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Shortlisted for the André Simon Food and Drink book awards
In a coastline as long and diverse as India's, fish inhabit the heart of many worlds - food of course, but also culture, commerce, sport, 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, among others, 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.
Pulsating with pleasure, adventure and discovery, and tempered by nostalgia and loss, Following Fish reveals a series of unknown Indias in a book as revealing of the subcontinent as any three times its length.
Traveling alone, Subramanian, a freelance writer based in New Delhi, collects the stories of fish vendors, boat builders, restaurant owners, fishers, and toddy shop owners from numerous towns along India's extensive coast. The journalist explores how fish have influenced culture, history, business, sports, and culinary traditions along the Indian coast. His curiosity leads him to investigate a diverse range of topics, including the best time to eat the hilsa fish; a government-supported faith healing treatment of swallowing live fish, called the Gould treatment; and finding the perfect fried fish coated in spices and semolina in a region possessing a "particularly complex strain of cuisine." While on the hunt for the fastest fish in the ocean, Subramanian delves into the extraordinary attributes of the sailfish. He explores how human greed has fouled the oceans and how professionals, sport fishers, and tourists have altered life along India's coasts: "In a common paradox, traditional fishing families were moving away from their trade, and yet harbors and ports were crammed past capacity with motorized fishing boats and trawlers." This memorable travelogue should entice anyone remotely interested in the culture and food ways of coastal India. This is a superb guide to a rapidly changing region of South Asia.