The Making of Return to the Rivers: Manuscript Phase
In this series we'll show you the behind the scenes process of making a cookbook from the publisher's perspective. We’re very excited to work with Vikas Khanna again for Return to the Rivers. Inspired by a chance meeting with the Dalai Lama, Khanna embarked on a journey through the river valleys into the heart of Himalayan cooking. Traveling through Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet, northern India, Myanmar, western China, and Pakistan left an impression on Khanna. The resulting book is an incredible collection of recipes, photos, and memories as a means to preserve and share the sacred foodways, values, and simple gifts of friendship that the Himalayan people bestowed upon him.
In the manuscript, Khanna writes "In the interest of authenticity I have tried to preserve most of the recipes the way I found them and only made slight adjustments to make it possible to recreate them in a Western kitchen. My desire was to document mostly what average people are actually eating on a daily basis."
Look forward to simple dishes that come from great care and heart like: Eggplant Fritters with Ginger, Spinach and Cheese Momos, and Burmese Fish Noodle Soup. As in his last book, Flavors First, Khanna did all the incredible food and travel photography himself.
Editor Jenn Sit is hard at work reviewing Return to the Rivers. In this early stage, she looks at everything from larger organizational issues and overall content to the language and style of the headnotes. We also work with an amazing outside copy editor whose job is to go through the manuscript with a finetooth comb and makie sure everything, from the way measurements are called for to how you're directed to deep-fry, is consistent and correct throughout. With each editing pass, questions and comments will be raised and brought to the attention of the author.
We do a lot of our jobs via computer screen, but with this part of the editing process, nothing beats pen to paper.
Jenn on cookbook editing: "All day, I'm cooking in my head. As I read through the recipes, I imagine each step in my mind and so when something seems unclear or missing, I query it. A well-written recipe should be so easy to follow that you don't even notice the work that went into writing it. I love when an author's recipe sounds so good that I have to make it that night for dinner. The goal of course is to end up with recipes that are not only clear and concise, but especially in a book such as this, to create a whole reading and cooking experience that brings these cultures and places to life. "
Return to the Rivers is still in its infancy and will be pored over again and again and put into a fantastic layout by our designers. But right now, these 360 pages of 12pt Times New Roman have to get through Jenn first.