Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Bascove's compilation "Sustenance and Desire: A Food Lover's Anthology of Sensuality and Humor" is our next Cook the Books selection, and it features poems, excerpts from novels and autobiographies, short stories and essays that are grouped according to the editor's themes of Nourishment, Desire, Hunger and Sustenance.
Perhaps you will be entranced by a poem by Billy Collins, Natasha Saje or Richard Wilbur. Perhaps Colette's lush prose will entice you. Maybe the siren song stylings of Nabokov and memories of mushroom picking with his mother will lead you to the kitchen. (I am a little worried about whether one of our participants will be inspired by Margaret Visser's essay "The Artificial Cannibal")
Whatever selection you choose from this book, I look forward to receiving your posts about the book and what dish(es) you were inspired to make by the deadline of February 2, 2015. As always, anyone is welcome to join our regular participants here at Cook the Books.
Rachel, The Crispy Cook
Friday, December 5, 2014
It's time for the roundup of Cook the Books' Club October-November 2014 edition for which we read That Old Ace in the Hole by Annie Proulx.
For each contribution (given in order of publication), I will give you the official information (author, blog name and post title) and a brief quote from it — a teaser that will entice you to follow the link and read the details of the dish prepared and of how the reading inspired the activity in the kitchen.
Now, please, make yourself comfortable, then follow me on a little literary / culinary journey to an lesser-known area of the US.
Debra's mother grew up almost in the Oklahoma panhandle, so she has a first-hand experience of the environment described so vividly in the novel. "I still remember the arid dustiness of that time, huge grasshoppers that would rub your legs like sandpaper when you disturbed them, and always being aware and on the lookout for snakes. I also remember the colorful community members. This is a saga and worthy of the vastness of the barren prairie." Debra was attracted to Cy's Onion Pie, not quiche: "the guys here would not eat if I called it that, but if I say onion pie they like it. It’s the word pie."
A great Thank you! to everyone who joined in this edition of Cook the Books.
I believe all the submissions I have received are presented in the roundup. However, mishaps are part of life, so if you find anything missing or in need of amendment anywhere in the roundup, please do let me know.
And now, I’ll turn things over to Rachel of The Crispy Cook for the December 2014-January 2015 selection: Sustenance and Desire: A Food Lover's Anthology of Sensuality and Humor by Bascove (2004).
Monday, November 24, 2014
Here are our next round of Cook the Books selections to kick off 2015 reading and cooking season. Your hosts Rachel, Deb, Simona, and Debra have picked out the following books for your inspiration and we can't wait to see what delectable dishes they inspire.
Here are the titles we have picked and why we chose them in each host's own words:
December 2014 / January 2015 Round, hosted by Rachel of The Crispy Cook
Sustenance and Desire: A Food Lover's Anthology of Sensuality and Humor by Bascove. (2004)
February / March 2015 Round, hosted by Deb of Kahakai Kitchen:
Comfort Me With Apples: More Adventures at the Table by Ruth Reichl (2001)
"Longtime Cook the Books participant and my fellow Hawaii dweller Claudia of Honey From Rock requested we read a Ruth Reichl book a while back and so my pick this round is dedicated to Claudia. It was not difficult to choose Ruth Reichl, but picking just one of her books to read was a bit harder. I read and reviewed her first fiction book 'Delicious!' this year and enjoyed it but it made me really want to go back and reread one of her memoirs. I love learning how people get to their chosen dream foodie career and so I finally selected 'Comfort Me With Apples'--which tells of her journey from chef to food writer. Although this book takes up after her first book, 'Tender at the Bone' it isn't necessary to have read that one first (although it is wonderful too). This may be a reread for many of you too, but I look forward to seeing what this both funny and moving memoir inspires you to create."
April / May 2015 Round, hosted by Debra of EliotsEats:
The Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 a week) by Robin Mather. (2011)
Deadline for this selection is Monday, June 1st.
June / July 2015 Round hosted by Simona of Briciole:
The Wedding Bees: A Novel of Honey, Love, and Manners by Sarah-Kate Lynch (2014)
"A few years ago, I read 'Blessed Are the Cheesemakers' by Sarah-Kate Lynch and quite enjoyed it. In fact, I featured it in a post. I therefore grabbed on to Betty's suggestion (link to our suggested reading page) to read another novel by Sarah-Kate Lynch, The Wedding Bees. 'Sugar Wallace has been running from her past for years, but in the nicest possible way.' Me: is there really a nice way of running from one's past? If so, I want to hear about it. 'Every spring she moves somewhere new and lightens the lives of whoever she meets using her magic weapons: good manners and honey.' Me: that sounds like a great plan. I want to read Sugar's secret. This is enough for me to want to learn more about Sugar and her honey. I was already a cheese maker when I read Blessed Are the Cheesemakers: who knows, maybe reading The Wedding Bees will get me interested in becoming a beekeper. Sweet reading!"
We hope you join us for some great reading, cooking and community. As always, we welcome everyone to join in. The only requirement to join in the Cook the Books fun is to read the book and blog about it, including making a dish inspired by its pages.
