Colorful Palate: A Flavorful Journey Through a Mixed American Experience

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Product Details
$24.95  $23.20
Fordham University Press
Publish Date
5.9 X 9.1 X 0.6 inches | 0.71 pounds

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About the Author
Raj Tawney is a writer and journalist whose work largely reflects his New York-area upbringing and sensibility. Raised in an Indian, Puerto Rican, and Italian-American household, Tawney has explored his own race and identity through stories published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC News, USA Today, Smithsonian magazine, and many other outlets throughout the country.
Raj's memoir about food, class and race in New York is not your usual upper-class, upper-caste, Indian story. Here is an Indian who is equally Puerto Rican as much as Italian. A kid raised well on Arroz Negro, Insalata di Mare and Tandoori chicken. Read it and cook from it to figure out what it might mean to be authentically American.---Krishnendu Ray, Professor of Food Studies at NYU and the author of The Ethnic Restaurateur and The Migrant's Table
A lovingly wrought and deliciously intimate memoir that captures the stupendous mélange that is Tawney's American life (and ours). A feast for the mind, a banquet for the heart, as generous as hospitality and as unforgettable as your favorite meal.---Junot Díaz, author of This is How You Lose Her
Being an immigrant myself, I have always appreciated the cultural diversity and acceptance of it in the United States. Raj Tawney is born American and, in this delightful book, he relates to his identity, his life, and growing up in three cultures. The recipes that follow in each chapter are a delicious recall of memories and flavors of each culture. He connects to his roots with tenderness, appreciation, and understanding of his multiethnic family that ends in the kitchen cooking those favorite recipes. Overcoming, with understanding, some of the difficulties he encountered as a multiethnic child growing up, he knows that there are many young Americans that are of different cultural blends as he is and that is evermore what America is, and what makes America the great country it is. A great read, the tasteful recipes are the bonus.---Lidia Bastianich
Raj Tawney's Colorful Palate is a delicious, charming, and winning coming-of-age story that is authentically American in exploring the messy, beautiful, painful, and ultimately rewarding contradictions of trying to expand stifling boundaries to accommodate and celebrate the multi-hyphenated experiences of those who are often relegated to the margins.---Wajahat Ali, author of Go Back to Where You Came From: And Other Helpful Recommendations on How to Become American

Raj Tawney deftly explores his culturally-rich upbringing, unearthing pivotal answers to one of the most fascinating questions in the world: who am I?

Through a captivating mix of intimate stories of family, tradition and flavor, he paints a poignant portrait of identity and what it really means to be an American. Coupled with mouth-watering recipes that reflect his multifaceted heritage and his respect for food, Colorful Palate is a touching example of the power we can all yield when we embrace our roots as we partake in--to use Tawney's words--the 'Great American Experiment'.

