May Issue 2012

By | Food | Life Style | Published 12 years ago

Shanaz Ramzi’s Food Prints: An Epicurean Voyage Through Pakistan is more than just a cookbook. It is a celebration of both the diversity and heritage of Pakistani cuisine and, therefore, it was only fitting that Oxford University Press, with the assistance of City Owner’s Welfare Association (COWA), held the book launch at the historical Frere Hall in Karachi.

Guests were first treated to popular Pakistani snacks such as dosas, chapli kebabs, lassi, jalebis and gola gandas in the garden, against the backdrop of the beautifully lit Frere Hall. The event began promptly on time — a rare occurrence in Pakistan — and chef Shaista Qazi, popularly known as chef Shai, hosted the event. Chef Shai praised Shanaz Ramzi for writing a book on Pakistani cuisine and spoke of how there is a dearth of Pakistani cookbooks in the West. When she lived in Manhattan, she frequently browsed through the cookbooks section at Barnes & Nobles only to find several books on Indian and Asian cuisines, but none from Pakistan. In her speech, Ameena Saiyid, managing director of OUP, said that the book also provides an ethnography and lexicon of Pakistani food.

Finally, Shanaz Ramzi spoke about the inception of the book. Initially OUP approached her to write a book on Pakistani food for children but when OUP’s policy on picturebooks changed, they had to abandon the project. By then Ramzi was already devoted to the idea and spoke to OUP about continuing with the project, this time for a more general audience. The book took nearly seven years to complete and Ramzi revealed some the reasons for the delay, which ranged from changing NWFP to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa throughout the book to the theft of her laptop.

The event was a truly classy affair and credit goes to lawn manufacturers, ICON and leading advertising agency, BBCL for stepping up to sponsor a book launch.

This article was originally published in the May issue of Newsline under the headline “Our Culinary Heritage.”

Shahid-ur-Rehman has been covering economics and finance as a journalist for three decades.