Friday, October 24, 2014
The deadline for publishing your post inspired by That Old Ace in the Hole is Tuesday, December 2nd
When you publish your post (or posts), you can leave a comment to this post or email me at simosite AT mac DOT com. Feel free to write a comment or email message, should you have any questions.
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
A Round Up of Venetian Inspired Dishes: A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena De Blasi (August/September 2014 Selection)
I spent, though not a thousand days in Venice, time enough to understand her appeal. Yes, I wrote 'her'. Venice, the Dame. La Serenissima. The most serene. There is something magical about an entire city that exists on the water.
I loved how Marlena allowed the "stranger" to sweep her away. I also loved how, being more mature, she had limited expectations of what a move to Europe would mean and was only slightly disillusioned by the whole thing. I loved all her experiences at the market place and I felt for her trying to live without all the conveniences with which she was accustomed.
In Italian, to get married is sposarsi. We don't use the metaphorical expression "to tie the knot" (literally, fare un nodo). The current selection of our Cook the Books, A Thousand Days in Venice in which author Marlena de Blasi talks about her marriage to a Venetian man, brought to mind the expression. My passion for turning pasta dough into interesting shapes did the rest: I tried to tie pasta dough into small simple knots and the result was pleasing.
Pleasing, indeed, Simona!
I loved the imagery of the story. The descriptions of the places and the foods makes me desperately want to visit Venice and experience it for all it is. Despite that, I had trouble connecting with Marlena. I’m not sure if it was because I spend most of the book thinking it was a novel (versus a memoir) or just because I’m at a very different stage of life than she is (she’s older and divorced with grown children, I’m younger, married, and my kids are young.)
An exuberant American chef with flamboyant taste in textiles falls inexplicably in love with a repressed Italian bank clerk with daddy issues, and through him falls explicably in love with Venice.
For me, de Blasi just couldn't quite convey why she was attracted to her stranger. She herself seems like a glorious broad who I'd love to go drinking with, but he remained a mystery. But then, this is a memoir, not a romance, and other people's relationships are often a bit baffling. I never understand how people who really like food end up with people who don't much care what they eat.
When it was not raining I prowled the Rialto Market, fascinated with its glorious riot of vegetables and freshly caught seafood. I wandered the dank callees and discovered the local wine bars, among them, Vino Vino, which is mentioned in the first pages of the book. It was near my hotel and became my favorite place to stop by for a warming glass of red wine and nibbles of the appertivos lined up behind the glass window. With only a dozen seats and flanking a canal, the place offered a cozy respite from the damp chill outside.
I liked the fact that De Blasi isn't some young thing and had lived a full life before finally finding love with her "stranger" but, I couldn't quite get the immediate appeal of a somewhat needy, slightly stalker-ish Peter Sellers. (A somewhat needy slightly stalker-ish George Clooney or Liam Neeson maybe...)
If Marlena was your friend, would you think her decision was a bit strange or “as a friend,” would you be supportive of her decision each and every step of the way?
I especially appreciated it as a later-in-life love story, being later-in-life myself, as well as a sucker for lovely fairy tales come true. And, so descriptive, so well written. The woman is a poet.I, however, think Claudia might just be the poet.
Life is not completely perfect, a real fairy tale has an underside. Melding cultures and personalities is never easy, especially for mature folks, set in their ways. Which is actually a good thing. A jolting out of ruts and character flaw stagnation, into something better, new and stronger, without either partner becoming diminished. Marriage is meant to do that, and beautiful when it does.Here is her rendition of de Blasi's Walnut Sauce.
Rachel from The Crispy Cook enjoyed the book.
Marlena seems a larger-than-life character and has a bit of bravado, after suffering a tortuous first marriage and a "grim childhood, scattered here and there with the hideous". As a fellow romantic, I rooted for her to make things work with Fernando and sighed with pleasure when they did. It was not a shudderingly violent sort of love affair, but one that was quiet and sure: "Now all the doors are open, and there is a warm yellow light behind them." Ah.
As Camilla is always the first to post, I am usually the last.
It wasn't hard for me to pick a recipe. I love pasta. I love mushrooms. I love wine. (It was just hard for me to find the time to make the recipe. It didn't help matters that I misplaced my copy of the book. For the last two weeks, I have been searching frantically. Of course, I had put it in a very safe place.)
I made Braised Mushrooms with Homemade Tagliatelle (based on de Blasi's "Wild Mushrooms in Late-Harvest Wine").
To sum up, I think some of us "more seasoned" readers identified more with de Blasi even though we were all a little confused about the attraction. I think we all loved her descriptions of Venice and the food references and recipes. I leave it to you whether or not you follow the rest of Marlena and Fernando's adventures in Italy as chronicled in her other books.
Again, thank you for participating in this round of CTB.Please join Cook the Books for the October/November selection: That Old Ace in the Hole by Annie Proulx and hosted by Simona of briciole. I started this book as soon as Simona announced her selection and I have to say, "I LOVE IT." I love Proulx' writing style and the description of the scenery of the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles. But, I have said enough.