‘Stories and food remain the same, only faces change, and those too only vaguely. The same faces keep coming back every few generations to eat the same food and live out the same stories.’
Ayesha realizes that her relationship with food has made her obese and this realization takes her on a journey of self-discovery where she learns to fall in love with food not through gluttony, but by understanding its sensuous journey and evolution. In her life, feast runs parallel to the tales of people, and sometimes becomes the cerebral voice relating its journey over time and regions, telling stories of the people to whom it provides nourishment and nurturing.
Travelling in time, Ayesha and Feast present scenarios of hospitality, generosity and warmth of the people of the subcontinent; through seasons, traditions and celebrations. Soon Ayesha comes to appreciate how food brings with it interesting stories, tying various emotions together—celebratory, jubilant, sorrowful and the ordinary. The history of regional cuisine, the multitude of tastes and flavours, and the passions they evoke, have a deep impact on Ayesha. She eventually comes to understand that her primary relationship is with food, and until that is not healthy, nothing else will be.
Away from Ayesha’s voice, Tirmizi’s account is often omniscient, telling tales of a different time, stepping into another past, and then jumping to the present, voicing the evolution of food and its impact on Ayesha, and the relationships she has with others.
Additionally, mouth-watering recipes of traditional dishes from the subcontinent make for a delightful read. In Tirmizi’s deft hands, Feast is as a feast should be: endearing and unputdownable.