Don't tell anyone, but this is one of the few alternate history novels I genuinely enjoyed reading. The pace lags a few times, but Robinson's clever tDon't tell anyone, but this is one of the few alternate history novels I genuinely enjoyed reading. The pace lags a few times, but Robinson's clever thought experiments more than make up for the sometimes overly leisurely narrative style. The story frame is probably a love-it-or-hate-it situation, so don't say I didn't warn you....more
The first time I tried to read "Aye, and Gomorrah" (the short story that this collection is named after), I didn't get it at all. Delany's writing isThe first time I tried to read "Aye, and Gomorrah" (the short story that this collection is named after), I didn't get it at all. Delany's writing is very opaque at times, and the 11-year-old that I was didn't always understand the themes he deals with (class, family, perception, concept-refraction--yeah, he's also a literary critic). I found this book on my shelf the last time I went to my parents' and decided to try reading it again. I whipped through it over the course of a very busy two weeks and am very glad that I did so. His writing, while at times (as I said) opaque, is excellent--he's something of a "writer's writer." His stories don't cling to any particular sub-genre of SF (at least, not that I can tell)--instead, they tend to be very cerebral, focusing more on concepts than on characters or plots. (Though not as much as Italo Calvino...) Delany is also black, gay, and dyslexic, making him something of a triple-threat minority SF writer....more
I love reading this book, but because I live in an apartment, some of these recipes would be a bit of a stretch for me (crocks of sauerkraut in the tiI love reading this book, but because I live in an apartment, some of these recipes would be a bit of a stretch for me (crocks of sauerkraut in the tiny kitchen I share with two physics grad students? I think not). Nonetheless, it's opened my eyes to a whole new world of food. I'm ashamed to say that I still haven't tried most of these recipes, but perhaps remembering that I haven't and writing this review will prompt me to get this book back out and get to fermentin'. Then I can post a more complete review....more
This cookbook brought my understanding of food to a new level. More than any other (aside from perhaps my Zen cookbook), Fallon's book made me engageThis cookbook brought my understanding of food to a new level. More than any other (aside from perhaps my Zen cookbook), Fallon's book made me engage with ingredients and think about them in new ways. It added another dimension to my cooking (almost literally--it was like moving from Flatland to Sphereland). It showed me where the life was in my food.
With that said: DO NOT RELY on Sally Fallon for your nutrition and cooking information needs. She is just as much of a diet dictocrat as the shadowy figures she rails against--and forget about the "studies" she cites throughout (in 10pt marginalia on every page, no less). She lives in a mysterious and no doubt exciting world where anecdotal evidence topples the wisdom of decades and the hard work of scientists, where the dietary necessities of "primitive" cultures become the gospel for a decadent First World, and where any foodstuff that comes in a box is imbued with some sort of acid that slowly eats away at your vitals.
I exaggerate. But not much. She represents most of what I love and hate about the holistic health movement(s), and as a result, I think that her book is important reading for all of us.
In brief: she advocates whole foods, healthy fats, plenty of meat, lots of cooked vegetables, lots of whole grains, lots of fermented dairy, and lots of fermentation in general. I heartily approve of her general cooking philosophy (although I have no objections to vegetarianism, as she does), but I don't approve of her premises or her strictness.
As with almost any cookbook of this length (7x10, 12 and 10 point font, no photos, nearly700 pages), the recipes are hit or miss, although there are a higher proportion of winners than one might expect. She shines, oddly enough, in the snack and dessert sections (possibly because I don't have an enormous sweet tooth). Likewise, her dairy and egg recipes are almost universally delicious. Her bread and grain recipes are quite good if you pay attention to proportions and add (gasp!) white flour when necessary. It's definitely a good idea to experiment with her condiments; many of the recipes are good, but tastes will vary. She gets low marks from me in the seafood section; many of the recipes are bland, and most involve poaching. I have no desire to poach every fish I eat.
If you're a gourmand, her most unusual recipes are certainly the reason to buy this book. She provides excellent step-by-step instructions for daunting projects like sourdough, sauerkraut, kimchi, various chutneys, and raw meat appetizers. She also includes recipes for obscure and old-fashioned dishes and drinks like small beer, liver and onions, and Yorkshire pudding. She does not always do justice to non-European dishes; sometimes it's her fear of heavy flavoring, and sometimes she just seems to miss the point. Most importantly, though, you can gain a real, nuanced understanding of fermented foods and traditional cuisines through her notes--as long as you ignore some of the more wingnutty bits and supplement with your own reading.
If you are looking for a sensible introduction to home cooking, this is not the book I would recommend for you. But if you know a bit about food, and you want to connect with and think critically about your food, I heartily recommend this book....more