A title that intrigues the foodie in me is always good. But it sets an expectation that the story would be just as delicious. The cover of the book, and the blurb together made me feel like that expectation would be met, and I took a bite into the book “Gone with the Vindaloo”, written by Vikram Nair.
“Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.”
The dialogue from food critic Anton Ego in the movie Ratatouille comes to mind when I read this book, which tells the story of a spinner of yarns, Kalaam, who finds out he can concoct delicious recipes and that gift passes to Pakwaan, his grandson, true heir to his cooking legacy. When his signature dish is tasted and admired by a Russian-American lady, Pakwaan’s journey in food becomes destined to cross the seven seas and reach the land of possibilities, America.
The story begins with promise, with beautiful descriptions of food, something a foodie would love.
“Onions were fried till golden, tossed with turmeric, garlic and ginger, and the marinated meat, red and full of hot promise, was thrown into the cauldron and left to simmer till the meat was cooked.”
Such mouth-watering descriptions help any food-based novel infinitely. To add to that is the “destined to cook” storyline which rings true of dreams coming true, even unknown ones. There are wonderful notes like the above description which bring a smile. The author’s narration is simple and that helps to interlink the many sub-stories (for the most part). Out of food, the novel still has some humor, the most memorable scene being the one concerning the family planning. It also has a realistic feel to it with the ending, something I didn’t see coming but felt it was right when I read it.
Unfortunately, for me, the story didn’t have enough pace in it to hold my interest for long stretches. Also the intermittent sex scenes didn’t work, and felt quite unneeded. It needed something to deliver a punch, an aromatic hit with words, but that did not come.
I wouldn’t recommend it for every food lover, but it’s not a very bad novel for a debut.
Title: Gone with the Vindaloo
Author: Vikram Nair
Publisher: Hachette India
Price: Rs. 350
(29th June 2014)