Jennifer Reese
November 03, 2006 AT 05:00 AM EST

Climbing the Mango Trees

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Madhur Jaffrey
publisher
Knopf
genre
Nonfiction

We gave it a B+

Actress and cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey stretches her taste memories into a slender and lovely book, Climbing the Mango Trees, evoking her girlhood in an affluent Indian household in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. ”During my childhood it did not occur to me that families came in sizes smaller than thirty people, swelling beatifically to a few thousand at the mere hint of a grand event,” Jaffrey writes, describing both the complex dynamics within the clan and the dazzling food rituals that sustained it: enormous elaborate picnics; visits to Delhi’s ”Lane of Fried Breads,” where flaky paratha floated in cauldrons of hot butter; and afternoons when her mother served a milky cardamom-scented pudding with slivered pistachios — ”airy nothings” — sprinkled on top.

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