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Reviewed by Nandita Keshavan for Readers' Favorite
The Gift of Life: Family, Friends, Food & Fun by Dayeeta Roy is an excellent book which combines cooking with family stories. Not only is this book down to earth, entertaining and funny, but you get the impression at the end that you have gotten a lot more insight into the way of life of a modern day Bengali family living in Europe. Food is one of the easiest things in a culture to pass on because food speaks for itself, breaks down barriers between people, and makes a home a real home.
Not only is Dayeeta an industrious and creative cook, but she also maintains the importance of enjoying cooking, being spontaneous and innovative, and not getting bogged down by the details of recipes such as measurements. This is largely due to personal choice, and I also prefer this type of spontaneous cooking. Together with recipes, there are many conversations with her son that are downright funny, and readers will find Roy's style of writing is entertaining, dramatic, and easy to read.
The book is arranged into sections which separate vegetarian dishes from non vegetarian dishes. The recipes are humorously named and there is a story preceding each. The book includes photos throughout and the recipes themselves are well written and cover a variety of possibilities. The stories often include mother trying to outwit son and vice versa. They are classic anecdotes which are funny, and Roy writes about everyday happenings as though they were funny and dramatic adventures. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone interested in Bengali food and family humour.