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Following Fish: Travels around the Indian Coast

de Samanth Subramanian

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"In India's long and diverse coastline, fish inhabit the heart of many aspects of life: food of course, and also culture, commerce, sports, history, and society. Journeying along the edges of the peninsula, Samanth Subramanian delivers a kaleidoscope of extraordinary stories. Following Fish conducts rich, journalistic investigations of the use of fish to treat asthmatics in Hyderabad; of the preparation and the process of eating West Bengal's prized hilsa; of the ancient art of building fishing boats in Gujarat; of the fiery cuisine and the singular spirit of Kerala's toddy shops; of the food and the lives of Mumbai's first peoples; of the history of an old Catholic fishing community in Tamil Nadu; and of the hunt for the world's fastest fish near Goa; and of many others. Pulsating with pleasure, adventure, and discovery, Following Fish reveals a series of unknown Indias in a book as intriguing as the country itself." --… (mais)
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Travel and cooking are 2 of my (many) passions! I just love travelogues. Bill Bryson is one of my favorites, the other writer I recently discovered and loved is Paul Theroux. An unexpected but good read was Che Guevara's ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ - of course that is not just any travelogue.
Travelogues just take you to distant and mystical lands for a few hundred rupees and you could do the journey by just sitting on your couch and without the travel fatigue!

I picked up 'Following Fish', without any knowledge about the book or the author. I was a bit skeptical, given the dull cover and a fishy title :)! Since it involved both travel and food, I could not resist. To my pleasant surprise, it indeed turned out to be a wonderful read for a weekend.

The book is divided into 9 essays and it starts from Kolkata and its famous Hilsa and rightfully so, as Kolkata is the food capital (at least for seafood and sweets) and Hilsa is the queen of fishes.

The journey takes a detour inland to Hyderabad where Samanth visits the Goud's family for the famous fish treatment for his Asthma and returns skeptical than before.

The best part of the book is the essay in search of the best toddy and karimeen in Kerala and the one about the Mangalore fish curry comes a close second. The journey continues to Goa (of course), Mumbai and ends at Gujarat. Befittingly, for Gujarat, the last essay talks about the huge fishing boat building industry rather than the cuisine.

The writing is easy and almost like a note from a friend and lyrical at times and sparkling with humor all the time. The author draws in from a host of other great writers and sprinkles their quotes throughout the book. The essays are full of colorful characters and their interesting stories - this is the book's greatest strength.

The book also touches upon the cultural, ecological issues of the day, talks about the dwindling fishes in our seas, and the sandless beaches of Goa, where the tourist industry is eating into the fishing industry. 'Goa - A state that had come to be unfortunately infected with the idleness of its guests'.

This is Mr. Subramanian's first book and I hope he continues to write in this fashion for a long time. May he continue to be the 'discoverer of people, a finder-out of stories'.
  krishna.kumar | Aug 27, 2020 |
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"In India's long and diverse coastline, fish inhabit the heart of many aspects of life: food of course, and also culture, commerce, sports, history, and society. Journeying along the edges of the peninsula, Samanth Subramanian delivers a kaleidoscope of extraordinary stories. Following Fish conducts rich, journalistic investigations of the use of fish to treat asthmatics in Hyderabad; of the preparation and the process of eating West Bengal's prized hilsa; of the ancient art of building fishing boats in Gujarat; of the fiery cuisine and the singular spirit of Kerala's toddy shops; of the food and the lives of Mumbai's first peoples; of the history of an old Catholic fishing community in Tamil Nadu; and of the hunt for the world's fastest fish near Goa; and of many others. Pulsating with pleasure, adventure, and discovery, Following Fish reveals a series of unknown Indias in a book as intriguing as the country itself." --

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