It may seem precious to consider butter, an everyday common food enrichment we pretty much take for granted. We might see the rise of interest in artiIt may seem precious to consider butter, an everyday common food enrichment we pretty much take for granted. We might see the rise of interest in artisanal and rare butters as just another foodie-fad, a preoccupation of the overly well-fed.
This book sorts through all that. It is an investigation written in a succinct, clear fashion—more of a chronology than a dramatic narrative, a straight-up guide to more complete understanding.
We discover the origins of this most universally used foodstuff, its history, its chemical makeup, the matrilineal culture that informed its production for centuries, and still does in remote India and Nepal. We learn about the varied nutritional properties of butter, and its vitamin profile may surprise some readers.
The author also details how butter came to be banished in place of margarine from millions of North American tables from the Sixties to the Nineties. And it still is, as bad ideas can be sticky long past their point of rancidity.
Lobbied by industry in the 1960s and 1970s, the FDA favoured one flawed research finding (saturated fat consumption promotes heart disease) over another (industrial foods made from edible oils reduce those risks), to the long-term detriment of public health.
Aside from fuelling poor food choices and compromised health, such regulatory decisions may have fostered a growing erosion of public trust in the institutions established to protect citizens from exactly this sort of thing.
Ms Khosrova doesn't dwell on the politics of butter banishment, however. Moreover, the pendulum is swinging back to basics in many new and exciting ways. Her coverage of various butter-making techniques in a selection of today's leading small batch artisanal dairies is a fascinating glimpse of the knowledge and craft behind the best butters made today.
The book concludes with recipes for sweet, clarified, compound butters, as well as ghee. This was reason enough for me to move it from a bedroom pleasure-reading shelf to the pantry cookbook shelf to serve as a handy reference. Julia Child would certainly approve. (Smiling)...more
This book was not at all what I expected, and I suppose that's a good thing. I don't think it is so much about dogs as it is about the limits we humanThis book was not at all what I expected, and I suppose that's a good thing. I don't think it is so much about dogs as it is about the limits we humans face, the smallness of our concerns, the oblivious way we carry on.
The references to classical myth are intriguing but they also had the effect of distancing me from the narrative and the story of each dog. I am not sure I understand the conceit that sets these unhappy creatures on the path to sorry lives and sorrier ends, the bet between Apollo and Hermes.
I could not put the novel down. I found it deeply disturbing and yet I was compelled to read on, wincing a lot of the time, sad for the creatures in the book, dogs especially, and humans as well.
The author chose not to balance the murderous, conniving, self-serving impulses in some of the dogs with kinder, gentler qualities. Morality, altruism, caring for others, well, these qualities are absent in the essential Darwinian struggle that unfolds. Dogs that are less violent and more naive are dispatched with breathtaking viciousness.
I wondered at times if this story stands as a metaphor, an indictment of neoliberalism and its failure to advance the well-being of the least advantaged in our society.
But the book is not really about socioeconomic order; it's almost anthropological in its study of wasted life, intellect as capacity misused or unused or destroyed by violence or thwarting.
While one dog is an artist-poet and another finds "God", none of it matters in terms of the narrative. Regardless of character all the dogs die sadly, none the wiser, after impulse-driven lives that are a mystery to the creatures themselves. Intelligence alone does not mean we understand our world or one another.
He seems to be saying humans are dangerous, self-destructive and species-annihilating, without redeeming qualities, and therefore, without hope.
After the first three books in this series, I read this final novel voraciously, hungry for the conclusion to a lifelong—fraught—relationship. The conAfter the first three books in this series, I read this final novel voraciously, hungry for the conclusion to a lifelong—fraught—relationship. The connection between these two women is so real, almost a sisterly bond, with its intensity, the piling on of grievances, followed by forgiveness, the effort to let the past rest. Set as it is against the evolving political chaos of modern Italy, the story nests an overriding sense of failure in the belly of success. These are essentially unhappy women, often depressed, essentially solitary, notwithstanding myriad complicated relationships and binding ties forged, broken, refastened, then broken again.
I found the narrator Elena often unsympathetic, self-involved: she seems so real, as full of contradictions, self-doubt, self-deception as any of us. She seems to float above herself. It was hard to reserve judgement sometimes because she often seems so essentially self-serving and disloyal. I love that the author gives us deeply drawn characters, showing how the insecure child lives on—in various forms—in the accomplished adult.
The relational conflict and dissatisfaction with family and community that evolves over a half-century permeates all four books, gaining momentum in this last volume. I was caught between wanting the suffering to stop and reading on to find out how it all ends. Still thinking about it....more
I found this story so gripping, a real page-turner. Michael Lewis has a gift for taking super-complex, abstract subjects and making them into thrillerI found this story so gripping, a real page-turner. Michael Lewis has a gift for taking super-complex, abstract subjects and making them into thrillers, with unusual, quirky characters. That the heroes of this story are a mild-mannered Canadian executive, a natural leader with vision and integrity and a brilliant, profane Irishman makes it even more sweetly delicious, two guys on a mission to do right by investors and tame the Wolves of Wall Street.
