Digesting India



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‘Zac takes the reader along on a wild rollercoaster ride across the subcontinent, magically expanding and contracting time and space at will. Full of tasty temptations and sinful seductions this drool-worthy a la carte memoir is a thrilling page-turner—an irresistible invitation to throw caution to the wind and binge. O’Yeah!’—Pushpesh Pant, food critic and historian

‘Zac O’Yeah is the ideal companion for a meal or seventy-seven. His energy is infectious, and his appetite—for food, but also for conversation and literature—is vast. Digesting India is a paean to India, from a man who has learned to love the country in many ways, not least through his stomach.’—Samanth Subramanian, author of Following Fish: Travels Around the Indian Coast

‘With his trademark humour, Zac O’Yeah delves deep into the underbelly of the country that he loves. Digesting India is a rollicking read.’—Shoba Narayan, author and journalist

Digesting India is a wildly entertaining and informative adventure through the landscapes of Indian culinary art, as explored by Zac O’Yeah, a Scandinavian origin Indian novelist with a readiness to stomach anything and everything that grows or walks on earth. Well, almost. This book combines the three things that O’Yeah loves most about life—eating, drinking and travelling—in a delightful romp based on thirty years of trying to understand India through its food culture.

This fast-paced story of a traveller’s untiring quest for new cultural and culinary experiences is as intriguing as it is profound, and you might say it captures India in a nutshell—a very big, coconut-sized one. Here we learn about dishes that we may never have heard of, and food habits we never knew existed, such as when we accompany O’Yeah on a ‘spareparts’ tour that begins in Shivajinagar, the slaughterhouse area of Bengaluru. As we follow him on a winding journey through India, he takes us through the pleasures of drinking beer in Bengaluru (slang for ‘beer galore’), toddy in Kerala, and eating boiled vegetables and masala-less curries in Sevagram, the Mahatma’s ashram in Maharashtra, to prepare him for the rich red ‘lal maas’ in royal Rajasthan. He discovers Goa’s literati culture sipping cashew fenny with Nobel laureate Orhan Pahmuk and Amitav Ghosh, finds two of his favourite foods—mushrooms and cheese—in Bhutan’s ‘shamudatsi’, and, in a delightful digression, finds out—while still on earth—what astronauts eat, and more importantly, drink, in outer space.

Digesting India is a rollicking read—a multi-course meal full of happy discoveries. Read it as vicarious fun in your armchair, carry it as an inspiring travel companion, or use it to impress your friends with thousands of interesting, surprising facts about local foods and the many places they come from.

Author's Name
FormatPaperback with flaps
ImprintSpeaking Tiger
Pages344 + 50 b/w photographs


Travel writer Zac O’Yeah has traversed the length and breadth of India, stopping for double breakfasts, a handful of lunches, bottles of stuff, which ranges from grog to branded liquor at many a pub or what passes for a pub in the hinterlands, as well as several dinners, all in leisurely sequence. The result is this book, a neat meld of travelogue and food chronicle, which, to fall back on that clichéd term, really does make for an entertaining and informative read.

Sheila Kumar | The New Indian Express

In his many years in India, Zac has also acquired endearing Indianisms, like “veg” and “nonveg”, or “eating 5-star”, usage you won’t find elsewhere in the English-speaking world. So, when you survey his dosa route through Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, or sniff over his shoulder in Chandigarh, at a tandoori chicken of “classic honest-to-goodness simplicity”, you’re travelling with a foreigner, albeit a nativised one, with a sharp eye for the incongruous.

Mohit Satyanand | Open Magazine



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