A really interesting concept, well-executed. (Nobel Prize winner, so go figure.) That concept was also a permanent distraction, however. Especially wh...moreA really interesting concept, well-executed. (Nobel Prize winner, so go figure.) That concept was also a permanent distraction, however. Especially when the plot would deviate from the 'real' story. Although the deviations did at least keep it all from being totally predictable. For the second-to-last chapter, I know basically nothing about the theme, but even then I kept wondering which bits would be familiar if I did, and just generally felt guilty for knowing so little. Subplots involving supporting characters in that final section were clear just from current events, though. Really interesting look at another culture as well, since the issues of modern Egypt bled through. Brings up thoughts about how the story would go if written by someone in another -- any other -- country.(less)
This was from 1996; I wish he'd do another. (He did a limited-run signed thing in 2006 that is already sold out.) I'd love to buy this one, but it's o...moreThis was from 1996; I wish he'd do another. (He did a limited-run signed thing in 2006 that is already sold out.) I'd love to buy this one, but it's out of print and used copies are around $150. There's one two-page spread I would probably even slice out and frame. Fun and quirky but also very lovely. And definitely European.(less)
I picked this up because it sounded similar to Laura Shapiro's Something From the Oven. It was, but not quite as fun. Drier, although not stodgy and a...moreI picked this up because it sounded similar to Laura Shapiro's Something From the Oven. It was, but not quite as fun. Drier, although not stodgy and academic. The gender angle was important but not clearly addressed. Maybe I just haven't read enough on gender. There were few theories on motivations, etc. It's good to be objective, but I was expecting at least food for thought.
The best chapter was a detailed description of a WWII scrapbook from a woman in Louisiana who made a point of recording how the war affected people's meals (rationing, etc), pasting in the assorted articles full of advice from the govt and noting which recommendations people did and did not really follow.
Neuhaus mostly looks at cookbooks and related food media, while acknowledging that this doesn't precisely tell you what people actually cooked. (Scads of us bought The French Laundry Cookbook but have yet to actually try a recipe.)
There was a lot on the advice to sometimes cook your husband's favorite food in order to make him happy. Even if it's not your favorite. I don't really call that oppression. Especially in a context where it's assumed they're only eating one meal a day (and sometimes less) together. And you just have to crack up at the 1939 cookbook author who said "First consideration here is given to the 'men' rather than the 'u.'"
Also didn't understand the regular mention of cookbooks striving to persuade suddenly-servantless middle class women (ie, anyone after about WWI) that cooking can be fun. They were going to do it anyway. They didn't need to be sold on anything.(less)
This was one of my favorite books as a kid. I recently remembered it for some random reason and thought it was interesting that it had gone out of pri...moreThis was one of my favorite books as a kid. I recently remembered it for some random reason and thought it was interesting that it had gone out of print. Somehow that made me want to reread it. It's actually still quite good. It's a boarding school story and I always loved those. The history is woven in rather than going off in lecture tangents, which is a mixed blessing -- you don't get dragged out of the story but you don't learn all that much of substance. It was really interesting to notice how they'd just finished fighting Napoleon (several of the students had lost their fathers in battle and Waterloo occurs partway through the book) but everyone still spoke French instead of Russian and hired French tailors and teachers. It was more realistic than some modern stories in that you basically just get their day to day routines, with no adventures and with plenty of petty squabbling. I don't think you could sell that now. The abrupt, left field ending could have used more explanation. Time to order the sequel, which I also read repeatedly.(less)
Quite a bit more to it than pretty pictures, although there is a generous helping of those. I particularly liked how frequently they were able to show...moreQuite a bit more to it than pretty pictures, although there is a generous helping of those. I particularly liked how frequently they were able to show multiple versions of the same piece -- advertising sketches, b&w photos from when it was new, and full-color contemporary shots of the preserved item on a mannequin. I was disappointed to see the book skip completely from Lanvin's own designs to Elbaz's. There's an explanation that they prefer to forget about everything in between, but it would have still been interesting. Montana's collections, at the least. The first third or so had interesting descriptions of the general world, and rules, of the designers and their clients, as well as how certain trends took hold, but the rest was heavy on the technical details of certain kinds of embroidery, etc.(less)
