A 19th century adage contends that one cannot taste Bengali vegetarian cooking’s full glory unless your own wife becomes a widow. It’s a florid, slightly fetishistic aphorism that centers the pleasure on the eater. The person who said this was, unsurprisingly, a man, and presents evidence of the blunt hypocrisy that has gone unchecked for years: These women suffered just so the rest of us could eat. Their perseverance in the face of adversity—and the embarrassing, atavistic conditions that made their cooking so magnificent—gets obscured.