Tuesday, December 6, 2022

December/January Selection: Miss Cecily's Recipes for Exceptional Ladies

Hello Friends, 

I am hoping December finds you all well, and ready for another round of Cook the Books. I went through my TBR, both e-books and print, and felt myself called to Miss Cecily's Recipes for Exceptional Ladies by Vicky Zimmerman (June 9, 2020) for our December/January selection

From the Publisher: 

An unlikely friendship between two stubborn, lonely souls anchors this big-hearted book and dares us all to ask for more. 

When her life falls apart on the eve of her 40th birthday, Kate Parker finds herself volunteering at the Lauderdale House for Exceptional Ladies. There she meets 97-year-old Cecily Finn. Cecily's tongue is as sharp as her mind, but she's fed up with pretty much everything. 

Having no patience for Kate's choices in life or love, Cecily prescribes her a self-help book...of sorts. Thought for Food: an unintentionally funny 1950s cookbook high on enthusiasm, featuring menus for anything life can throw at the "easily dismayed," such as: 

  • Breakfast with a Hangover 

  • Tea for a Crotchety Aunt 

  • Dinner for a Charming Stranger

As she and Cecily break out of their ruts, Kate will learn far more than recipes. 

I like my books light and a bit heartwarming this time of year, and this one seemed like a good pick plus, I have owned the Kindle copy for a couple of years now, so it's high time to read it! And finally, who can resist a blurb like: 

Since our virtual foodie book club is full of exceptional ladies, I look forward to seeing what marvelous dishes this novel inspires us to make!


Kahakai Kitchen

Deadline for contributing your post: Tuesday, January 31, 2023.

Friday, December 2, 2022

Cooking with Fernet Branca: The Roundup

It's time for the roundup of Cook the Books' Club October-November edition for which we read Cooking with Fernet Branca by James Hamilton-Paterson. 
As I've done in the past, I will present our club members' contributions as a menu. I will start with cocktails, seeing as the title 'character' of the novel is a liqueur. For each, I will give you the official information (author, blog name and post title) and a quote from it — a taste: follow the link and read the author's take of the book and how the reading inspired the cooking. 

Cook the Books Club's Cooking with Fernet Branca-Inspired Menu 

Hanky Panky Cocktail  
Whisper in the Dark 

Parfait with Blackberry Jam  

Chicken Liver Paté   

Turkey Pasta e Fagioli and Pesto Bread

Radicchio and lettuce leaf salad with carrot micro greens and persimmon 

Apple Crumble 

Fernet-Branca Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Make yourself comfortable and enjoy the menu.

"I thought Fernet Branca was going to be a person!!!!  Imagine my surprise when I learned that Fernet Branca wasn't a chef but an Italian Liqueur.  I private messaged my friend Cam right away.  I was laughing so hard at myself that I could barely type... I was, however, inspired to explore Fernet Branca, learning that it is a bitter liqueur used in Italy as a digestif. I also found several recipes for cocktails using Fernet Branca. I do like bitter and often enjoy Compari so I decided to create a cocktail...  delicious!!  ."

"Anytime a book claims to be 'hilarious', I roll my eyes and prepare for the worst. Imagine my surprise when this one actually was funny. I even chuckled...out loud!... Gerald gag-inducing recipes are made hilarious by his misplaced confidence... Finally I found the Whisper in the Dark and this one was a winner... The bitterness of the espresso is just what the drink needed to tame down the bitterness of the Fernet-Branca, while mint brought out the surprising mintiness of the spirit. Finally, the sweetness from the Irish Cream and simple syrup were the perfect finishing touch."

"I found nothing to be culinarily inspired by except kasha, a rustic fiber-rich dish Marta feeds to Gerald after one of his near death experiences... Marta also receives some blackberry kompot from her infamous family in a care package. To celebrate my finishing of  this novel in the early morning, I decided to have some yogurt with oatmeal (my homage to kasha) topped with blackberry jam. Of course, Gerald would have added some anchovies to it... If I’d had more time, I would have made my own buckwheat granola or real kasha.  But, I had zero time... This recipe is simple but delicious."

Claudia of Honey from Rock prepared Chicken Liver Paté

"I had many actual laugh out loud moments going through this humorous and satirical novel, usually due to the unexpected, totally deadpan delivery... I forget now where I saw a reference (in this book?) to Fernet Branca and chicken livers, but pursuing that thread, found a  recipe from The Washington Post for one. That sent me on a search for Chicken Liver Paté, which seemed more doable and could easily incorporate said Branca in place of other spirits... I'm saving the bulk of it for a wedding party next month, but had a few delicious samples, of course."

