It’s been a long time coming, but that time is almost here. Five years ago I rented out my house and moved to Sri Lanka for a year to fulfill a lifelong dream–to create a Sri Lankan cookbook. As a second generation immigrant, food has always been important to me as my one connection to my roots. Of course, I also love to eat. And travel. When I am introduced to a new culture, food is usually the hook that pulls me in for a deeper appreciation of what a country and a people have to offer.
Sri Lankan food, in particular, I believe, has been one of the best kept secrets in the culinary world. Growing up on this food, which we have always referred to as “rice & curry,” I have been privy to this secret. But whenever I share it with others they become instant fans. Just like the hip-hop music of my youth, which I exposed in one of the first serious books on the artform, The New Beats: Exploring The Music, Culture & Attitudes of Hip-Hop (Anchor/Doubleday, 1994), I feel like I am now shining a light on Sri Lankan food, and that people are ready to accept it. After all, we live in a ‘foodie’ culture today, where all kinds of ‘ethnic’ foods are being celebrated and enjoyed. Global trade has allowed for the dissemination of all kinds of food products which used to be rare or hard to find on these shores, and people today have a greater awareness of food than in any time in history.
I was very lucky to stumble on the catalog of Hippocrene Books through my friend Ramin Ganeshram, who herself published a very fine cookbook of Trinidad food, entitled “Sweet Hands,” on this imprint. Never have I seen so many amazing cookbooks covering so many different countries. You can check out their catalog at the following link:
After sending them a copy of the cookbook I self-published on blurb.com, they were immediately interested. Now several months later and with some major additions, Rice & Curry: Sri Lankan Home Cooking, is almost ready for the market. It will be available as a quality paperback edition, and the best thing is that they are doing it full-color, meaning all the great photos from the original (and more) will be intact. In addition, I have added about 10 side-bars about Sri Lankan food and culture as well as a whole travel section, which will answer questions about getting to the island and what to do and see when you’re there. It’s also the first cookbook that I know of with customer service. Any questions about Sri Lankan food and culture can be directed to me at email@example.com.
When I set out to do this project, my agent told me not to expect to get a book deal unless I was a ‘celebrity chef.’ So I started this blog; I started my YouTube cooking show called “Pan Asian;” I started making and marketing my own brand of curry powder, Skiz’s Original; I appeared on No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain; and I proved my agent wrong. I am very proud to be a home cook like most of the people out there who buy cookbooks and like to experiment in the kitchen. I realize I have been given a great opportunity with the publication of my cookbook, and I plan to promote the cookbook to the fullest. Whether is be a dinner party or a cooking demonstration, if you are interested in having me come to your town, contact me at the email address above and let’s see what we can arrange.
And if your trawling the internet or browsing at a local Barnes and Noble please pick up a copy of Rice & Curry: Sri Lankan Home Cooking (Hippocrene 2011) this October. This is independent enterprise in it’s truest form, and I certainly appreciate your support. Thanks!