Saturday, October 1, 2016

August/September Round-Up: The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo

Welcome Frida-philes!   Cook the Books partnered with  Food 'n Flix this month for a Fridafest!  

I hosted The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo by F.G. Haghenbeck, a book which takes Frida's life and weaves it into a magical, mystical and surrealistic work of fiction.  Some loved the book and some not so much.  I think the same is true for Frida's works of art---they either speak to you or not.
Here's the round up for the August/September edition of Cook the Books with lots of Mexican inspired dishes.

Amy from Amy's Cooking Adventures was first to post up with a delicious and practical Slow Cooker Chcken Mole.  
loved the story and found Frida incredibly fascinating.  It also got me curious about Frida Kahlo and sent me fact searching all over the internet and library (I watched the movie (recipe coming up next month), grabbed a recipe book (I made Squash Blossom Quesadillas), and picked up a copy of her biography).  Fact of fiction, Frida Kahlo lead a very interesting life.
Congratulations, Amy, on now being a Frida-phile.

Camilla from Culinary Adventures was next up with Mole Poblano.  
While Camilla didn't love the book itself, she "immensely enjoyed the recipes in the book. Whether they were her actual recipes, or not, they sounded delicious."   She was able to make this a family affair.  "And out of pure serendipity, during the month when this book was assigned for Cook the Books, I attended a mole cooking class with several of our friends. This is the recipe we learned and not one of the ones included in the book. But I thought it was still timely and wanted to share it."

I concur with some other readers that was too much food to keep track of in the novel but I was star-struck by all the famous people Frida and Diego interacted with in the novel (and in real life). Nelson Rockefeller, Georgia O'Keeffe, Leon Trotsky, Dali, Picasso, Breton, and Nickolas Muray all make appearances (just to name a few).   I was taken with Frida's meeting with Picasso as depicted in the novel:
Picasso’s singing was pleasant.  
Frida loved his serenade.

‘If you teach that to me, I’ll sing you Mexican songs.  The kind in which pain bubbles up from the soul. And if we’re still up at dawn, I’ll prepare you a Mexican breakfast.  I’ll make enchiladas and yellow beans,’ Frida said, and Picasso agreed with a nod of the head.
Actually, the recipe that went along with this chapter was not enchiladas and yellow beans but Huevo Rancheros.  I decided to use the base recipe and made Huevo Rancheros with Chorizo.  

Wendy and  Claudia both posted on September 8 so I am listing you two in alphabetical order.  

Claudia, from Honey From Rock, thought the book was a bit odd.
In spite of the awkwardness of  the writing (due partly to translation?) and fictionalized bits, dream sequences, etc., it seems to be a true enough rendering, at least in spirit, of Frida's life, according to her more accurate biography, Frida by Hayden Herrera, upon which the movie was based.
I totally agree that Herrera's biography is a must read if you are interested in a more realistic view of her life.    That being said, Frida inspired Claudia to revisit a mole recipe from Frida's Fiestas.  Here's her recipe for Pork Medallions in Dark Chocolate Sauce.

Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm did a combined post for CTB and FnF.   She confessed she did not know a lot about Kahlo before these two events.   The book left her wanting to know more about the "true Frida."    

She was inspired by a scene early in the book from Frida's childhood:
I had chosen the recipe I was going to make early in the reading of the novel.  The novel did contain recipes in the body of the story as well as recipes recreated to be user friendly at the back of the book. This recipe was not one of those reproduced by the author, however it spoke to me as it was Frida's childhood favorite....before the accident, before her marriage, before life turned south on her.
Wendy contributed Polyvorones de naranja (Orange Shortbreads), treats left for Frida by her older sister, Matilde.  

Great minds thing alike and Heather from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen was also inspired by polyvorones and used her post for both this round and the Food 'n Flix round.   Heather found it hard to connect with the book, possibly because of the translation or possibly because of the point of view of the male author.  The depiction of food in the novel was a saving grace for her.
There were really too many things mentioned for me to even list them all, but they include mole, tamales, horchata,pan de muerto, chiles en nogada, salsa, quesadillas, huevos rancheros, tequila pork loin, snapper with cilantro, mole de olla, cotton candy, apple pie, ribs, and mango ice cream to name a handful.
Here is Heather's version of Povorones de Naranja.