"I made something that I was craving, Pasta e Fagioli and Bread with Pesto to dip into it... I think you have to be a fan of farce, especially British farce and humor to fully appreciate the book]... Overall, an amusing romp, it kept me reading it to see what would happen... I had some leftover Thanksgiving turkey legs and I wanted a soup with pasta and beans--so of course pasta e fagioli, and then I put the pesto from the eggplant dish onto some French bread with a little dusting of parmesan. Simple (and edible, thank you) comfort food."

"The story and the events are somewhat outlandish and hilarious. The protagonists, Gerald and Marta, whose voice and perspective we hear in turn, keep the reader's attention and so does their turf war... The inspiration for my salad came not from Gerald's creations, but from a connection I made between bitter liqueur and its digestive properties, and bitter greens, like beloved radicchio."

Cathy of Delaware Girl Eats baked an Apple Crumble

"The quirky narrative chronicling the adventures of a lost soul living in Tuscany highlights the Italian bitter made with 27 herbs and roots whose aggressive flavor mimics bitter black licorice. It's referenced throughout the book including dishes made with it... I took inspiration from the author's musings in the narrative, particularly one referencing tennis which caught my eye... OK, the narrator Gerald wasn't being particularly complimentary to apples, but indeed the connection to apples had been made and I decided on an Apple Crumble as the dish to prepare to honor this book."

"Satire! Fine. Still, this is one of the strangest books I've read in a long time... I had a bottle of Fernet-Branca on my shelf, so I sipped while I read this strange book... It's an amaro, a bitter alcohol that is served as a digestif. But it originated in the mid-nineteenth century by an herbalist in Milan who marketed it as a cure for worms, cholera, and even menstrual cramps... It's distilled, blended, and aged in oak barrels for a year... Since I definitely was not about to attempt any of Gerald's recipes, I thought I would use it as an extract in a cookie. It was subtle enough to be intriguing. "
"This is a book about food... it is just not food that many people would choose to eat. There are so many examples of disgusting sounding food, but a lot of it is based off of normal recipes... I ended up deciding on making something that I have never made before... I don't have a ready supply of pigeon's eggs to try and recreate an acorn mavlisi so instead, I have made florentines. I did recall that I have seen them made on Great British Bakeoff at least once, so this is Mary Berry's recipe."

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. If you find anything missing or in need of amendment anywhere in the roundup, please do let me know.

And now, I’ll pass the baton to Deb of Kahakai Kitchen who is hosting the December 2022-January 2-23 edition in which we are reading the novel Miss Cecily’s Recipes for Exceptional Ladies by Vicky Zimmerman.

Arrivederci a presto!

Simona, of briciole

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Announcement: Our Next Four Selections

Ready for another great set of reads? Here is the announcement of the next four selections of our book club. Drum roll, please!

Deb (Kahakai Kitchen) opens the series with Miss Cecily’s Recipes for Exceptional Ladies by Vicky Zimmerman (June 2020) for the December 2022 / January 2023 edition

Cook the Booksters, it’s time to help me whittle down my foodie TBR stack. According to Amazon, I purchased the e-book in October of 2020 so two years is actually not bad given the number of books I have yet to read! Besides that, I like something light for a big holiday month and the slowdown of the month after, and this book tagged as women’s fiction and friendship fiction seems like it will fit the bill. 

From the publisher: 

An unlikely friendship between two stubborn, lonely souls anchors this big-hearted book and dares us all to ask for more. 

When her life falls apart on the eve of her 40th birthday, Kate Parker finds herself volunteering at the Lauderdale House for Exceptional Ladies. There she meets 97-year-old Cecily Finn. Cecily's tongue is as sharp as her mind, but she's fed up with pretty much everything. 

Having no patience for Kate's choices in life or love, Cecily prescribes her a self-help book...of sorts. Thought for Food: an unintentionally funny 1950s cookbook high on enthusiasm, featuring menus for anything life can throw at the "easily dismayed," such as: 

  • Breakfast with a Hangover 

  • Tea for a Crotchety Aunt 

  • Dinner for a Charming Stranger

As she and Cecily break out of their ruts, Kate will learn far more than recipes. 

It has some good reviews, so I am hoping we find it enjoyable and it provides some fun inspiration in the kitchen!  

