Notes from a Radical Kitchen

Anita Mannur ’96 explores the ways in which othered communities reclaim space through food.

Cover of book, Intimate Eating, by Anita Mannur

Duke University Press

Curry is the first flavor one encounters in Anita Mannur ’96’s Intimate Eating: Racialized Spaces and Radical Futures. Curry is ubiquitous in Indian cuisine; its popularity is also a product of British colonization. As Mannur writes in her introduction, artist Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik, who works in curry as a medium, views it as a way “for colonizers to contain the vastness of empire and consume the difference within it.”

Mannur shatters that container with the explosive defiance of ceramic cookware dashed against terra cotta kitchen tiles, revealing the ways in which the culinary arts can be transgressive and liberating practices for people who have historically been confined. She explores this in communities of color, queer folks, and other marginalized groups by examining the portrayal of food in media. She also considers visual art (including the Bhaumik piece featured on the book’s cover) to uncover the ways in which food shapes social worlds.

Anita Mannur

Mannur shows how culinary arts can be transgressive and liberating practices. Anita Mannur

Mannur illustrates how these communities turn “private spaces and practices via the culinary into ones that foster sociability, intimacy, community, and belonging,” one reviewer writes. “I want to eat every meal with this book,” adds another.

Mannur is an associate professor of English and Asian and Asian American studies at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Published in the Summer 2022 issue


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