I received a copy of this book from HarperCollins India. Thank you HCI for making this bibliophile’s day!
Food and love. A pair of two emotions. Yes, food is an emotion.
First dates usually happen over a dinner. (Or breakfast or lunch or tea, I don’t have experience about that). Love can be expressed by gifting chocolates, or baking a cake. So you see, popular culture has us believing that food does play an integral part in the process of falling love with someone.
But what happens when two chefs fall in love? Does their love simmer and die out like a flame without sufficient oxygen? Or does it ignite a passion that doesn’t die out till the end of time?
“Served With Love” is a story of two chefs, Abhimanyu Dev and Pakhi Mehra. How they meet, how they fall in love, what brings them together, what tears them apart.
How they meet and how they fall in love is a story that I feel is common to all love stories. What brings them together, is something I’d like to talk about. Though their common love for cooking and food brings them together at first, what keeps them that way is the entry of a cute little dollop of sunshine, Abhithi. Abhithi is Pakhi’s three year old niece. Pakhi and her father take care of Abhithi, as her parents (i.e. Pakhi’s brother and sister-in-law) passed away in a road accident. Abhithi is the apple of everyone’s eye, and her curly hair and cute dialogues won me over too.
Abhimanyu Dev is forty two years old and single, and intends to stay that way. That is, until the heroine and her niece enter the equation. Pakhi Mehra is devoted to her father and niece, and wants nothing to distract her from her little girl and her work as a chef.
But as time passes by, and the two of them spend more time together, cupid strikes. Sparks fly, yet they always manage to come back together, thanks to gourmet meals, traditional Indian fares (I’ll get back to this point later) and Abhithi.
The plot twist to the story comes when Abhithi is kidnapped. Will Pakhi and Abhimanyu find Abhithi in time? Will their romance bloom out like a bubblegum, or will their love die out the way cut apples turn brown?
Oh no. That’s enough of foodie-similes. Let’s get to my favourite part: analysing the book.
I loved the references of food made in this book. There are also two outstation visits by the lovers (for work visits, wink wink) to Kolkata and Jaipur. I haven’t been to Kolkata, but I could totally enjoy the culinary experience of savouring ‘kakrar jhaal’ and ‘sorshe ilish’ via this book. I have been to Jaipur, and I learnt a lot more about the history of the various Mahals and Forts in Jaipur. The references to Rajasthani cuisine got me throwbacking to the wonderful ‘gatte ki sabzi’ and ‘dal baati choorma’ I had in Jaipur. The precise details in the foodie places in Kolkata and history of the Pink City was well executed by the author.
A pet peeve that arises when I read books by Indian authors is: the language gets too colloquial. The awesome effect of the detailed scenes in Kolkata and Jaipur was ruined by the ‘too-daily-language’ ish dialogues.
When I read the blurb of the book, I honestly felt that the book would have a lot more mystery in it. Many books have the plot twist mentioned in the blurb, and that plot twist forms a more integral part of the story. So, the reader usually expects to read the plot twist within the first 10-25% of the book. But in this case, the plot twist begins almost after 50% of the book gets done. And then, the kidnapping mystery scene gets done too quickly for my liking. But since this book is of the Romance genre, placing extra emphasis on the mystery aspect would have ruined the reader’s experience. Specially for those readers who went into the book expecting more romance and not much mystery. So I won’t cut any marks for that.
Also, Pakhi and Abhimanyu were fashioned to be unpredictable, but it didn’t seem that way. This is a classic example of the show and tell problem. There are instances where Abhimanyu thinks that Pakhi is a bit weird because keeps changing her decisions at a moment’s notice. There are instances where Pakhi claims that Abhimanyu has a mercurial temper. But things like these should never be mentioned explicitly in the dialogue or thoughts of the characters. Or else it will ruin the suspense for the reader.
There are also some things that didn’t seem quite possible. I didn’t pay much attention to it, because I kept reading this book with the assumption that readers of romance genre like this kind of ‘excessive lovey-dovey nonsense’ (In case you’re new here, hi! I’m the most practical person you’ll ever meet). (Spoiler Alert) But that scene where Abhimanyu decides to give the kidnapper the property papers of Dev Intercontinental Mumbai, a property worth 100 crores, for a ransom of 10 crores? Like, really? The commerce student in me couldn’t keep myself from gagging. (Spoiler Alert)
All in all, I give this book a 3.5/5 stars rating. I recommend this book only to people who love reading romance fiction. Not to those people who would like an intellectually stimulating, sapiosexual read.