Deb, Kahakai Kitchen

Deadline for contributing your post is Tuesday, January 31, 2023

For the February / March edition, Claudia (Honey from Rock) chose The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan (February 2021)

Ryan's previous books have been delightful, and when I caught up with this one, I immediately realized it would be perfect for our Cook the Books group. During World War II the stressful times at home called up food inspiration and creativity from resourceful women and men too.

From the publishers

Two years into World War II, Britain is feeling her losses: The Nazis have won battles, the Blitz has destroyed cities, and U-boats have cut off the supply of food. In an effort to help housewives with food rationing, a BBC radio program called The Kitchen Front is holding a cooking contest—and the grand prize is a job as the program’s first-ever female co-host. For four very different women, winning the competition would present a crucial chance to change their lives.

For a young widow, it’s a chance to pay off her husband’s debts and keep a roof over her children’s heads. For a kitchen maid, it’s a chance to leave servitude and find freedom. For a lady of the manor, it’s a chance to escape her wealthy husband’s increasingly hostile behavior. And for a trained chef, it’s a chance to challenge the men at the top of her profession.

These four women are giving the competition their all—even if that sometimes means bending the rules. But with so much at stake, will the contest that aims to bring the community together only serve to break it apart?

This novel is an inspiring winner for sure. I just finished it and believe you all will enjoy it as well.

Claudia, Honey From Rock

Deadline for contributing your post is Friday, March 31, 2023

For the April / May 2023 edition, Debra (Eliot's Eats) has chosen Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (April 2022)

This past summer Lessons in Chemistry showed up on my radar. I think I was first made aware of it from a "Summer Reads" section from one of my culinary magazines. Nephew II and I were visiting an independent bookstore in July and I bought the book there. It's been sitting in my TBR stack since then. I have started it and I do love the ironic humor. The 60s fascinate me (the whole Mad Men vibe) so I'm looking forward to finishing it. Here's the abbreviated book blurb:
Elizabeth Zott is a trained chemist. In the early 60s, this is a man's world but she makes a place for herself and finds love (but maybe not acceptance). Fast forward a few years and Elizabeth is now a single mother and surprisingly enough, a television star with a beloved cooking show. Her approach is unique, “combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride." As "Supper at Six" (the title of her show)
The publisher's blurb promises "Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist." From the first few pages, this has promise.

Debra, Eliot's Eats

Deadline for contributing your post is Wednesday, May 31, 2023

To round up the list of selections, for the June / July 2023 edition Simona (briciole) chose Food Americana by David Page (May 2021)

As we co-hosts confabulated about the next four selections for our long-running club this book was mentioned and I chose based on the subtitle "The Remarkable People and Incredible Stories behind America’s Favorite Dishes." It reminded me of an earlier choice I made for the club, Twain's Feast by Andrew Beahrs, which looked at foods popular in Twain's time. I thought this would be a way to jump forward to the present and look at foods popular today.  
The remarkable history of American food. What is American cuisine, what national menu do we share, what dishes have we chosen, how did they become “American,” and how are they likely to evolve from here? David Page answers all these questions and more. 
I'm looking forward to reading stories of foods that are common around me but weren't a short while ago. 

Simona, briciole

Deadline for contributing your post: Monday, July 31, 2023.

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

As always, specific announcement posts can be found at Cook the Books at the beginning of each two-month period and the current selection is always shown on the right side of the homepage.

To recap:

December 2022 / January 2023: Miss Cecily's Recipes for Exceptional Ladies
 by Vicky Zimmerman (hosted by Deb at Kahakai Kitchen)

February / March 2023The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan (hosted by Claudia at Honey from Rock)

April / May 2023
 Lessons in Chemistry
 by Bonnie Garmus (hosted by Debra at Eliot's Eats)

June / July 2023
 Food Americana by David Page (hosted by Simona at briciole)

Happy reading and cooking!


Thursday, October 6, 2022

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Round Up

Thanks to everyone who participated in the August/September edition of Cook the Books.  It was fun to revisit a childhood classic, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.   

Since I'm late in posting the round-up, let's just jump right in.

Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm was first up with your Mock Turtle Soup.  Wendy says,  "It is the strangest soup I have ever made, containing cookies and hard boiled eggs, and it was surprisingly tasty."  That does sound strangely delicious.

Please note that Wendy has made real snapping turtle soup.  (I'm impressed.)  I also love that she mentioned her previous experience with Alice had been with the Disney version.

Camilla was up next with her colorful Mad as a Hatter Madeleines.  Her cookies look lovely but Camilla did not finish the book:  "Maybe my patience with nonsense is thinning as I get older. I found this a mind-boggling level of ridiculousness. The story wandered and the eponymous Alice was incredibly annoying."

