Art and epicurean practices have long been intertwined — whether in paintings and installations, relational aesthetics projects, or the grand tradition of “days of the long table cloth,” as Frida Kahlo described the meals she and Diego Rivera would organize for friends. When a community of creative practitioners comes together, more often than not, there is food involved — from the Museum of Modern Art Artists’ Cookbook, published in 1978, to the Artists Cookbook by Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum presented online during the COVID-19 lockdown last year, to Hyperallergic’s own What the Art World is Cooking series, featuring recipes by artists and art workers, cookbooks by and about artists have been as much about art practices, placemaking, and food politics as they have been full of straightforward recipes. The latest contribution to this popular genre is The 1Shanthiroad Cookbook, published by the Bengaluru-based independent publishing house, Reliable Copy.
Two decades ago, when founding director Suresh Jayaram started 1Shanthiroad Studio/Gallery — today, Bengaluru’s oldest running artist residency space — he knew he wanted to have an open kitchen. The idea of having a large space that could readily feed anyone that walked in, in need of food or company, used to be a common concept among most families in southern India that could afford it. Such practices were core to Jayaram’s upbringing, in both his grandmother’s and mother’s kitchens, making it inevitable that his own kitchen would later become a hub for creative people. “Food has always been a big draw at 1Shanthiroad,” he explained to Hyperallergic. Much loved is the Rum Punch, a staple at exhibition openings, ideally made with the cult favorite Old Monk rum, tea decoction, and other unlikely ingredients. The recipe heads the beverages section of the cookbook.
A little over seventy of the hundreds of creative people who have passed through Jayaram’s kitchen contributed recipes to the cookbook. Entries range from traditional old favorites like ragi mudde (finger millet balls) and baimbale (bamboo shoots) curry, to those requiring more specialized ingredients and elaborate processes, as well as some that are quicker affairs.
Jayaram notes that many of the recipes he added himself were from his mother’s archives. “All the contributors [to the cookbook] have eaten, cooked, or brought food to 1Shanthiroad,” he said. “Likewise, all the recipes in the book have at one point or the other been made in his kitchen.”
While it certainly wasn’t planned this way, it ended up being appropriate that the cookbook was released at the close of 2020, a year when friends and family could no longer gather around a meal — a year when, as Jayaram notes, the garden, the kitchen, and food all became important metaphors for hope. As socializing remains not entirely safe, the cookbook serves as a reminder of many a meal enjoyed in the company of friends and conversation.
Yet The 1Shanthiroad Cookbook does more than stoke nostalgia, hinting in some places at the violent politics that touch the growing, trading, cooking, and eating of food. The Bengaluru-based photo artist Pushpamala N notes a recipe for Gauri Lankesh’s Urgent Saaru, a soup-thin curry that used to be made in a jiffy by the slain journalist and activist. A vocal critic of Hindu fundamentalism and rising right-wing politics in India, Lankesh was shot dead in front of her home in 2017. Likewise, recipes for roast beef and beef tongue need to be read in a context of how the meat — an inexpensive source of essential protein for millions of people in the country — has been banned in nearly all the states in India amid a sharp rise in religious hegemony and the Hindutva agenda of right-wing politics. The latest ban has been in Karnataka. Apart from robbing a traditional food culture from a vast population, the ban severely affects farmers who are already reeling under debts and crop failures from weird weather patterns. (Ironically, India is among the largest exporters of beef in the world.)
Deliciously inclusive, The 1Shanthiroad Cookbook is indicative of the diversity of Indian cuisine. Its emphasis on plurality and homeliness — rare are the recipes that would be served in large restaurants — peppered with monochromatic illustrations of objects at 1Shanthiroad by Akshay Sethi, make this cookbook a valuable addition to any library, of cookbooks or otherwise.
The 1Shanthiroad Cookbook (Reliable Copy, 2020), edited by Suresh Jayaram, is now available at Printed Matter and other booksellers.
Special Edition: 🖌️Artists’ Signatures ✍️
In this special edition, we investigate what artists’ signatures actually mean, and the fascinating results reveal the multifaceted history of this curious phenomenon.
What Is a Signature in the Internet Age?
As a cryptographic unit for record-keeping, an NFT can be seen as analogous to a signature or an autograph.
The Public Theater Explores the Hurricane Katrina Diaspora in shadow/land
Written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza and directed by Candis C. Jones, this lyrical meditation on legacy, erotic fugitivity, and self-determination is on view in NYC.
The Meaning of Ancient Greek and Roman Artisan Signatures
What did a signature mean in the ancient world, and how much can we trust what they seem to tell us?
Michelangelo’s Signature and the Myth of Genius
Michelangelo served as a stellar example for future artists who sought status and economic independence.
The Rubin Museum Presents Death Is Not the End
Tibetan Buddhist and Christian works of art made across 12 centuries explore death, the afterlife, and the desire to continue to exist. On view in NYC.
Uncovering the Photographer Behind Arshile Gorky’s Most Famous Painting
As we pursue photographer Hovhannes Avedaghayan a fascinating picture begins to emerge of him and the world of which he was part.
100 Years of Artist Signatures in a Detroit Club
The beams in Detroit’s Scarab Club act as a guest book of sorts, carrying a wealth of stories and history, including signatures by Diego Rivera, Marcel Duchamp, Margaret Bourke-White, Isamu Noguchi, and others.
When I Am Empty Please Dispose of Me Properly
Ayanna Dozier, Ilana Harris-Babou, Meena Hasan, Lucia Hierro, Catherine Opie, Chuck Ramirez, and Pacifico Silano explore the myths of the American Dream at Brooklyn’s BRIC House.
The Myth of Agency Around Artists’ Signatures
In an art world built on shifting sands, artists’ signatures become symbols of agency for some, and relics of the past for others.
The Women Artists Commemorated on an NYC Sidewalk
The signatures of Rosa Bonheur, Mary Cassatt, and six other historical women artists are engraved on a small stretch of sidewalk on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
Met Museum Repatriates 15 Objects to India
The sculptures were all at one point sold by the disgraced art dealer Subhash Kapoor.
Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova Placed on Russian “Wanted” List
Tolokonnikova has long been a thorn in the side of Vladimir Putin’s regime.