She realised her urge to tell food stories after finishing her training as a journalist.
Having begun her career as a food writer and critic at 22, writer Sarina Kamini, an Anglo-Indian author settled in Western Australia, was least surprised when food became the theme of her book Spirits in a Spice Jar that let her introspect. “I think food chose me,” she says, adding, “My family is very sensory. My elder brother plays music and works in fashion. My younger brother is an artist and tattooist. Mum and Dad are fashion designers. My ammi was a tailor. Touch, texture and colour are a part of our family story. For me, that sensory attachment is to food.”
She realised her urge to tell food stories after finishing her training as a journalist. “Describing taste, texture and cooking processes in words feels like painting — I can see colour and smell aromas and feel the pleasure of it all. Writing about food allows me to express myself through a medium I intrinsically understand,” explains Sarina.
A person who dreamt of writing a book since primary school, she started it in her mid-30s when she began to feel that she had the emotional and life experiences to say what she wanted to say, and communicate her story without apology.
Twelve months have been spent on writing Spirits in a Spice Jar, around work and family commitments. By the end of a year of writing, she had lost weight and energy. “The book is me. It was a very hard time for my family, as the book took so much of me. I had to relive everything in order to get the words on the page. I feel that all of the choices I’ve made in my life have led me to the point of writing this book.”
She used to imagine sitting and writing in a room surrounded by a concrete wall. “That way I felt that I could write what I needed without fear. I was so scared of hurting the people whom I loved, but the story was so big inside me that it just had to get out. Writing the book was my way of expunging the grief and trauma. And it’s worked. I’m a different person now. Much lighter. Removing that story has given me room to grow and develop as a woman and as a human,” says Sarina, who can be found among trees, and indulges in nude swimming in the Margaret river. “All of that commitment to nature is, to me, like having an additional puja practice that I can carry outside my mandir and into my daily life,” she concludes.