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

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!