Often reading, writing, or teaching. Always cooking, baking, and eating. Words in Human Parts, Curious, Modern Parent. Connect on Twitter @purnima_mani

This Is Us

Cookbook authors can help heal the many, many things that ail us this year

A stack of cookbooks from the author’s personal collection.
Photo courtesy of the author.

In any given year, by the time December rolls around, I find myself in a weird place — simultaneously full of heightened anticipation and totally done with everything. Buzzing with energy, but also… ugh… over it already. Is it just me?

That’s during an average year. This year… let’s just…

A non-exhaustive, slightly random, but nevertheless useful list

Photo: Shutterstock.com

This post assumes you have already cast your ballot in the 2020 US general election, if you are eligible to do so. If that hasn’t happened yet, please replace this entire list with a single agenda item: VOTE.

For everyone else, here’s how you cope:

  1. Don’t go on social media.

Why are my race and citizenship suddenly at war with each other?

Photo: Shutterstock.com

My first experience with American racism happened in India. At the age of eighteen, after coasting through life thus far with dual citizenship, I had to choose. Did I want an Indian passport or a US passport? It felt oddly traitorous, declaring allegiance to one country while living in another…

This Is Us

My son’s curiosity prompted a Facebook survey — followed by a personal reckoning

Photo: Adela Srinivasan/Getty Images

I have two kids, both boys. One seems offended by the idea of mealtime as a general concept. The only exceptions that make him perk up at the table are 1) Swiss chard pancakes; 2) mac and cheese; or 3) dal and rice. No carb-fanatic stereotypes happening there, clearly.


Life today is full of new stresses — figuring out what’s for dinner shouldn’t be one of them

When COVID-19 lockdown fell on us like an unwelcome weighted blanket almost six(!) months(!) ago(!), like everyone else, I teetered between disbelief, despair, and a feeling of total helplessness. Without warning, it felt like the shape of our days had been yanked away, and in its place was…nothing. No plans…

Baking elaborate weekly desserts seemed foolish, but was exactly what our family needed

Growing up, my mother’s recipe notebook with its smart blue and white gingham cover fascinated me endlessly. A farewell gift from her friend Jan, the book was presented to my parents when they left the United States in 1982 to return to India. The first several pages of the notebook…

How I proudly became part of a 2020 lockdown cliche

Let’s start in the middle with this narrative, shall we? So a little over a week ago, I drove to my friend Karen’s house to pick up some sourdough starter. She had it ready for me in a little Tupperware, placed on her front stoop following social distancing protocols, secured…

Purnima Mani

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