---John Leguizamo
Too often in America, we are asked to put ourselves into boxes and categories that reduce us to just one aspect of our identity. In Colorful Palate, Raj Tawney rejects the notion that folks with intersectional identities have to choose which aspects to highlight, and which to set aside. He artfully maps the many facets of his own identity: the ethnicities, relationships and meals that shaped him. In doing so, he shows us that both our plates, and our pages, can and should reflect the multitudes we contain. As a new mom to a baby with Indian, Jewish, Irish, and Italian roots, I am so grateful that this book will grace our shelves, and offer a map to my daughter for how to honor her own intersectional story.---Neema Avashia, author of Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place
In the introduction to this linear, food-based memoir, journalist Tawney writes, 'So, what am I? A magnificent concoction conceived in a pivotal period in late-twentieth-century America.' Born to a Puerto Rican and Italian mother and an Indian father, the author has been profoundly shaped by the racist assumptions built into a world unwilling to accept families 'undefined by a single group or birthright.' Even when he was young, he writes, 'I knew somehow that I was entering a world that wouldn't easily digest me . . .-- "Kirkus Reviews"
Raj's honest and reflective writing grapples with the raw complexities and beauty of embracing one's identity and allows any reader to draw a seat and be welcomed with love and joy at his family's kitchen table.---Diana Liu, New York State English Council
This is a lovely foodie memoir highlighting moments in Raj Tawney's life and associated food memories from his Indian, Puerto Rican, and Italian American family. It's a quick but meaningful and immersive read, and I love that Tawney included so many recipes written in a way that feels like they were passed down from relatives. If you love books about food, you won't be disappointed. 5 stars.---Susie Dumond, reviewer, 5 stars
Infused with passion and brio, [Colorful Palate] highlights the pros and cons of being a multiracial nonconformist in a society that values fitting in. Tawney's rearview-mirror look at his formative years leaves him grateful--for strong family role models and small moments shared with his loved ones. And the book includes a family recipe at the end of each chapter in remembrance of the gustatory pleasures it recounts . . . A memoir about rejecting conformity to lead a colorful, authentic life.---Kristine Morris, Foreword Reviews
In his first book, journalist Tawney examines his Indian, Puerto Rican, and Italian American heritage and upbringing through the culinary expertise of his family and friends. Tawney's Puerto Rican and Italian American mother learned to make popular Indian dishes when she married Tawney's father. (Similarly, his Puerto Rican grandmother learned Italian cooking when she married Tawney's Italian American grandfather.) Excelling at different cuisines helped them bridge differences between cultures. The author writes with clarity and humor about growing up in the 1990s and 2000s in a comfortable--not lavish--childhood home in Long Island, NY, loving hip-hop so much that he pursued, on and off, a music career during his college days. After graduation, his experience explaining technology to his grandmother resulted in a job working at a home for senior citizens, where he formed solid friendships. Each chapter of this memoir ends with a theme-fitting recipe for such items as tandoori chicken, spaghetti and meatballs, and rainbow cookies. VERDICT A heartfelt memoir. The author's ability to follow his passions and find his place in the world will resonate with many readers, especially those interested in multicultural narratives.---Laurie Unger Skinner, Library Journal
Raj takes us on an intimate journey of beautifully told stories that dive into his childhood of growing up mixed race in America. It's thought-provoking, as well as delicious, with each chapter, uncovering assumptions and exploring family, culture, and race.---Carla Hall
[A] heartfelt and appetite-inspiring memoir.---Ashley Anna-Aboreden, Miami New Times
Food is not only a way for Raj Tawney to tap into his cultural roots, but he sees it as a gateway for people to explore other cultures comfortably.---Liz Tracy, Miami New Times
Tawney employs dry wit and self-deprecating humor in a memoir that bears his disappointments and joys. It is a quick and affirming memoir for readers who identify as multiracial, as well as allies and advocates of diversity.---Maileen Hamto, Seattle Book Review
Chronicling his coming of age through the recipes, music, clothes, and New York City that shaped him, Tawney's Colorful Palate is a loving look at food and family that doesn't shy away from interrogating race and identity.---Anna Lasek, PEN America
In Raj Tawney's captivating memoir, Colorful Palate: A Flavorful Journey Through a Mixed American Experience, readers are treated to a poignant exploration of identity, family, and cultural diversity... a celebration of diversity and resilience that I believe readers will appreciate.---JD Jung, Underrated Reads
Tawney's story is an intimate exploration of race and identity as he welcomes you into his family's kitchen, allowing you to relive his journey of blending in.---Shruti Thundiyil, Brown Girl Bookshelf
We experience so much political negativity when it comes to issues of immigration and identity. The great Raj Tawney reminds us of the glory of these things, and he does it by way of the kitchen. This is the perfect time to grab your copy of Colorful Palate: A Flavorful Journey Through a Mixed American Experience.---Dave Pell, Next Draft
Food is an anchor in this coming of age story which explores Tawney's relationship with his family from childhood to adulthood ... This is a book that shows food as emotional, cultural, and sometimes just caloric sustenance--but always centers what it means to share these experiences with the people who make us who we are.---Wendy J. Fox, Electric Literature
The absolute humanity and humor of [Tawney's] writing, in a blended multicultural family, seems so refreshing in a time of stark American division over questions of race and affiliation. It's a beautiful book. Five stars. A great choice for public or secondary school + library acquisition, for fans of memoirs, and a must for foodies.-- "Nonstop Reader"