Smoothly-written memoir combining foodie history and feminist history. It was particularly interesting to get a different generational context than ye...moreSmoothly-written memoir combining foodie history and feminist history. It was particularly interesting to get a different generational context than yet another Boomer. It's a complete (and bizarre) coincidence that I read this right after a book by her ex-husband, who probably didn't care very much for this. But as tell-alls go, it was refreshingly low-key. A really different era. Except for the cheap travel to Europe, I'm glad I missed it.(less)
Inspired to read this by a recent review in the Atlantic. Coincidentally, it turned out that I had just read an excerpt from his ex-wife's memoir (in...moreInspired to read this by a recent review in the Atlantic. Coincidentally, it turned out that I had just read an excerpt from his ex-wife's memoir (in a foodie anthology) and thus had insight on his own lifestyle relative to what he was describing and mocking. Overall, it was actually a fun book. And I really don't think it was intended to be at all serious. He made regular reference to The Preppie Handbook, which had recently made a killing (I feel so old for remembering it, too) and he seemed to mainly be trying to ride its economic coattails. He mocked his own lifestyle (without admitting it was his own) just as much as the rest. And it was interesting to see exactly what got mocked. It wasn't basic cruel snobbery. The very rich were treated much more cruelly than the very poor. Very much in the Paris Hilton model, the lot of them. He was remarkably sympathetic to the poor (proles), pointing out their understandable frustrations (like demeaning jobs) as an explanation of some of their tackier tendencies. And his biggest criticism of the middle class was that they are too hung up on what other people think of them, and that is really not an insult. Or, at the very least, it's very constructive criticism. (Although I'm still smarting at the repeated digs about New Yorker readers of course.) A lot of what he was describing was aspirational marketing, which consumers are more conscious of today than they were back then. Also, he made some perfectly valid (even today) observations about the major shortcomings of U.S. higher education. Overall, I don't feel compelled to try to move from middle class to 'X,' although that was his actual goal with the book. (Being that generation is enough. Confusing!) Really, they're their own kind of shallow. And grimy! Finally, his praise at the end for the bohemian lifestyle, with such attention paid to their free love practices when he hadn't addressed relationships at any point prior, makes a lot more sense when you know why his marriage crashed and burned.(less)
Fun and interesting, but definitely one to get from the library. Briefly and breezily covers 46 different processed foods, all of which are still in p...moreFun and interesting, but definitely one to get from the library. Briefly and breezily covers 46 different processed foods, all of which are still in production. Officially they're divided into five categories (chapters), but they're pretty meaningless because everything fits in all five. I ended up with lots of fun new trivia for parties, and it only took about 30 minutes to read the whole thing, but that is all the substance to it. Appropriately enough, for the subject matter!(less)
I've lived in the Midwest just long enough to recognize most of these entries but not to take them personally. Tempted to get my parents a copy before...moreI've lived in the Midwest just long enough to recognize most of these entries but not to take them personally. Tempted to get my parents a copy before their next visit. My community lacks a Bob Evans and a Casey's but we nail the rest. Of course a few things are just generic small or rural town quirks that I recognize equally from living elsewhere. I love how she uses dork as a verb -- 'And when he's not dorking around with his lawn...' She does mis-identify Tom Brokaw as being from North Dakota rather than South.(less)
I was predisposed to agree with the author and that didn't change. What did surprise me was how little sympathy I felt for the women in the case studi...moreI was predisposed to agree with the author and that didn't change. What did surprise me was how little sympathy I felt for the women in the case studies. They recognized the barriers thrown up by their workplaces easily enough, but consistently went through all kinds of contortions to justify their husbands' equally limiting actions. I also felt sorry for their children. The mothers all talked about how good it felt to structure and mold the children's little junior executive lives, but only a handful ever said anything about fun or playing with them. It was downright disturbing how little the mothers of pre-teens and teenagers trusted the kids, despite spending all this time on them. Their consistent snobbery put my back up too, with the insistence on CEO track or nothing, the idea that paid caregivers were intellectually inadequate, and the refusal to give up housekeepers in order to maintain the distinction between full-time mother and housewife. There were some great points about how motherhood is generally more demanding these days, or at least one yuppy development-centric version that you can choose to buy into. And it was fascinating to read (and confirm with coworkers) that working motherhood actually gets harder rather than easier once the kids are in school.(less)
