Sunday, February 18, 2018

Announcing our next four book selections

While we are all still traveling through time with chocolate, we have also traveled into the next several months to plan the upcoming editions of our book club. Here are the next four book selections:

Deb (Kahakai Kitchen) opens the series with the memoir Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China by Fuchsia Dunlop

I had heard so many great things about Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China and its author Fuchsia Dunlop that when it was a Kindle Deal several months ago, I snapped it up. To prompt myself to read it and not let it languish on my TBR pile, I chose it as our April/May 2018 Cook the Books selection. 

Dunlop is a British cook and food writer who specializes in Chinese cuisine—in fact she was the first Westerner to train as a chef at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine and she has spent much time exploring China and its food. She has four award-winning cookbooks focused on Chinese cooking; Land of Plenty (originally published as Sichuan Cookery in the U.K.), Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook, Every Grain of Rice, and Land of Fish and Rice. 

Published in 2008, Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper chronicles her experiences cooking and eating in China. From the book blurb:
An extraordinary memoir of an Englishwoman’s attempt to immerse herself in Chinese food and Chinese culinary culture. In the course of her decade-long journey, Fuchsia undergoes an apprenticeship at a Sichuanese cooking school, where she is the only foreign student in a class of nearly fifty young Chinese men; attempts, hilariously, to persuade Chinese people that ‘Western food’ is neither ‘simple’ nor ‘bland’; and samples a multitude of exotic ingredients, including sea cucumber, civet cat, scorpion, rabbit-heads and the ovarian fat of the snow frog.
It’s been quite a while since Cook the Books has traveled to China and I am looking forward to seeing the dishes that this book inspires!

Deadline for this selection is Thursday, May 31, 2018

For the June/July edition, Claudia (Honey from Rock) chose Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl 

Ruth Reichl, recipient of four James Beard awards as well as numerous other prizes, has written five memoirs and a novel, done TV shows and edited several cookbooks. Out of those, I frequently refer to my Gourmet Today.  Garlic and Sapphires stands out as my favorite of her memoirs. 

From her Publishers: 
As the New York Times's restaurant critic for most of the 1990s, Reichl had what some might consider the best job in town; among her missions were evaluating New York City's steakhouses, deciding whether Le Cirque deserved four stars and tracking down the best place for authentic Chinese cuisine in Queens. Thankfully, the rest of us can live that life vicariously through this vivacious, fascinating memoir. 
I love the way she assumed various disguises to find out how all sorts of customers were really treated — not attracting special service for a well-known critic — and she pulls no punches. She can be truly hilarious, and is such a descriptive and evocative food writer.

Deadline for contributing your post is Tuesday, July 31, 2018

For the August/September edition, Debra (Eliot's Eats) has chosen Sourdough by Robin Sloan  

I'm excited to announce the August/September selection: Sourdough by Robin Sloan (September 2017). A recent NPR report by Jason Sheehan describes the novel in this way: 
Think of it like Candide without the pirates. And set in San Francisco. Wait, that's not quite right. It's like Fight Club meets The Great British Bake Off. It's like Fight Club if no one got punched. It's like Fight Club if Fight Club was written by someone concerned with a different, quieter kind of revolution, and if Fight Club was all about bread.      
With a review and description like this, I cannot wait to read it! I was obviously taken with the title but was absolutely and totally intrigued when I read the publisher's blurb. The main character, Lois, is a software engineer working at a robotics company. Two of her few friends run a diner that Lois orders-out from every day. They unexpectedly close up shop but ask Lois to take care of their sourdough starter. 

She's not a baker but this sourdough gift starts her on a new journey and brings her into contact with the area farmers market vendors. Intrigued? Remember, Lois is a software designer and there is a sci-fi/technology twist to the plot. Sourdough is Sloan's second novel, a followup to the well-received Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (October 2012). He currently is a partner in Fat Gold, a California Olive Oil Company. Hope you enjoy this wild ride of a read. I am anticipating lots of yeasty recipes. I personally, am ordering some starter now. 

The deadline for Sourdough is Sunday, September 30, 2018.

To round up the list of selections Simona (briciole) picked The Cooking Gene, A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael Twitty

I was glad to see this book mentioned on our suggestion page, as it was already on my TBR list. I have had to pleasure to meet Michael and hear him speak, so I am thrilled to read his book and share the experience with others.

From the publishers' page:
A renowned culinary historian offers a fresh perspective on our most divisive cultural issue, race, in this illuminating memoir of Southern cuisine and food culture that traces his ancestry—both black and white—through food, from Africa to America and slavery to freedom... 
As he takes us through his ancestral culinary history, Twitty suggests that healing may come from embracing the discomfort of the Southern past. Along the way, he reveals a truth that is more than skin deep—the power that food has to bring the kin of the enslaved and their former slaveholders to the table, where they can discover the real America together.
Deadline for contributing your post: Friday, November 30, 2018.

Remember that membership is open to anyone and we hope you will join us by reading these selections and creating inspired recipes.  For more information about participating in our virtual book club, click here.  

As always, specific announcement posts can be found at Cook the Books as the year marches on.

To recap:

April/May: Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper by Fuchsia Dunlop (hosted by Deb at Kahakai Kitchen)

June/July: Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl, (hosted by Claudia at Honey from Rock)

August/September: Sourdough by Robin Sloan (hosted by Debra at Eliot's Eats)

October/November: The Cooking Gene by Michael Twitty (hosted by Simona at briciole)

Happy reading and cooking!


Debra Eliotseats said...

Thanks, Simona, for posting this up. Ordering Shark Fin now, Deb. Claudia, looking forward to rereading Garlic and Sapphires. Glad we are rounding out with another great cooking memoir, Simona. Looks like a great set of books!

Claudia said...

I'm looking forward to rereading it too Debra, and to a first reading the other fabulous selections! Thanks Simona.

Lynda Hardy said...

I'm excited about all of these! It'll be a great year!

Mae Travels said...

I've read the first three and loved them! The Twitty book is on my list to read soon. Have fun with these great books!

mae at