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Episode 242: Mayukh Sen

BY MEGAN LABRISE • November 16, 2021

James Beard Award winner Mayukh Sen celebrates seven immigrant women who changed the way we eat.

On this episode, food journalist Mayukh Sen discusses Taste Makers: Seven Immigrant Women Who Revolutionized Food in America (Norton, Nov. 16), a vibrant collection of biographical essays celebrating the accomplishments of “seven immigrant women who defiantly introduced new tastes, ingredients, and recipes to their adopted country” (Kirkus). In this lively debut, Sen profiles culinary luminaries Chao Yang Buweiof China, Elena Zelayeta of Mexico, Madeleine Kamman of France, Marcella Hazan of Italy, Julie Sahni of India, Najmieh Batmanglij of Iran, and Norma Shirley of Jamaica.

Here’s a bit more from Kirkus’ review of Taste Makers: “As a ‘queer child of Bengali immigrants to America,’ Sen identifies with the feeling of isolation that the women experienced as they made their ways as teachers, restaurateurs, and writers. The author seeks ‘to trouble the canon of culinary brilliance’ in a male-dominated field. Drawing on cookbooks, memoirs, interviews, and articles, Sen creates warmly appreciative profiles of each.… As the author examines each woman’s culinary contributions, he underscores the influence of food writers, notably Craig Claiborne, in shaping America’s tastes. Well-crafted, engaging portraits of culinary and cultural pioneers.”

Sen and host Megan Labrise discuss the response Sen received from editors when he shopped the idea for the book; why he chose to include details of his reportorial process in the book; the trailblazing life of feminist French chef and restauranteur Madeline Kamman; the ill-defined distinction between the food establishment and food media; what it was like to interview living legends Julie Sahni and Najmieh Batmanglij for the book; and much more.

Then editors Laura Simeon, Summer Edward, and Laurie Muchnick offer their top picks in books for the week.

 

Editorspicks:

The Legend of the Christmas Witch by Dan Murphy and Aubrey Plaza (Viking)

The Year I Stopped Trying by Katie Heaney (Knopf)

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich (Harper/HarperCollins)

 

Also mentioned on this episode:

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon (Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster)

Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally (Sourcebooks Fire)

Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch by Rivka Galchen (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry (Pantheon)

Apple (Skin to the Core) by Eric Gansworth (Levine Querido)

 

Thanks to our advertisers:

A Rope for Judas by Robert S. Turner

Loving Modigliani: The Afterlife of Jeanne Hébuterne by Linda Lappin

It’s Good to See You Again by Randall Wright

 

Fully Booked is produced by Cabel Adkins Audio and Megan Labrise.

 

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