They say people who love to eat are the best kind of people. Then what about the ones who turn raw edibles into delectable delicacies? They must surely be a godsend. Now imagine cooking and science combined - a delicious amalgamation, right? And that is exactly what the latest ‘adda’ with a Nobel laureate, an illustrator and a food blogger couple promises. ‘Bong Eats,’ a YouTube channel with over 1.36 million subscribers, documents the food of Calcutta. Run by Saptarshi Chakraborty and Insiya Poonawala, they showcase traditional Bengali recipes prepared at home as well as some of the most beloved dishes found in the myriad streets, cabins, and restaurants in the city. In the latest episode of their series “Rannaghare Ke?,” they are joined by Nobel prize winner Abhijit Banerjee and French illustrator Cheyenne Olivier. A flavourful conversation ensues on whether chaats are salads, pomelos, environmentalism and sustainability in a polarised climate, and the uniqueness of ‘continental’ food, peppered with cooking, too, of course.
The eclectic chefs cooked up a storm in the kitchen with diverse dishes ranging from Persian yoghurt soup, Thai pomelo salad, coconut crusted prawns and caramel custard. In between the chit chat, the nobel prize winner asks Insiya to address him as “Abhijit or Abhijit Da“, a form of endearment used by Bengalis.
Abhijit also shared snippets of a childhood incident in Murshidabad during Durga Puja when he was a six-year-old. He got caught in a storm while at a pomelo orchard and reminisced about running for shelter while it was “raining pomelos.” He also attributed the way he held spices or the method of adding them to his mother, whose cooking was inspired by her life in the UK. “Her food was an English appropriation of French food I would say,” he is heard saying in the video. Abhijit whipped up the coconut prawns, adding that the “shrimps need surface area to cook, else it wouldn’t crust.” He even conversed in Bengali amid the exchange of thoughts and aromas.
Abhijit had won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics along with his wife Esther Duflo and Micheal Kremer. Recently, he published a book ‘Cooking To Save Your Life’ featuring his favourite recipes, which was illustrated by Cheyenne. The Nobel laureate shared that Cheyenne and he used to cook together while she was an au pair (live-in caregiver) with the family for a few years.
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