Picked this up at the local library as a recommendation from one of the librarians at my local branch.
Colon was let go from her job at a prestigious...morePicked this up at the local library as a recommendation from one of the librarians at my local branch.
Colon was let go from her job at a prestigious women's magazine at the start of the recent recession and found herself turning to her family's recipe collection for inspiration. Not only does she discover some "sturdy food" meals, but learns how these ladies dealt with their own difficult times, financial as well as personal.
Colon shares the stories of her female ancestors, interspersed with recipes from the collection, as well as the author's own adaptations of these dishes. While Colon comes off as a bit privileged at times, as she goes through her family history, she seems to learn a bit of humility and resilience.
I found out about this book thanks to a NPR Fresh Air interview with the author back in June & checked the memoir out from the library.
An orphan...moreI found out about this book thanks to a NPR Fresh Air interview with the author back in June & checked the memoir out from the library.
An orphan from Ethopia, adopted by a Swedish couple, Marcus tells his story of becoming a talented chef whose travels have taken him around the world as well as back to his homeland.
Samuelsson has a very engaging style; and speaks frankly of the mistakes he's made as well as his triumphs. His love of food and of creation shines through - he references "chasing flavors" many times and provides examples of how he's done just that. He credits his adoptive family with helping build his character and giving him the tools to succeed. He has also shared his success with his birth family; convincing his father to send his half-sisters to school so that they may have a better life.
Despite not being a foodie; I find myself having read several chef memoirs over the years and have enjoyed the stories overall. I'd love to be in on a conversation between Samuelsson and Jeff Henderson ; to hear them compare and contrast their experiences as African/African-American men in the world of cooking. And you know, Tony Bourdain might be more fun to party with; but I think I'd much rather sit down to a quiet dinner hosted by Marcus Samuelsson.(less)
Read the Kindle version this memoir courtesy of the local library... while I enjoyed it more than some of my GoodReads friends, I'm just as happy I di...moreRead the Kindle version this memoir courtesy of the local library... while I enjoyed it more than some of my GoodReads friends, I'm just as happy I didn't spend money on it.
I didn't particularly like Gabrielle as portrayed here; she seems very self-involved, inconsiderate and less than appreciative of her situation. That said, she pushes herself harder than anyone else in her life and has worked hard for what she has.
Surprisingly truthful at times; her adventures and travails made for engaging reading. While I'm in no way a foodie, she wrote about her dining and cooking experiences in a compelling way that made me appreciate what they did for her, even though I can't imagine spending that kind of time and/or money on the dishes she discussed.
I particularly enjoyed the segment where she discussed going to a conference on Women in the food industry and the contradictory feelings she experienced; your gender (and sexuality) shouldn't matter in the work environment, but your experiences do.
Good blend of science and history; I knew some of the history of the "Banana Republics" due to my Spanish/Lat...more- Ginnie & Ellenjsmellen gave 3 stars
Good blend of science and history; I knew some of the history of the "Banana Republics" due to my Spanish/Latin American studies - still awfully depressing to see how much the US interfered with these nations over the past century. (less)
Lee starts the book with an anecdote: multiple lottery winners across the United States are traced back to a set of "lucky numbers" found in fortune c...moreLee starts the book with an anecdote: multiple lottery winners across the United States are traced back to a set of "lucky numbers" found in fortune cookies. These iconic treats bookend the story: originally a Japanese pastry of sorts, they became popular during/after WWII, with the Chinese taking over manufacturing of the items during the Japanese internment.
She continues with an exploration of the tangled history of chop suey and General Tso's chicken, neither of which are authentic Chinese dishes. This leads to a review of Chinese immigration, not only to the United States, but across all seven continents; in her search for the "greatest Chinese restaurant in the world", she discovers how Chinese cuisine is altered for each culture, and vice versa.
Lee's writing is quite engaging; she keeps a light tone during most of her experiences, but is able to treat the more serious issues of culture clashes and illegal immigration with appropriate gravity.