But the book is also a scary bedtime story for our times: While inspiring, it left me very troubled about the future when our financial stability relies on increasingly complex systems gamed to make billions for front-running high frequency traders at the expense of ordinary investors. Moreover the system is prone to fail in catastrophic fashion, while those responsible remain largely obscured from view, facing no consequences for the damage done. Dark pools indeed....more
Riveting. The two friends around which this complex narrative spins are, each in her own way, brilliant, complex, self-punishing, at times, contradictRiveting. The two friends around which this complex narrative spins are, each in her own way, brilliant, complex, self-punishing, at times, contradictory.
Ms Ferrante and translator Ann Goldstein animate thought-chasing as lived experience, as reality for protagonist, Elena, even when she doesn't act on her desires, capturing that particular second-guessing self-doubt so many women develop as we grow up under patriarchy.
The fraught lives of Elena and Lina/Lila take twists and turns driven by impulses even they themselves don't always seem to understand. As their respective stories unfold they drift apart, yet their relationship remains the unifying force of the story.
The author (and translator) bring the intellectual, social, and political upheavals, coupled with class conflicts, of the Sixties and early Seventies vividly to life through characters who seem so real, flawed, human.
Page by page, tension and pressure build as Elena's long-repressed rage, passion, and unmet desire find their explosive (yet inescapable) release....more
These essays shed light on the harsh lived reality of the majority of Americans in the first 15 years of the 21st century.
The author, an anthropologiThese essays shed light on the harsh lived reality of the majority of Americans in the first 15 years of the 21st century.
The author, an anthropologist, reviews the public policy and cultural roots of today's widespread socioeconomic troubles. Government choices—like expanding poverty as a means of social control—are explored. Difficult questions are asked; they are not answered.
The author wisely avoids prescribing slick, easy fixes; it is enough that she brings razor sharp focus and brilliant insight to bear on her subjects.
The essays repeat the same themes with slight adjustments in perspective or context but this, for me, reinforces her ideas, strengthening the impact and force of her perspective. ...more
Unstoppably readable. These characters, moving from early teens through early adulthood, feel hyper real, very present to me, and their relationships,Unstoppably readable. These characters, moving from early teens through early adulthood, feel hyper real, very present to me, and their relationships, struggles, betrayals, and choices make for compelling, addictive, constant reading. It comprises the rare reading experience where I find myself thinking about the narrative when I am not actually reading it, as I go about the daily round of tasks and obligations. I am now beginning the third book in the Neapolitan Novels as I have an almost visceral need to know what happens as these two characters move through the prime of their lives. Like the many millions of devoted Ferrante readers around the world, I am besotted. I also think that the book, in English, is nuanced and beautiful to read, and I can imagine that it is even moreso in the multi-layered Italian and dialect referenced throughout....more
Enjoyable as always. Brilliant writing, really strong narrative that makes arcane—and often complex—ideas come to life. The problem, for me, is that tEnjoyable as always. Brilliant writing, really strong narrative that makes arcane—and often complex—ideas come to life. The problem, for me, is that the central thesis amounts to an exploration of the exception that proves the rule. Goliath mostly wins. Goliath is always there, though he may lose a battle, he regroups to wage war, as seems so evident in world events. Do powerful, mythic exceptions—dare I say "outliers"?—make it otherwise?
That said, I found "David and Goliath" fun to read, replete with well-structured stories about some truly remarkable people....more
This writer takes the long view, placing American elections in the context of governance, between 1860 and 2012. Specific campaigns matter less, notwiThis writer takes the long view, placing American elections in the context of governance, between 1860 and 2012. Specific campaigns matter less, notwithstanding the time, energy, money and media attention invested in them.
The book highlights (for me) an Achilles' Heel of the American electoral system, its complexities, and its capacity for divisive, disruptive, and ultimately undemocratic outcomes. Interesting, to me, is how very inconsistent each political party is, and how little policy platforms really matter.
One thing that struck me: this book is viewed as having a stellar record of predicting electoral outcomes in the US since 1981. As an academic, Professor Lichtman interprets key conditions that turn electoral decision keys one way or the other.
Yet Professor Lichtman himself hedged on using the keys to predict the outcome in 2016 until very late in the game, equivocal until late September 2016. And his model predicted that Mr. Trump would win the popular vote, but not necessarily the election. The reverse happened.
Could it be that he suspected a more fundamental and anti-democratic, authoritarian shift (outside his model) that will remake the country?
While the book discusses populist candidates, they are treated more as (Key 4) spoilers in a fundamentally democratic system. With its focus on historical modeling, the book can not address the use of today's tools of mass manipulation by well-organized bad actors, including foreign states like Russia and billionaire elites like Peter Thiel, to elect a puppet president.
Nevertheless the book is worth a read as a record of the American electoral experiment, its highs and lows from the pre-Civil War years to 2012....more