Thanks for still persevering and participating, Cam!

Amy took a different spin and focused on Through the Looking Glass.  Amy further impressed by reading these books aloud to her teenagers.  
I decided to reread them aloud with the kids.  At 12 and & 14 they were not thrilled.  They’re both boys and all about the action, action, action.  Alice was not that.  But we were in the car on a 4000+ mile road trip (that was awesome - all in agreement) and they had no choice (my superpower is being able to read…aloud or silently…in the car).

 She focused on the Bread and Butterfly.

Toast and cheeseball!

Claudia from Honey from Rock (and one of the CTB co-hosts) was one of those among us that had never read the book in its entirety. (This seems to be a common theme.) Claudia's vintage edition included "A Christmas Greeting poem after the prologue was written 'from a fairy to a child.'"  That became her inspiration to make Fairy Cakes for the tea party.  

Tina had another vintage edition and reminded us all that "This book was a trip.  If you've ever listened to Jefferson Airplane's song White Rabbit it will sum up the feeling of traveling with Alice. 🐇"  While there were quite a few sweet treats in the tale, Tina went with trippy 'shrooms.  

Her One-Pot Mushroom Rice looks and sounds delicious.  

Marg from The Intrepid Reader reminisced about an event held for a milestone anniversary for the book. 
Reading this again reminded me of the White Night event that was held in Melbourne back in 2015. In honour of the 150th anniversary of the book being published, one of the themes for the event was Alice in Wonderland, with many of Melbourne's building being transformed into giant canvasses for projections. Here are a few of the Alice related pictures I took that night.

She posts some lovely pictures of this event.  Keeping with a tea party theme, she made a wonderful sounding Earl Grey Tea Chiffon Cake. 

Simona from briciole (another CTB co-host) was quickly inspired.   

knew immediately I'd make cookies for Alice: when I like a cookie, it's like it has EAT ME written on it. Also, in my opinion, the best foods with tea are cookies and scones, and Alice really goes with cookies.

She whipped up some delicious Brown Butter Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.   

 Co-host Deb from Kahakai Kitchen enjoyed revisiting Alice.  

The whimsy and humor of Carroll's writing made more of an impression on me as an adult, I am sure there was much of it that went completely over my had as a child. It's both weird and wonderful, making it a fun afternoon escape.

Let's return to the savory as Deb did another take on the mock turtle soup---(Very Mock Turtle) Creamy Wild Rice Soup with Green Olives.

I love the olives!

I loved Alice’s wonderment as she wandered through Wonderland.   When she grows as big as a house (or even bigger) her only thoughts are “There ought to be a book written about me, that there ought” (34).    Of course an adult would be screaming, “What is happening!!!!”   Alice just goes along for the ride.  In her world, there are no worries.  

As the host for this round of whimsical Alice and her trippy adventures, I'll end with a final savory dish:  Mystical Mushroom Pate.

Thanks to all that participated.  There were some friends we haven't seen in a while.   

We have one more book in this cycle for CTB.  Simona is hosting Cooking with Fernet BrancaStay tuned because we have started discussions about our next four books.  There's a lot of thought going into our next selections.   I think you all will enjoy!  

Saturday, October 1, 2022

October/November selection: Cooking with Fernet Branca

For the October / November 2022 edition I chose the novel Cooking with Fernet Branca by James Hamilton-Paterson (September 2005)

Right around the time when we started talking about our next selections at the beginning of this year, I read an article on The Guardian titled Top 10 cooks in fiction written by Annabel Abbs. Number 10 is Gerald Sampler, protagonist of the novel I chose:   
Gerald is a ghostwriter for C-list celebrities who likes inventing recipes. From his Tuscan hilltop he cooks with great gusto, using copious amounts of an Italian digestif called Fernet Branca. The plot is fast-paced but daft, the characters ludicrous but hilarious, and the recipes imaginative but ridiculous. Mussels in chocolate, garlic ice cream, a pie made from cat and kerosene, all doused in Fernet Branca, and described by one reviewer “lingering in the mind like poems”. This farce of a novel is a perfect reminder that no cook should take themselves too seriously.  
The New Yorker's review clarifies that two expats are the novel's main characters:
In this comic novel, two expats try to live on the same Tuscan mountaintop for the summer without killing each other: Gerald, an effete English snob and amateur cook who makes his living as a ghostwriter; and Marta, a bohemian composer from a crime family in a former Soviet republic. Hamilton-Paterson quickly seduces the reader with the perfectly captured acerbic tone and timing of Gerald and Marta’s badinage. 
I'm looking forward to reading how Gerald uses Fernet Branca in the kitchen, since when I was growing up in Italy it was strictly drunk as a digestivo (digestif).


