(Elizabeth M. Collingham, Lizzie Collingham)
Female. Education: Attended Jesus College, Cambridge University.
Agent—Gillon Aitken Associates, 18-21 Cavaye Pl., London SW10 9PT, England.
Freelance scholar and author. University of Warwick, Warwick, England, former faculty member in department of history; Jesus College, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, former research fellow.
Imperial Bodies: The Physical Experience of the Raj, c. 1800-1947, Blackwell (Malden, MA), 2001.
A former history professor who now works as a freelance scholar and writer, E.M. Collingham drew particular critical attention for her second book, Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors. In her unique study of microhistory, Collingham discusses the historical interactions between the British Empire and India, which resulted in the creation of many unique culinary dishes. As Aravind Adiga pointed out in a Time International review of the book, dishes such as chicken tikka masala, which many in Britain think is an Indian recipe, were actually the result of an Indian cook who tried to satisfy British palettes by combining tomato soup with Indian spices. The result was a popular dish for the English, but hardly authentic Indian cuisine. In this "lovely new book," Adiga summarized, Collingham "makes the surprising discovery that most of Indian cuisine is, in fact, a mongrel creation." Indeed, the word "curry" was coined by the British to label a mix of Indian spices that Indians themselves describe by the individual spices, not the combination of them. New Statesman reviewer Bee Wilson pointed out that the author at times "exaggerates the awfulness of non-currified British food" and added that Collingham fails to address the "many other influences" on English food from other lands, especially Europe. "For all that," Wilson concluded, "this is a thoroughly absorbing book, packed with fascinating stories." Nicole Mitchell, writing in Library Journal, asserted that "Collingham successfully depicts the vivid history of Indian foods and cooking."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 15, 2006, Mark Knobalauch, review of Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors, p. 23.
Bookseller, July 29, 2005, review of Curry, p. 40; August 19, 2005, "Old Spice: Hot Reviews for Curry Biography," review of Curry, p. 36; February 24, 2006, "What We Ate in the War," review of Curry, p. 13.
Guardian (London, England), August 27, 2005, Kathryn Hughes, "The Spice of Life," review of Curry.
Library Journal, January 1, 2006, Nicole Mitchell, review of Curry, p. 145.
New Statesman, August 1, 2005, Bee Wilson, "Mixed Spice," review of Curry, p. 40.
New York Times Book Review, February 5, 2006, Alison McCulloch, "Nonfiction Chronicle," review of Curry, p. 18.
Time International, March 27, 2006, Aravind Adiga, review of Curry, p. 62.