him at Taj Exotica, Benaulim. Her first book, which she wrote on him, “Masci The Man Behind the Legend” won a Special Jury Award At the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2008.
What followed after the introduction was a wonderful culinary journey through Goa down the ages, from the times of the Chalukyas, Kadambas, the Vijaynagar Empire, the Muslim Bahamani Sultanate, the Portuguese rulers, to the present times and how it is all reflected in the evolution of Goan Cuisine. The amount of research that Odette has done for this book is praiseworthy and The Culinary Heritage Of Goa, truly makes for a collector’s item.
The book, The Culinary Heritage of Goa, is beautifully illustrated, the photographs we were told, were taken by her talented son Nolan, with whom she often had creative disagreement while the book was being conceived. It removes the misconception that Goan food is merely about the Christian and the Hindu cuisine. In her book Odette talks about five major cuisines of Goa. It is replete with recipes of popular Goan dishes and some long forgotten ones, which she managed to unearth by talking to the locals. Not just food, this book gives us a glimpse into the hidden parts of the beautiful state of Goa, those quaint churches, the obscure temples and some wonderful food tales associated with the locals. The book is priced at Rs1200.
– Lavina Kharkwal
Photograph Courtesy: Goa No Limits