Are we writing from the heart or from the gut?
How does food influence an author’s style of writing? Can a work of fiction revolve around food and its importance.
These were few of the dilemas discussed by Singapore based writer Elaine Chiew and Kochi based author Tanya Abraham at Chiew on Food Fiction at the Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters 2020 (MBIFL 20).
Both were shedding light into their latest books - The Heartsick Diaspora by Elaine Chiew and Eating With History: Ancient Trade-Influenced Cuisines of Kerala by Tanya Abraham.
Elaine wondered whether people write from the heart or the gut. Though it made Tanya raise her eyebrows, she agreed that food has a very big influence on how people write.
Both spoke about their experiences on how their efforts to preserve different recipes and food culture have led them to realise the importance of what we eat and how we eat are intertwined in lives.
While Elaine spoke about how the Chinese, Malasyan and even Indian food and its influence on the respective cultures, Tanya elaborated on how various Kerala recipes were influenced by countries which had trade ties with India.
Elaine spoke about how food and cooking kept her connected with her mother, mother-in-law and other relatives who had passed away several years ago. Elaine Chiew also read a few pages from her book.
Tanya spoke about how researching various recipes led her to new knowledge and connections between various cuisines. She also spoke about how the research brought her closer to other people.
Both the authors and even the audience agreed that food research is fun and that food is a glue that keeps families together.