Deadline for contributing your post: Wednesday, November 30, 2022.

Leave a comment below with a link to your post or email me at simosite AT mac DOT com

Remember that membership in our book club is open to anyone and we hope you will join us by reading these selections and creating inspired recipes. New participants are always welcome and so are returning ones. For more information about participating, click here.  

Friday, August 5, 2022

August/September Selection: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

When the CTB hosts were trying to choose the next four books last winter, I was at a loss.   As I read book reviews and peruse through bookstores, I see lots of books that I want to recommend for Cook the Books.  Then, when I'm on the spot and it's down to the wire, I can't think of anything.   

In October 2021, I was able to see original illustrations from the Dali edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland at our local art museum.   (In 1969, Dali illustrated this beloved children's book with colorful, playful surrealistic images.) 

I grabbed a copy of this edition at the exhibit and set about reading it.  (It dawned on me that I had never read the entire tale of Alice, the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, et al.)  I enjoyed my afternoon reading with a cup of tea at hand.

It's been a while since CTB has hosted a children's book or YA book.   (In 2012, we read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in 2013 it was The Hunger Games, and in 2017 we selected Farmer Boy.)  It was time for another one.

Pick up any edition you want of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.  

The surrealism one or the classic.

The deadline for contributing your post is Friday, September 30, 2022.

Leave a comment below with a link to your post and/or email me at eliotseats@gmail.com.

Anyone can participate in Cook the Books: just pick up a copy of the selection from your local bookstore or library, take inspiration from your reading, then cook and post the inspired dish.   If after you read you need more inspiration, check out this Alice in Wonderland Party.

We look forward to having you read and cook along.  New participants are always welcome. (Leave a comment here or check out our Guidelines page if you have any questions.

Thanks for going down this rabbit hole with me.

Eliot's Eats

Monday, August 1, 2022

A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisine - The Round-up

Well, here we are, the end of July and into August already!  Hopefully everyone is well and enjoying their summer, or winter for you Aussies.

Anthony Bourdain provided us with inspiration aplenty, and off the beaten track adventures for sure.  Some of those journeys I wouldn't have taken if paid for it.  Of course, he was :). Tony didn't seem to have any particular itinerary, and it was sometimes difficult to tell if he had just arrived in a country, or was referring in the book to an earlier visit.  I had all the while a sadness, learning of his life outcome, which was  unknown to me when first going into this.

I'll re-cap all the entries in the order they were received, not missing anyone I hope.  Be sure to let me know if you got left out.  I hope you will all enjoy your visits to these posts with their thoughts and meals.

First in was Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Cam and her truly adventurous dish from Vietnam, a country Tony seemed to enjoy the most.  She made Much Nhoi Thit or Vietnamese Stuffed Squid and capped it off with a cup of delicious Cà Phê Trứng - Vietnamese Egg Coffee for dessert. 

Cam said: "In the end, it is his passion for Vietnam that inspired me into the kitchen. He writes, "I’ve gone goofy on Vietnam, fallen hopelessly, helplessly in love with the place".....  I appreciated A Cook's Tour with every fiber of my being. I loved how he weaved food, culture, politics, and history into his narrative."

Next up was Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm who brought us a very tasty dish of Korean Fried Chicken.  She says "I made a couple of other adaptations to Bourdain's recipe in order to utilize ingredients that I had on hand and save myself a trip to the store." That refers to this recipe which utilizes a blanching and freezing technique.  

Wendy tells us: "I wavered between loving this book and hating it. Bourdain was very extreme in all things. Knowing, as we do now, of his mental health issues I made allowances for his bi-polar actions, words and writings. There was, of course, tons and tons of food inspiration...."

Then Amy of Amy's Cooking Adventures came in with a Mushroom, Greens and Fried Egg Sandwich.  She says: "My inspiration came from the mention of a dish early in the book when Mr. Bourdain was bar-hopping in Spain....  I wasn’t immediately taken by this book, but it did grow on me.  Mr. Bourdain traveled the world, often eating things I wouldn’t try in a million years, but also mentioning favorite foods from the states or England that were a little less scary.

