Julie & Julia, Betty Crocker and “Premila Lal”

Sourish Bhattacharyya uses the release of Meryl Streep‘s latest film Julie & Julia to talk about India’s best known nom de cuisine, in Mail Today:

“Many years ago, when a journalist working with a leading newspaper in the country was asked to write a cookery column, she chose the name “Premila Lal” because she did not want the column to impede the progress of her career as a serious writer.

“Little did she know that her pen name would take over her life and Premila Lal, the acclaimed cookbook writer, would become an essential part of the trousseau of every newly wed woman at a particular point of time.

“Premila Lal’s story is somewheat similar to that of Betty Crocker, the big difference being that the name that has sold many million copies of the American cookbook is purely the invention of a publisher. There has been no Betty Crocker—it’s not even the pen name of a real person.

“But Julia Child (played by Streep in Nora Ephron‘s film) was real and she made French food a fashion statement in the US after the publication of her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 1981. [And so is Julie Powell] for her blog where she recounted her adventures in the kitchen with Julia Child’s recipes.”

So, who was Premila Lal?

Kiki Watsa.

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