Definitely worth the read and I may be reviewing her bibliography for further reading on some of the topics she covered. (less)
Previously read Sept 2003 - Checked this out from the library on the recommendation of Carla Irene
The title is pretty self-explanatory: the book discu...morePreviously read Sept 2003 - Checked this out from the library on the recommendation of Carla Irene
The title is pretty self-explanatory: the book discusses how salt was accessed, processed, sold and used from ancient times through today. I was pleased to see non-European cultures were included - especially since China and India have had such a rich history entwined with this essential mineral. However, I would have liked to see more info about North & South America and sub-Saharan Africa, and I don't remember anything about Australia at all.
The book itself is very readable - covering both some more technical aspects of collecting and refining salt, as well as giving recipes and discussing the economic aspects. While I'm sure most people know that the word "salary" comes from the Latin for salt, I didn't realize that in pre-industrial times, if a nation started buying huge amounts of salt, that was a possible indication that they were going to war, as all the rations for the soldiers would need to be preserved. I learned quite a bit about Italian and Chinese history & culture that I didn't know before - and I never realized that salt was one of the main reasons for India's revolt against England.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in an overview of history (with a twist) and plan to read more books by Mr. Kurlansky. (less)
Allen uses the seven deadly sins as the structure for a discussion on foods both irresistible and forbidden, beginning with a fanciful menu for each section. Not surprisingly, the Lust chapter discusses aphrodisiacs, but it also includes a compelling case for why the apple was the Forbidden Fruit of the Bible - it boils down to Roman vs Celtic Christianity. The tomato's carnal history vs that of its humble, bland sibling the potato is also presented.
Gluttony is a natural topic when talking about food; although some of the more outré meals made me a bit queasy. Pride includes a section on corn & how it was treated as a second-class foodstuff for centuries; even my grandmother refused to eat corn on the cob, since "that's what they feed pigs". Once it was off the cob, she had no problem with it. :shrug:. Sloth includes a section on the potato; its easy cultivation in the soil of Ireland helped contribute to the stereotype of lazy Irishmen.
The section on Greed discusses cannibalism and formula vs breastmilk; while Blasphemy covers the dietary restrictions of Jews, Hindus and Muslims - and how misinterpretations of those restrictions led to hate & prejudice in medieval Europe. Capsaicin and members of the allum family are discussed in Anger; and Allen wraps up with what he calls the Eighth Sin - when everything is allowed and nothing has flavor.
An entertaining look at the history of many different foodstuffs, with just enough detail to make you feel as if you were learning something new. Allen worked hard at covering non-European cultures, including information from Central/South America, the Middle East and India; more sources and stories from the Far East might have been useful as well.
He has an extensive bibliography and notes section; but an index would be helpful. For example, I know chocolate was discussed at least once, but can't remember if it was in Lust, Pride or Gluttony. The chapter titles, while whimsical, weren't of much help.
Recommended to food lovers with an interest in odd corners of history. (less)
Checked out from the library & munched my way through it in a weekend.
If you're looking for a history of candymaking, this isn't the book for you...moreChecked out from the library & munched my way through it in a weekend.
If you're looking for a history of candymaking, this isn't the book for you. It's equally a memoir, and a paean to an obsession. Even though I'm not a candy bar aficionado (preferring my chocolate pure & dark), I found this exploration of the author's fascination with candy, complete with visits to regional candy makers very entertaining.
Almond (who comments on the irony of his last name) writes wryly of using candy as a substitute for the affection he didn't always get from his family. He claims to have eaten a piece of candy every day of his life as far back as he can remember, also confessing to an extensive stash of various sweetmeats; stocking up on limited edition treats such as the transcendent Kit Kat Darks (a wise choice, IMHO).
His travels take him to meet Ray Broekel, perhaps the foremost expert on the history of American candy, writing two books (neither of which sold very well, as they're apparently a bit dull). He visits candy manufacturers in Nashville, Sioux City, Boise and the East Coast, finding fellow candy freaks in the guise of taste engineers and product developers.
His factory tours take on almost an air of pornography, as he describes in great detail the enrobers, starch moguls and other equipment of the trade, extruding and engulfing sweet treasures. Almond never turns down a sample, even if it contains cocoanut - his candy nemesis. He's not too thrilled with marshmallow, either; but the Valomilks of Kansas change his mind.
The writing is lively, self-deprecating, and at times, laugh-out-loud funny. He's occasionally in questionable taste -- the ruler that used to appear on Marathon bars... well... he used it to measure other things.. . If you like David Sedaris and his ilk, I think you'll enjoy Almond's writing as well.
