"A delicious and mouthwatering book about food and family, the complicated love for both, and how that shapes us into who we are . . . I absolutely loved it " --Valerie Bertinelli Rabia Chaudry--known from the podcast Serial and her bestselling book, Adnan's Story, as well as her own wildly popular podcast, Undisclosed--serves up a candid and intimate memoir about food, body image, and growing up in a tight knit but sometimes overly concerned Pakistani immigrant family. "My entire life I have been less fat and more fat, but never not fat." Rabia Chaudry was raised with a lot of love--and that love looked like food. Delicious Pakistani dishes--fresh roti, chaat, pakoras, and shorba--and also Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen, and an abundance of American processed foods, as her family discovered its adopted country through its (fast) food. At the same time, her family was becoming increasingly alarmed about their chubby daughter's future. Most important, how would she ever get married? In Fatty Fatty Boom Boom, Chaudry chronicles the dozens of times she tried and failed to achieve what she was told was her ideal weight. The truth is, though, she always loved food too much to hold a grudge against it. At once an ode to Pakistani cuisine, including Chaudry's favorite recipes; a love letter to her Muslim family both here and in Lahore; and a courageously honest portrait of a woman grappling with a body that gets the job done but refuses to meet the expectations of others. For anyone who has ever been weighed down by their weight-- whatever it is--Chaudry shows us how freeing it is to finally make peace with body we have.
- ISBN-13: 9781643750385
- ISBN-10: 1643750380
- Publisher: Algonquin Books
- Publish Date: November 2022
- Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.05 pounds
- Page Count: 352
The name Rabia Chaudry is back in the news following the September 2022 release of Adnan Syed, the subject of 2014’s “Serial” podcast, from prison. Syed had been imprisoned since 2000 for the alleged murder of his ex-girlfriend, and Chaudry is a family friend who has long maintained his innocence. She even published a book in 2016 about it called Adnan’s Story. But Chaudry’s second book, Fatty Fatty Boom Boom: A Memoir of Food, Fat, and Family, is about a more private pain: her lifelong struggle with overeating and fluctuating weight.
Chaudry unabashedly relishes food. Over many chapters detailing favorite meals enjoyed by her extended family in Pakistan (recipes are included at the end of the book), as well as her favorite American fast foods, the reader will understand why. But this isn’t a simplistic narrative in which the narrator loves to eat and just won’t, or can’t, stop. Much of the memoir explores how colorism and sexism—specifically the fear that Chaudry, born dark-skinned and scrawny, would never attract a husband—put her under the microscope for constant improvement, beginning when her mother put her on a super-high-calorie diet as a newborn. Raw buffalo milk and bottles of half-and-half caused Chaudry’s body to grow at a rapid rate, but once she reached a size that her family deemed unacceptable, their relentless psychological abuse (the book’s title is a nickname her relatives taunted her with) and the accessibility of America’s tastiest junk food ensured that her weight continued to increase.
Chaudry skillfully narrates how overeating was a savior and a curse. Greasy, salty, fatty food made her feel good when nothing else did. Her skill at describing flavors and mouthfeel, and the intricacies of food preparation, suggest that if Chaudry weren't an attorney, she might be a food writer. She also captures the exquisite pain of being treated as a disappointment by her family and the lifelong fight for their love.
Fatty Fatty Boom Boom never reaches an “and then I loved my body!” resolution, and that is the point. That particular happy ending was never coming, and only in adulthood did Chaudry understand that “it’s normal not to love your body. It is also healthy not to hate your body.”