It was interesting reading about the places traveled and the experiences behind the camera while filming A Cook's Tour (a show that I haven't watched, but now I may have to find some old episodes after reading the book!)"

Next in was Debra from Eliot's Eats, with Moroccan Potato Salad and Banh Mi sandwiches, both of which sound truly tempting.  Interested to try that Banh Mi!

She says, "I have had a crush on Anthony Bourdain since No Reservations. Then there was The Taste. Then, there was his judging stints on Top Chef.  I paid big bucks to not only hear him speak, but to stand in line to meet him (and get books signed) in 2010....  I thought he was a beautiful man and I used to joke with The Hubs that he was the only man I would ever leave him for.  I now have all of his books."  A true fan!  Her review a tribute, laced with sorrow for the outcome to his life, shared by most all of us. 

Tina from Squirrel Head Manor arrived next with a very yummy looking Tomato and Eggplant Tien
which recipe I immediately sent to my brother who is dealing with an abundance of eggplants.  

She remarked that "Anthony Bourdain is the bad boy of the kitchen chefs. He could be obnoxious, crude and yet entertaining. The chapter called where food comes from was a bit gory. Did I ever feel bad for that pig and apparently, so did Bourdain.... The chapter titled back to the beach where he and his brother returned to a family home was excellent. They rented motor scooters, they went to small bistros, they enjoyed stinky cheese and baguettes, Bordeaux reds and oysters."  A chapter which inspired her recipe choice. 

Claudia, of Honey from Rock, (moi) came in with a tasty meal of Smoked Salmon with Potato Gnocchi and Balsamic Glaze, inspired by Anthony's event near the end of the book at the famous, and outrageously expensive French Laundry Restaurant, with due thanks to Thomas Keller and his cookbook of the same name.

Bourdain's travel memoir certainly had its moments with humor, inspiring food, harrowing adventure, grossness and some repetition.  Overall, I enjoyed the journey, though his trip could possibly have used an itinerary and more planning.  Silly to complain of the cold and long for the sun when you decide to travel in winter.  Of course, when traveling, in spite of the best laid plans, we often encounter the unexpected and accidental.  He was looking for danger and certainly got it in Cambodia.

Simona of Bricole arrived just under the wire bringing her dish of Roasted Tromboncino Squash with Tomatoes.  A beautiful preparation of fresh vegetables.  As far as inspiration, Simona says: One theme Bourdain touches on several times, particularly when he describes his time in Vietnam, is the great flavor of dishes made with fresh ingredients and consumed immediately. Here we are in full agreement. My visits to farmers' markets are the most important inspiration in the kitchen. Summer produce is a rich source of ideas. A couple of weeks ago, I saw the first Tromboncino squash of the season and rushed to buy it.

"At times, Bourdain writes with deep sensitivity and shares insights in what he saw and experienced, like his observations of Vietnamese people or his homage to the many Mexican immigrants who work in restaurants in NYC. The book comes alive in those moments and made me wish it contained a lot more... What made this a hard book for me to read are his tirades (for example, against vegetarians and non-smokers)."

And, slipping even further under the wire came Deb, my fellow Hawaiian blogger, of Kahakai Kitchen.  She brought us some Thai inspired, flavorful and nourishing Tofu Tom Kha Soup

Deb said she was happy to revisit Bourdain's stellar food writing. Although he is rough around the edges, his love and respect for food and food traditions and his ability to make even the dubious to downright nasty sound anywhere from possibly edible to downright delicious are unmatched... I really think you can't go wrong with any of Bourdain's books or shows, as sad as they are to read and watch with him gone. The world truly lost a talent and I appreciated getting him back for a bit with this book. "

As it turns out, someone did get overlooked after all, many thanks to Simona who noticed Cathy's post on Facebook.  So, here is the PS edit with her contribution, a devilishly delicious looking Lobster Imperial. Visit her at Delaware Girl Eats for the full scoop.

She had this to say: "Having been a great follower of Bourdain's tv adventures and knowing how things ended up for him, I struggled reading this book. His voice came through so clearly in his words that they were painful at many parts to read. But he had a tremendous sense of place, whether it was the vibe, the people or the food. He made them all come alive.

Thanks you everyone for participating and making this event a real tribute to the memory of Anthony Bourdain.  

Next on our Cook the Books schedule will be for August/September and we will be reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, hosted by Debra of Eliot's Eats.  I hope you will join us.  
What we do here is read the current selection, get inspired by it to create a dish and then post about it.  Don't forget to comment here, or let the host know via email when your contribution is live!