Welcome to Ali from Fix Me a Little Lunch for being the newest member to Cook the Books.   Ali was excited for this Frida adventure and reminisced about her first encounter with Kahlo's works on a solo road trip when she was twenty-something.   
I was transported by Kahlo’s paintings – in life, they are even more stunning than in photos.  After spending hours wandering through the exhibit, I went across the street and stumbled into a Vietnamese restaurant and ate Pho for the first time.  Different cultures, different foods, different times, but for me, soup and Kahlo are inexorably linked in my memory because of that trip.
I could relate to Ali's experience.   I can also relate to the delicious Crockpot Posole that Ali whipped up for this event.

Cathy of Delaware Girl Eats was intrigued by the focus of exotic dishes mentioned and the life of Kahlo.
It was enticing to follow the main character through several reincarnations, any number of amorous encounters and a text laced with mystic sentiments. For me the most memorable phrase in the book was “have the courage to live because anyone can die." This seemed to me to emphasize that death is incidental to life itself and shouldn’t be feared.
That quote spoke to me as well, Cathy.  Although she points out there were many, many mole dishes mentioned in the novel, she decided it was just too hot to create a mole dish.  Instead she created these delectable Mexican Chocolate Brownies.

Simona of briciole wasn't a hug fan of the book either.  She was familiar with both Kahlo and Rivera but states:
The novel didn't add to my appreciation of Kahlo or Rivera and it goes into some areas of their life where I was not eager to go. In reading what is described as "a fictional account" of Kahlo's life, it was tricky to suspend my disbelief. I found that I prefer to be either in fiction land or in biography land, not some place in between. Once again, I am thankful to be a member of our special reading club, because I would not have chosen this book on my own, and reading it stimulated some interesting thoughts and pushed me to be clear with myself about the reasons why it didn't resonate with me. 
Simona also wrote, "While I was reading the book, I thought about how in the kitchen I use ingredients a bit like a painter chooses his/her colors."  This realization inspired her to create Eggs Nested in Leafy Green Vegetables.  

Deb from Kahakai Kitchen found the book "at times sad, at times humorous, at times a bit magical."   Although she found she didn't love the writing (which as she and others point out might have been a translation issue), she did think it was a good companion piece to the film, Frida.   It was the food descriptions and recipes that kept her interest.

The recipes and food descriptions were my favorite part of the book and I will probably go back and make some of the recipes like the pico de gallo (if I ever find nopales), the pumpkin tamales, and the Mango Tepozteco Ice Cream which intrigued me with the addition of the sour cream and egg white.
Deb whipped up an entire meal.  Here are her Shrimp Tacos with an accompanying salad beans, radish and cheese.   She served this along side a Jamaica (Red Hibiscus) Vanilla-Lime Agua Fresca.  A perfect Frida Feista, Deb.

As mentioned before, along with The Secret Book for CTB I also hosted the film Frida for Food 'n FlixThe Food 'n Flix round up for all the Frida-inspired fare can be found here at Eliot's Eats.  

Please join CTB for the October/November round hosted by Simona of briciole.  Her pick is Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots by Jessica Soffer.   Simona introduces this novel in the following way:  
Lorca, the troubled teenage girl who is one of the novel’s protagonists, sets out to find a recipe for Masgouf, an Iraqi dish that her mother, a chef, once said was the most delicious thing she had ever tasted. Lorca’s quest leads her to Victoria, a widowed Iraqi-Jewish immigrant who can teach her how to make the dish. The two bond over the simple act of cooking together.
 I, along with Simona, want to find out what Masgouf is, what Lorca and Victoria cook together and how it all unfolds?   
And, isn't the cover beautiful?!

Please plan on reading, cooking, and posting!  The deadline for posting is November 30, 2016.


Simona Carini said...

How many beautiful dishes! Thank you again Debra for hosting and for the lovely roundup.

Debra Eliotseats said...

Thanks, Simona. It seemed the book was a challenge for some of us! :) I can't wait to read Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots for October/November.

Heather S-G said...

I had fun doing a Food 'n Flix and Cook the Books mash-up again, and I love seeing all of the delicious Frida-inspired food. Thanks so much for bringing it all together in two tasty roundups, Debra. :)

Amy said...

Great Round up! Thanks for hosting!