Shorter and more blurby than I was expecting. Like blog entries, go figure. Clearly-explained science for us non-science folks, with a nice sense of h...moreShorter and more blurby than I was expecting. Like blog entries, go figure. Clearly-explained science for us non-science folks, with a nice sense of humor. Fun random factoids that are handy at parties.(less)
I'm fine with the fact that most of this book was common sense. That's the only kind of personal finance book I'm going to trust anyway. The fact that...moreI'm fine with the fact that most of this book was common sense. That's the only kind of personal finance book I'm going to trust anyway. The fact that everyone knows how they *should* spend/save/eat/etc doesn't magically make it happen and regular reminders and reinforcements are very useful.
What made the book almost unendurable for me (but I did finish it) was the cheesy sense of humor, especially when it crossed over into repeated requests for sexy photos from female readers and regular slams of Suze Orman. Not even her advice -- just her appearance. I've never watched her shows or whatever, but that's just inappropriate on general principle. Several principles, really.
I also get plenty of Stan Lee's style from Stan Lee himself, but that's just tiring, not offensive. Also charming - Every chapter begins with a handful of 'clever' quotes and at least one in each batch is from the author.
There were some valid points mixed into all that. Thinking in terms of choices rather than sacrifices. Settling for less beats being unsettled. Fiscal fasting and 'What was I thinking?' audits. References to Dominguez and Robin. And a really tasty sounding pasta and sausage dish.
I disagree that small savings (like the popular Starbucks ban) are useless. It all depends on what you do with the funds instead, and some people really can accumulate them for a useful purpose. Staying in the first house that you buy makes all kinds of fiscal and psychological sense if you can do it (I particularly liked the part about being able to decorate for yourself rather than for the market) but many of us have careers that require regular relocation. Not to mention aging parents, etc. I do agree that giving up a car is easier than people realize because I don't have one myself; and that's in an area with no public transportation. Asking to telecommute in lieu of a raise, however, is very creative thinking but unlikely to work out for most readers.
Unavoidable with his nonprofit background, but the advice to regularly read books about people who are truly suffering to help keep perspective isn't going to be attempted by many readers. It's not even particularly relevant. He's also a terrible travel snob.(less)
I'm giving up on this one. It's overdue and it's been a chore to slog through. I would normally have finished at least two books in this time. I've hi...moreI'm giving up on this one. It's overdue and it's been a chore to slog through. I would normally have finished at least two books in this time. I've hit the halfway mark and thus tried all six stories. I do love the concept. But none of the stories have been particularly interesting and the characters are consistently devoid of charisma. I just don't care. And that's after 250 pages. Maybe I'll try it again in the future.(less)
Fashion lit without guilt! Picked it up because it included Sandra Tsing Loh. Only recognized three or four other names, but particularly enjoyed Sher...moreFashion lit without guilt! Picked it up because it included Sandra Tsing Loh. Only recognized three or four other names, but particularly enjoyed Sherilyn Connelly and Nicole Georges. (In fact, I came across a Georges book two days after reading this and thus bought it.) There were definitely repeating themes and tones, but I was expecting that. Good balance of humor and anger. It helped that I'm about the same age of a lot of the writers, in terms of fashion memories.(less)
This book is basically about the classic 1950s+ convenience meals and how what was marketed (and thus what we remember) doesn't entirely match what re...moreThis book is basically about the classic 1950s+ convenience meals and how what was marketed (and thus what we remember) doesn't entirely match what really happened. Women kept making things from scratch (and enjoying it) at a higher rate than pop culture history has you believe.
