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By Nitish S. Rele

“EATING LIKE QUEENS: A GUIDE TO ETHNIC DINING IN AMERICA’S MELTING POT, QUEENS, NEW YORK,” by Suzanne Parker; 226 pages; $16.95; published by Jones Books (

If you are planning a trip to New York City during the holidays or thereafter, you should check out “Eating Like Queens” by Suzanne Parker. The restaurant critic and food reporter for The times Ledger newspapers offers the reader a tour of a myriad of dishes and cuisines available across this international borough.

The book explores such cuisines as Chinese, Korean, Indian Indonesian, Brazilian, Egyptian, and Moroccan among several others. But it is the South Asia chapter (divided into north, west, south and east) that attracted our attention. Parker lists some of the restaurants that cater to each of these regions. She is thoughtful enough to write in details about Indian sweets such as kheer, halva, laddoo, kulfi and burfi, as well as tea, mango juice and lassi. A comprehensive glossary can be of big help to readers unfamiliar with some of the food terms.

In her introduction, Parker notes that in South Asia, Pakistan and India may be threatening each other with nukes, but in Jackson Heights they’re all shopping in the same stores. She points out that Queens is the most multicultural county in the United States, which probably makes it the most multicultural county in the world. “The New York State comptroller estimates 138 languages are spoken there,” she says.

Parker met her British husband at a London Indian restaurant. “I was not yet familiar with authentic Indian cuisine, and the spiciness was unanticipated, at least by me,” she writes.

“It was back in the days when it was fashionable to wear lots of eyeliner on both the upper and lower lids. By the time we had finished our meal, I was mortified to discover long streaks of black eyeliner running down my cheeks, caused by tears in reaction to the spices. This evidently didn’t put off my suitor, as our marriage has lasted for 30-plus years and still counting. My tolerance for spicy foods has gradually increased over the years so that, although I shy away from the truly incendiary, I could now easily consume the same dinner as on our first date without shedding a tear.”

As they say, all’s well that ends well.

Author Details Ideal American Family’s Battle with Mental Illness
By Nitish S. Rele

“I Want My Son Back,” by Uma Eyyunni, 208 pages, $13.50; Published by AuthorHouse.

Many people appear to be healthy on the surface, but inside an unseen sickness can grow that often leaves family and friends at a loss. Uma Eyyunni of St. Augustine explores the scary world of mental illness in her new novel, “I Want My Son Back: A Mother’s Cry.”

Set in a quiet suburban town, the novel follows one family as its members deal with the changes in the oldest son. Anna and Robert believe they have a picture-perfect life. They have good jobs and two bright sons. Then Kevin is involved in an accident at age 18. He suffers little physical injury, but the family’s ideal American life is shattered when his behavior begins to change. The shift is subtle and goes unnoticed until the stress of college brings it to the forefront. Kevin is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and their journey toward restoring normalcy begins.

A role model for his younger brother, Andrew, Kevin was always sensitive and tried to please others. This new Kevin falls into depression and fits of rage. The stress from this tricky illness threatens to tear the family apart, and Anna longs for the darling boy she once knew. Once totally involved in her sons’ lives, she is frustrated by the lack of control she has over her son’s well-being.

“I Want My Son Back,” Eyyunni’s first novel, looks at the struggle people must endure when loved ones are faced with mental illness.

A native of India, Eyyunni moved to the United States with a master’s degree in otolaryngology in 1976. She married a general surgeon, practiced medicine full time and raised two children. She has published poetry in English and in three Indian languages in addition to writing ballets, one of which was televised in India.

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