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A Life Of Spice: Stories of food, culture and life

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  58 ratings  ·  19 reviews
In A Life of Spice celebrated writer Monica Bhide explores her romance with food. As in any romance, there are moments of great heartache and unbelievable happiness; betrayals and breakups; and, of course, intimacy. The essays in this book show how food affects all the areas of our lives: family, friends, love, culture, faith, and more. They capture the delights of cooking ...more
Kindle Edition, 180 pages
Published April 27th 2015
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Jessica Haider
A Life of Spice is a collection of food-centric essays from an Indian-American writer. Most of these previously appeared in publications like Bon Appetit, Eating Well, etc. The author grew up in Bahrain but now lives in the US and in this collection she shares her lifelong experiences and love for food. She has many associations of food & family, which really stuck a chord with me. Memories of meals with grandparents... longing for family recipes... Bhide made my mouth water with descriptions of ...more
Luca Marchiori
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am so happy to be in possession of another book by Monica Bhide as I can never get enough of her writing. Her prose is so accurate that you can smell, even taste the food she describes without it ever passing your lips: a rare talent.
In A Life of Spice, Bhide treats us to a collection of stories and articles about her personal love affair with food and we really feel that we've been let into her secret world as she transmits her memory and insight to us. This is not a recipe book, but at the e
Yuska Vonita
Dec 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love this book. It really opens up my mind about culture and how food shapes it up.
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A delightful read. And I so resonated with the author’s cooking style - always by aroma, sound, texture, and approximation - but never (hardly ever) by tasting as one cooks, just as I learned from my mom. Then I realized that this is probably for the same passed-down-over-many-generations cultural reason as the author!

And the photographs are lovely!
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
With a lot of passion and deep knowledge of culture and food stories, Monica Bhide creates a world where spices are part of life and even life itself. This aromated collection of short storie are partly auto-biographic, partly careful reconstructions of cultural histories, written with the dedication of someone that knows, dreams, and smells her domain. I had the priviledge to read the first draft of her collection of short stories and also her regular foodie blog posts, but at the end of this n ...more
Sandra Beckwith
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It's not very often that you find a writer whose essays read like best-selling fiction. Whether I was transported to the Alps while reading "A Deep Red" or practically smelling the sizzling spices in "Save Your Recipes Before It's Too Late," I was in another world while reading this book -- a world that was a bit exotic, and yet relevant. I recommend A Life of Spice to readers who enjoy food, stories, lessons, and love. This remarkable book has all that -- and more. ...more
Praveen Ladwani
Apr 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Books like these keep the creative culinary alive. Its not a cookbook like the traditional ones. Its full of soul-satisfying food memories, its beautiful to browse with gorgeous and stunning pictures by Simi (I think this is a must when its about food). She is always inspiring and never fails to reinvent the wheel in new and creative ways. Try this one and I am sure you will be hooked.
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-on-food
As an expat Indian living in the United States, I read this book during the first couple of years after I moved. I remember crying and feeling deeply touched by the stories in it. Bhide's writing created a cocoon and I think, even my crying was a remembrance. It felt like a precious, familiar feeling.

Like many other expats, food is one of my links back home and I especially love recreating the dishes of my childhood, like the Punjabi kadhi my mother makes, even if it takes a long time. So, food
Susan Rosen
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
funny when I signed up for this giveaway this free Paperback book the cover and the write-up inspired me to cook an Indian dish. then when I won this gem I was thinking to myself, 'the secret sure does work'! ...more
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Not really up my alley yet she is an excellent writer and the cultural explorations are interesting.
MaryBeth Long
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Delightful! Anyone who likes cooking, travel, Indian culture or happy family dynamics will enjoy this series of essays and newspaper columns by a talented writer.
Aug 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A Life of Spice is a collection of food essays that range in tone from highly personal (Bhide's account of her father’s escape from Multan during the Partition of India starts the book off) to light and humourous (“Is the Food Better If the Kitchen is Glamorous?”) and I have to admit that I was hooked from the first page and couldn’t put the book down.

The essays exude a personal touch – you get to know Bhide and her family and friends – but food is the bonding ingredient. Some of the essays focu
Elizabeth  Ann Besa-Quirino
Oct 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Poignant. I had to hold back the tears many times. Monica knows how to grip your heart and make you listen. Every story is a gem with a priceless lesson to learn. Very inspiring. I have read all the stories again and again. My favorite is "Why I Don't Cook for My Parents". ...more
Oct 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
I should have read the description of the book more carefully before starting it. I had been expecting something more like a memoir and not a series of previously published articles and blog posts. Because I hadn't been prepared for that, I had been unprepared for some stories to be repeated from one "chapter" to the next. I also wasn't a fan of the pacing/formatting of the book.

I did like her descriptions of the food and of India; I would love to buy a ticket right now and go experience a lot o
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reminded me of my grandmother's collection of essays written for the local paper and various writing groups. Her food descriptions are lovely, and the book is a sweet little palate cleanser. ...more
Brette Sember
May 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Bhide manages to find and describe not only the scents and tastes of the food that fills her memories, but the music of it as well. In this incredibly well-crafted collection of essays, Bhide shows us how food is the link that ties all of us together and explores how it enhances and magnifies our emotions and experiences. She discovers the melody that food and spices play and amplifies it so we can see and hear it. Bhide has lived an extraordinary life - from the Middle East to India to the US, ...more
Richa Kambo
May 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing piece of work that brings beautiful memories of indian delicacies and tingling in taste buds. It truly exhibits the author's love and passion for food and her incredible style of sharing her thoughts with great stories. What attracted me most in this book were the enticing pictures that are so real and add so much meaning and value to the book itself making it a very interesting read. The spices had never been presented so beautifully before with the lively pictures! The creat ...more
May 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully crafted book, indepth and warmth oozing narrative topped with mesmerizing pictures that no doubt added life to the spices.

Very impressive, would like to read more books by Monica. I was expecting more pictures to accompany the narrative, to provide visual effect to the narrative. Exceptional stories entwined with indian flavours/memoirs and creative shots of spices, photography by Simi Jois was stunning and left me craving for more.

A must read for foodies who are reading bugs like m
May 15, 2016 rated it liked it
A pleasant read that is mostly forgettable. I enjoyed it, though not as much as I enjoyed her fiction.
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Monica Bhide is an internationally renowned writer known for sharing food, culture, love, and life with a lyrical voice and universal appeal. She has built a diverse and solid audience through the publication of three cookbooks and a collection of short stories, her website,, and articles in top-tier media, including Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Saveur, The Washington Post, Health, th ...more

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