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I8 ARJUN APPADURAI In the jostling of the various local and regional traditions for appreciation and mutual recognition, certain linguistic and regional traditions with greater access to urban resources, institutions, and media are pushing humbler neigh- bors out of the cosmopolitan view: Thus Telugu cuisine is being progressively pushed out of sight by Tamil cuisine, Oriya by Bengali cuisine, Kannada by Marathi, Rajasthani by Gujarati, and Kashmiri by Punjabi. This does not mean that the humbler traditions have no cookbooks (theirs are frequently in the relevant vernacular), but they are losing in the struggle for a place in the cultural repertoire of the new national (and international) middle classes. The construction of, and traffic in, culinary representations of the ethnic, regional, or linguistic Other has one dimensionthat is not reflectedin the new cookbooks. These books, whether national or regional, uniformly contain positive ethnic stereotypes; but the orally communicated images of the culi- nary Other are often less than complimentary, as in other parts of the world throughout history. Thus, South Indians are said to eat (and enjoy) exces- sively runny food that trickles down their arms to the elbows, Gujaratis are said to eat "sickeningly sweet" food, Punjabi food is said to be heavy and greasy, Telugu food to be inedibly hot, Bengali food to be smothered in pungent mustard oil, and so forth. The new cookbooks, therefore, represent the friendly end of a traffic in interethnic images that has its seamy side. I turn now to the question of how, at the same time as cookbooks in India are generating an anthology of specialized culinaryrepresentations, they are also increasinglyresponsible for constructing the idea of a national or "Indi- an" cuisine. THE INGREDIENTS OF A NATIONAL CUISINE In the contemporary Indian situation, and to some degree generically, cook- books appear to belong to the literature of exile, of nostalgia and loss. These books are often written by authors who now live outside India, or at least away from the subregion about which they are writing. Sometimes they are intended for Indians abroad, who miss, in a vague and generalized way, what they think of as Indian food. Sometimes they are written to recollect and reconstruct the colonial idea of Indian food, and in such cases their master trope is likely to be curry, a category of colonial origin. The nostalgia for the glow of empire, in which recipes are largely a Proustian device, is the under- lying rationale of at least one book, The Raj Cookbook (1981), which has a few "colonial" recipes, squeezed between sundry photographs, advertise- ments, and newspaperclippings from the twilight of the raj.
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