Kingsley Amis was notorious for liking a good drink. He was a Scotch man, but found ways to appreciate all drink. Except maybe wine. He was self-admit...moreKingsley Amis was notorious for liking a good drink. He was a Scotch man, but found ways to appreciate all drink. Except maybe wine. He was self-admittedly clueless about wine. Shame. This book is a collection of his boozy writings, and even a pub-style trivia quiz section.
Anyway, on Saturday night we decided to try one of his more delicious sounding drink recipes/descriptions. (His recipes were really more about the commentary on its effects or origins or place in society.) Here's the makings for an Old Fashioned:
And the result:
It was yummy and balanced - a definite add to our regular rotation. I have to admit though that we didn't do the full 3oz of Bourbon. We cut it back to 2. In general Amis was keen on minimizing the mix-ins, and maximizing the alcohol content high. A little too high for my taste, even though we had some fabulous Labrot & Graham Woodford Reserve thanks to our generous friends.
I had to deduct a star for the old-fashioned sexist nature of the book. Amis and his musings were a product of his time. Luckily it didn't diminish too much from the hilarious quotable gems. Such as:
"And most experts will tell you that the bloom begins to fade from a martini as soon as it is first mixed, which may be pure subjectivism, but, in any drinking context, subjectivism is very important."
"You will find it a splendid pick-me-up, and throw-me-down, and jump-on-me. Strongly dis-recommended for mornings after."
Finally I give you Amis's rebuttal on the widely held belief that mixing alcohols gives you a wicked hangover the next day: "An evening when you drink a great deal will also be one when you mix them." QED(less)
My rockin' niece worked hard on this book. It looks really awesome! I can't wait to see it in person. I think this would be the perfect accompaniment...moreMy rockin' niece worked hard on this book. It looks really awesome! I can't wait to see it in person. I think this would be the perfect accompaniment to a brand new, loaded wine rack, and maybe a grape varietal poster?(less)
I first heard of PIH, like many others, after the earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010. Watching the horrific images -- the rubble, the bodies, the...moreI first heard of PIH, like many others, after the earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010. Watching the horrific images -- the rubble, the bodies, the survivors, the inadequate everything -- it was all so overwhelming that I couldn't help but say "Cripes, of course I'll give what I can." To add devastation of this level on a poor country already struggling with disease and inequity is just unfathomable. Searching for an organization that already had deep ties in Haiti, with an excellent record, that focuses not only on medical treatment but also on a whole community, poverty alleviating approach, one comes quite naturally to Partners in Health.
Kidder wrote this personal-account biography after years of traveling and observing PIH's remarkable founder, Dr. Paul Farmer, but well before the earthquake. Farmer comes across as a wholly driven yet enigmatic character; a straight talker who always finds the kindest words for his patients. He'll hike 7 hours to do two house visits for his patients, and fly to Siberia for a 2 hour meeting. Yes, Farmer does come across as a superhero. But rightfully so. What PIH has done for drug-resistant TB treatments, the poorest AIDS patients, and for Haiti is nothing short of legendary.
And yet Kidder is willing lay out all of Farmer's faults for the reader. He also describes Farmer's core philosophies without reservation, even when they are surprising or hard to comprehend. To achieve this - and to capture Farmer's quirkiness - Kidder relies heavily on quoting Farmer directly. The story centers around Kidder's personal relationship with Farmer during the time they spend together. The reader sees Kidder struggle with some of Farmer's decisions and judgments of other people. This perhaps is the only honest way to help the reader see the human foibles in Paul Farmer, because a simple biography would end up describing Paul Farmer as a Saint.
Here's the upshot: no life is worth more than another life; all deserve access to the best healthcare. Mountains Beyond Mountains is a fascinating look into one man trying to help the world's poor.(less)
I have no idea how I came upon Frank Bruni's blog when he was the food critic of the New York Times. I started following his behind-the-scenes comment...moreI have no idea how I came upon Frank Bruni's blog when he was the food critic of the New York Times. I started following his behind-the-scenes commentary while I was living overseas, and his quick wit and descriptions of restaurant visits made me long for the food and customer service of home. I loved that he was as much a fan of good greasy take-away grub as he was with Keller's work at Per Se. Never mind that I was not from New York - his writing was too captivating to ignore.
I was highly intrigued when I heard earlier this year that not only was he leaving his position and "outing" himself (i.e. revealing his true identity) by publishing a memoir, but that he had struggled with overeating his whole life. It shares many similarities to David Kessler's memoir The End of Overeating Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite which also came out this year. Both are eloquently able to elucidate those unspoken urges to overeat. Kessler has taken the scientific and commercial tack with his life story thrown in, while Bruni's focuses wholly on his life story, revealing all that was happening within. Both are very worthy reads, and I would suspect Kessler and Bruni would be two peas in a pod discussing their struggles.
Luckily Frank Bruni has both had an unusual life and describes it with humor, drawing us into his extended Italian-American family and circle of friends. As a journalist, he has lead an unusual path from working as a movie critic, to being a staff reporter following the Bush 2000 Presidential campaign, to working as a foreign correspondent in Rome, and eventually landing him as food critic at the NYT.
If you can't relate to having a complicated relationship with food, Bruni's memoir might come across as slightly whiny, or a little too self-reflective; i.e. you won't relate. To others us who through our life have had to have a serious "relationship discussions" with food, he really lays himself bare, admitting to various levels of eating disorders and self esteem issues. It's honest. It's funny, and a well-written account of his life.
The only flaw is that the book is heavily marketed as "food critic who was overweight", yet only about 25% of the book deals with his years as a food critic, eating lavish dinners 7 nights a week. After following his blog, I know there's much more to this story - more behind the scenes stories, surprises, learning about the industry. Perhaps Bruni is trying to be kind to restauranteurs still in business or he's saving the majority of those moments for some future book.
At any rate, reading Bruni's memoir is like getting to sit next to that unusual stranger at a dinner party who has a magical way of telling his life story. If only!(less)