Chef: A Novel by Jaspreet Singh

Brrr.. I am just back from a long visit to Kashmir. It was -8 degrees Celsius there. And even though I was with a chef, I am not so happy since Kashmiri delicacies are generally non-vegetarian due to the cold there and I am a vegetarian. 😦 Would I recommend you to visit Kashmir with the chef? Find out below.

If you have no idea what I am talking about, click on the below image.

This book is read as a part of

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Goodreads Summary:
Kirpal Singh is riding the slow train to Kashmir. With India passing by his window, he reflects on his destination, which is also his past: a military camp to which he has not returned for fourteen years. Kirpal, called Kip, is shy and not yet twenty when he arrives for the first time at General Kumar’s camp, nestled in the shadow of the Siachen Glacier. At twenty thousand feet, the glacier makes a forbidding battlefield; its crevasses claimed the body of Kip’s father. Kip becomes an apprentice under the camp’s chef, Kishen, a fiery mentor who guides him toward the heady spheres of food and women. In this place of contradictions, erratic violence, and extreme temperatures, Kip learns to prepare local dishes and delicacies from around the globe. Even as months pass, Kip, a Sikh, feels secure in his allegiance to India, firmly on the right side of this interminable conflict. Then, one muggy day, a Pakistani “terrorist” with long, flowing hair is swept up on the banks of the river and changes everything. Mesmeric, mournful, and intensely lyrical, Chef is a brave and compassionate debut about hope, love, and memory set against the devastatingly beautiful, war-scarred backdrop of Kashmir.

My views: *Sigh* Even though I wanted to like this book, I just didn’t.

It started off well, weaving me into the story, wanting to know what had happened in the chef’s past. But as the book progressed, it went downhill. I felt like there was so much need to take the book to a higher, cognitive version of itself that it ceased to make any sense, to me.

The story is of a Sikh army chef and his reminiscing about his past experience in Kashmir – the war troubled zone. The life there, the food (of course) and the politics involved.

Good points about the book:

Everything related to food was yum! Beautifully talked about.

The picture presented of politics and war is hopeless but true and revealing to quite some extent.

Some people and incidents tug at the heart.

Not so good:

Either I am not abstract minded to make sense of the abstract or there was senseless abstract in the book. To some level abstractness and randomness add interest and appeal to a book but in this one, the pages were filled with abstract that went beyond my understanding.

In all, if you want to read it, read for the description of food. Nothing else would make me recommend this book to anyone.

2/5 stars- It was OK.

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