I'd recommended this book to those who make their Halloween candy last til Christmas and have a strict plan for eating M&M's, regardless of what it may be.
I'd read Kitchen Confidential a year or so ago & remembered the cocky brashness of Bourdain; but also recalled his passion for his work. That pass...moreI'd read Kitchen Confidential a year or so ago & remembered the cocky brashness of Bourdain; but also recalled his passion for his work. That passion carries over to enjoying the food that others prepare as well - nearly everything he tries is described in the most glowing of terms. The few items he didn't care for were portrayed in evocative language as well.
In search of the "perfect meal" - a dish tied inexorably to its surroundings - Bourdain visits exotic locales in Vietnam and Cambodia, participates in elaborate Japanese rituals and attempts to drink his Russian comrades under the table. He joins in a pig slaughter in Portugal, has haggis in Scotland and visits perhaps the only chef who intimidates him.
The term "gonzo gastronome" seems to fit Bourdain's description of himself during this outlandish journey. The book was written in conjunction with a Food Network series, which I'd be curious to see, as he slags the crew on occasion throughout the book, despite the FN paying for his trip.
Recommended to fans of exotic travel & incredible food - regardless of your own expertise in either arena.(less)
The authors visited 30 families in 24 countries and asked them about their dietary habits, as well as taking a photo of them with a week's worth of fo...moreThe authors visited 30 families in 24 countries and asked them about their dietary habits, as well as taking a photo of them with a week's worth of food. The countries visited ranged from the US & Australia to Chad and Mongolia. Essays about food-related social issues from various authors (including Jared Diamond & Eric Schlosser, IIRC) are sprinkled throughout, and a chart comparing the countries' financial & food-related statistics is included at the back. A fascinating (& depressing) look at world-wide consumption. (less)
Almost 4 books in one - the polemic on King Corn and how this grain has become an insidious element of entirely too much of a typical American's diet....moreAlmost 4 books in one - the polemic on King Corn and how this grain has become an insidious element of entirely too much of a typical American's diet. This topic segued into a look at modern beef-raising, which was also a bit unsettling (but expected). I much preferred the sections on the self-sustaining farm and the opinionated gentleman running it, and the foraging meal - where the author had to hunt and gather to create a complete meal. Very thought-provoking and worth another read down the line, I think. (less)
I heard an interview with Jeff Henderson a few weeks ago about this autobiography & picked it up from the local library.
Jeff grew up in the Los A...moreI heard an interview with Jeff Henderson a few weeks ago about this autobiography & picked it up from the local library.
Jeff grew up in the Los Angeles area, becoming a successful drug dealer at a very young age (late teens/early 20's) before getting busted. While in prison, he discovered an interest in cooking. He worked in the prison kitchens, picking the brains of anyone he could; then, upon his release, he worked his way from dishwasher to head chef at four-star hotels. I'm not generally one for "inspirational reading" - but I found this book worthwhile - honest & direct without being cloying. (less)
The Nasty Bits is collection of essays written over the past several years - mostly dealing with food & traveling, but Bourdain also takes a swipe...moreThe Nasty Bits is collection of essays written over the past several years - mostly dealing with food & traveling, but Bourdain also takes a swipe at "celebrity chefs", reminisces about the Good Old Bad New York and writes a rather charming Christmas story. The essays are gathered into 5 sections - Salty, Sweet, Sour, Bitter and Umami - with the short story at the end.
Bourdain pulls no punches & is still rather rough around the edges, tho part of me wonders how much of it is his "image". When he discussed kitchen techniques, I found myself making comparisons with the recent Pixar movie Ratatouillle.
Bourdain's writing is vivid and entertaining - even as a non-foodie, I found myself salivating over his descriptions of meals eaten around the world, tho I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to try them by myself. (less)
Not quite as engaging as Kurlansky and occasionally both a bit scattershot & repetitive; but still an interesting look at the history of food pre...moreNot quite as engaging as Kurlansky and occasionally both a bit scattershot & repetitive; but still an interesting look at the history of food preservation around the world, as well how history was influenced by the slowly improving technologies. (less)