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Naben Ruthnum, Curry

Curry is the perfect food, without question. I always screw up the cooking of it, at least a little bit, and I can't handle spicy heat (no matter the national origin), but it's incredible even when it's not quite right. The aromatics, the creaminess, the competing textures: honestly, it's the perfect food.

Curry, Naben Ruthnum's slim volume from Coach House Books, with its tripartite subtitle Eating, Reading, and Race, has a similarly refined messy balance among its ingredients. It's unabashedly personal, this theoretically informed pondering of food as ideology and family bond, this eaterly wander through South Asian literature, this readerly plateful of innumerable curries, and it's a joy.

The first chapter, "Eating," is about the food, the ingredients, the methods, and the stories to be told about curry and/as food--chow mein in Calcutta, goddamn turmeric lattes, and Indian cookbooks. The second, "Reading," is about the books that tell…

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