I fell in love with the Tupelo Honey Cafe on a recent trip to Asheville. I had to buy the cookbook to try to recreate some of the magic at home. Mmmm,...moreI fell in love with the Tupelo Honey Cafe on a recent trip to Asheville. I had to buy the cookbook to try to recreate some of the magic at home. Mmmm, fried chicken...(less)
ARC received through the Goodreads First Reads program.
This is a wonderful book. Read it if you have allergies… or know someone with allergies… or hav...moreARC received through the Goodreads First Reads program.
This is a wonderful book. Read it if you have allergies… or know someone with allergies… or have another food-restrictive condition, like diabetes… or if none of these apply to you. Read the book.
Sandra Beasley (aka Allergy Girl) is severely allergic to a good many things. This has made life complicated for her, but she doesn't feel sorry for herself (and you shouldn't, either). Beasley's book is one part memoir, one part history of allergies and food fads, and one part cultural investigation of the way allergies are handled and researched today. Beasley's book is extremely educational about the things most of us don't need to concern ourselves with that she and other allergy sufferers need to think about, such as "what did my boyfriend eat two hours ago? Is it safe for me to kiss him?" and "What else has been cooked on that restaurant griddle?"
I found myself identifying with this book because of my diabetes. I grew up before the current epidemic of Type II diabetes made the condition common knowledge. The onus was very much on me to inform, educate, and be my own advocate from a very early age--something that Beasley also had to do. On top of that, I was also allergic to peanuts. I have grown out of this, thank goodness. I was 20 the first time I had peanut butter.
Whether or not you can related directly, Beasley's book is informative, funny, and very much worth reading if you want to understand what it's like to live with food allergies. Although the subject matter is fairly heavy, Beasley's levity and style make for quick reading.(less)
**spoiler alert** ARC received through the Goodreads First Reads program.
Reading chef's memoirs makes me really want to cook for a living, but it also...more**spoiler alert** ARC received through the Goodreads First Reads program.
Reading chef's memoirs makes me really want to cook for a living, but it also makes me realize that I could never do it. I love food, and I love to prepare food, but onyl as a hobby. It's a fascinating, difficult life. That's why I love this genre so much--I can experience the life vicariously.
I had never heard of Greg Achatz before I entered the giveaway for this book. I'm really surprised I had never heard of him, as I do a fair bit of reading on the restaurant industry. He was born into a restaurant family, and more or less grew up in a commercial kitchen. Raised making standard diner fare, Achatz learns to cook haute cuisine at the Culinary Institute of America, as well as working at Charlie Trotter's and The French Laundry. He eventually opens his own restaurant, Alinea, as a way to explore new ways of thinking about food preparation that he discovered during a stint at elBulli in Spain. He achieved incredible success at a very young age... but then comes the tongue cancer. Not much of the total pagecount deals with Achatz's struggle with cancer, but the pages that do are wrenching.
This is Greg's story, but he's not the only one to tell it. A little less than halfway through the book, we're joined by a second writer, Achatz's business partner Nick Kokonas. Kokonas and Achatz open Alinea together, with Kokonas running the business side while Achatz runs the kitchen. It's a great partnership and friendship, one that produced what we're told is one of the best restaurants in the world. Nick's sections are delineated with a different font, making it easy to remember which person you're hearing from at any given moment. I found this technique to be a little jarring at first, but after adjusting, I realize that it works. Both writers are honest about ups and downs in a way that really drives home that they are real people telling a real story.
Yes, Achatz has an ego the size of an elephant, but that is totally OK. His drive is singular, but that's OK too. Without the ego and the drive, he would have opted for the surgery rather than going for the experimental treatment that left him his tongue. Despite the ego, Achatz is willing to admit what's not so great about his personality, which is admirable. After reading this book, I admit that I am very curious about Alinea, and hope to make it there someday to experience Achatz's creations for myself.(less)
ARC received through the First Reads giveaway program.
What an interesting life Gabrielle Hamilton has had! Blood, Bones, and Butter is Hamilton's chr...moreARC received through the First Reads giveaway program.
What an interesting life Gabrielle Hamilton has had! Blood, Bones, and Butter is Hamilton's chronicle of her life as it relates to food. Much of this is in a professional setting, with her early jobs waitressing in restaurants throuhg the opening of her own restaurant, Prune, but not all. Some of the most memorable snippets of the book for me are scenes from Hamilton's childhood kitchen, where all food experiences are fresh and wonderful.
Hamilton has broken her book into three sections, per her title: Blood, Bones, and Butter. The Blood section deals with Hamilton's background: her family and her earliest kitchen experiences. Bones covers her early adult life and developing chops as a chef. The last section, Butter, deals mostly with her family life with her Italian husband Michele and visits to his extended family in Italy. The food thread continues (of course), but all of the family drama and marital bitterness made me feel as if I'd fallen into a different book.
I LOVED the first two sections. The Blood section has the added bonus of taking place in an area that I'm familiar with, so I feel like I get a clearer picture of the locations. The Bones section was also wonderful: Hamilton's forays into graduate programs, work at a summer camp (among other places), and ultimately finding a place for herself. The Gabrielle Hamilton of these first two sections sounds like someone I desperately want to be friends with. The third section didn't grip me in the same way. Hamilton is unhappy in her relationship, and it really shows in the writing. There is great merit in the fact that Hamilton can portray this shift so subtly, but it lessened my enjoyment of the work as a whole.
Despite going out on what I thought was a weak note, this is a fantastic book, especially for those who are interested in food, and reading the story of someone who didn't set out to cook, but kind of fell into cooking instead.(less)
I really liked this one. I liked the small peeks into the lives of the characters (hooray character studies!), and best of all was the food. This book...moreI really liked this one. I liked the small peeks into the lives of the characters (hooray character studies!), and best of all was the food. This book made me really really hungry. It also made me miss my kitchen--I read it while I was on vacation and it made me want to go home and cook things.(less)
ARC received through the First Reads giveaway program.
The language is very poetic, but overall Jaspreet Singh's Chef left me very confused. I had a ha...moreARC received through the First Reads giveaway program.
The language is very poetic, but overall Jaspreet Singh's Chef left me very confused. I had a hard time relating to Kip, the protagonist. I couldn't really get a handle on him. I didn't get much of a sense of any personality. He seemed to function mostly as a sounding board for others.
I didn't read (or pick up on) enough information about the India/Pakistan conflict, but in this case it's because of a rather large gap in my knowledge. A sense of place was missing, too. I never got a good idea about the places where the story was set (other than the glacier, of course). I had the sneaking suspicion that I was missing something the entire time I was reading this one.
I see Chef as being one of those polarizing love-or-hate books. This one was not for me, unfortunately.(less)