She does a ton of research. One really interesting contrast, as an example, are the articles and recipes in major newspaper food supplements (or magazines) compared to the reader recipe requests and submissions in the same publications.
Although the social history was really interesting, the best part was the food itself. The really weird recipes and products they tried to foist on consumers.
Vichysoise : Frozen mashed potatoes stirred into Campbell's cream of chicken. A Harvest Luncheon: Vienna sausages broiled with canned peaches. Sprinkle cheese on tomatoes, top them with banana slices and mayo, and brown in the oven. Half a doughnut topped with a slice of cranberry sauce and a scoop of cottage cheese. A "sophisticated" dessert from Nestle: spread Saltines with cream cheese and top each with a sliced strawberry. Garden club salad: elbow macaroni, pineapple chunks, chopped cabbage, marshmallows, olives, Italian dressing.
The frozen and canned food industries did a lot of retooling after the war. The products that failed were sometimes really interesting, especially when they were really similar to the products that were smash hits. Everyone loved frozen concentrated orange juice but no one bought frozen concentrated tomato juice (people preferred the canned to even fresh, and still do). Frozen coffee didn't work either. Ditto powdered just-add-water wine. Canned cooked hamburgers. Frozen baked beans. Frozen concentrated mineral water! Fish sticks were insanely popular, but no one then bought breaded sticks of chicken, veal, eggplant, or lima beans.
And for those of you who hadn't already heard of candle salad: half a banana, standing upright in a pineapple ring, with a cherry on top.
Campbell's marketed soup for breakfast and there were ads recommending chocolate bars get stirred into oatmeal and 7-up into milk. Betty Crocker pushed a late-night "fourth meal" fifty years before Taco Bell.
This is a collection of personal essays, mostly personal anecdotes, similar to Nora Ephr...moreInspired to get this by finally watching The Heidi Chronicles.
This is a collection of personal essays, mostly personal anecdotes, similar to Nora Ephron's 'I Feel Bad About My Neck.' Written mostly for a NYC women's magazine, they're even shorter than Ephron's, and very late 80s. Lots of single-woman life. Some feminism. Some making-it-as-a-writer. She had horrible luck with men, although I already knew that. Maintained a good attitude, at least.
It was a fun, breezy read and -- two weeks later -- I've forgotten almost everything.(less)
Sort of random. Saw a blurb in Publisher's Weekly or such. Just looked at the pictures. There were many captions too, but they looked pretty technical...moreSort of random. Saw a blurb in Publisher's Weekly or such. Just looked at the pictures. There were many captions too, but they looked pretty technical. I just like cast iron as a design element. The book is divided by country, although it pretty much all looks like New Orleans. Everything is black and white; undecided on whether that's best. Both sketches and photos. Some beautiful stuff.(less)
Actually read the 1950 original. It was mentioned in 'Manly Meals and Mom's Home Cooking.' A hoot. Easy-to-follow visual recipes that (mostly) didn't...moreActually read the 1950 original. It was mentioned in 'Manly Meals and Mom's Home Cooking.' A hoot. Easy-to-follow visual recipes that (mostly) didn't skip important steps. Not as heavy on the seduction advice as led to believe, but it was there. Breakfast in bed. Different menus for different types of women. Cocktail recipes broken into context; Trader Vic light. Some 'classic' recipes have changed a lot over the years. French toast, spaghetti, and hamburgers all had odd components. And apparently India relish used to be very common. Never heard of it, but it sounds tasty.(less)