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The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
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Reading Challenges > June 2013 Reading Challenge: Food

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message 1: by Justin (last edited Jun 01, 2013 10:22AM) (new)

Justin (ars_legendi) | 75 comments Mod
Summer Reading officially begins today, so drop by your branch to sign up (and beat the sudden heat). The theme this year: "Reading is So Delicious!"

In honor of our theme, this month's reading challenge is all about food. The official challenge book is The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, but there's a whole world of food books to choose from. One of the activities on this year's Adult Summer Reading card is to check out a cookbook; if you're handy in the kitchen, try a new recipe and post your results here (I've recommended a few general-purpose cookbooks below that I love). Alternatively, you could seek out a culinary travelogue, a food-based memoir, kitchen fiction, a mystery with recipes... anything that marries words to food.

Post your progress and thoughts here. As usual, we'll give an advance reader's copy away to one lucky participant. Mangia!

Chelsea Couillard-Smith I'm excited to try the Vintage Cooking Challenge posted this week on SPL's Facebook page:

I've also checked out some new vegetarian cookbooks to try out on my husband, so we'll see which one I like best.

message 3: by Brendle (new)

Brendle (akajill) | 235 comments Mod
I was thinking about reading one of two food heavy travelogues about China (Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper by Dunlop or Serve The People by Jen Lin-Liu) but my copy of Gulp by Mary Roach will be here soon. I think a book about what happens to food after you eat it will be perfect for this--especially one by Mary Roach who makes everything interesting.

message 4: by Annemarie (new)

Annemarie Keenan | 45 comments I am a newbie on Food but I did watch the movie version of the food industry which made me look carefully at brands and the fast food industry. I have discovered that I like certain food mysteries such as a new series by author Lucy Burdette---"An appetite for murder" and "Death in Four Courses". I just started "Topped Chef" and I can't put it down! I am looking for a good cookbook that would appeal to my husband as he is the chef in our house.

message 5: by Amy (new)

Amy | 20 comments Mod
The Coffeehouse Mysteries by Cleo Coyle are another good food mystery series. They're light reading, but very fun.

message 6: by Annemarie (new)

Annemarie Keenan | 45 comments Thanks. I'll give her a try!

message 7: by Justin (new)

Justin (ars_legendi) | 75 comments Mod
I'm starting to delve more and more into cookbooks. My current favorite (Cooking for Geeks) is in the recommendations below, but my latest one is a book called Culinary Tea. I used it to make a filet mignon crusted with Earl Grey tea leaves, and improvised by using Grand Marnier with the glaze. Yum.

Also, I'm slowly making my way through a great comic series called Chew, which is about a detective that can pick up psychic emanations from anything he eats. Since he's a detective, though, he often ends up chewing on people. It's gory, crass, and ridiculous, but it's also tightly plotted and hilarious. I think it's become my favorite comic.

message 8: by Bridget (new) - added it

Bridget (bbagne) | 4 comments I just started My Life From Scratch: A Sweet Journey of Starting Over, One Cake at a Time by Gesine Bullock-Prado (previously published as Confections of a Closet Master Baker). Loving the humor and vicarious thrill of stories from Sandra Bullock's younger sister.

message 9: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 1 comments Justin wrote: "I'm starting to delve more and more into cookbooks. My current favorite (Cooking for Geeks) is in the recommendations below, but my latest one is a book called Culinary Tea. I used it to make a fil..."
Justin, what time should we head over for dinner??? Your filet sounds fabulous!

message 10: by Annemarie (new)

Annemarie Keenan | 45 comments I don't like Earl Grey tea but the filet sounds wonderful! I agree with Lisa--what time is dinner???

message 11: by Justin (new)

Justin (ars_legendi) | 75 comments Mod
You'd expect the leaves to be bitter, but if you combine them with salt, garlic and pepper and let them char, only the crunch and the taste of the bergamot oil comes through.

Also, that book introduced me to the concept of tea-marbled eggs, which are just cool.

message 12: by Annemarie (new)

Annemarie Keenan | 45 comments It is definitely on my list to try. Do you know any Chinese restaurants that serve the eggs?

message 13: by John (new)

John | 105 comments I haven't tackled any food-related books recently (other than the occasional cookbook). However, culinary mysteries are popular, so McKinley has a display of tasty morsels with irresistible titles like "Death by Chocolate," "Affairs of Steak," "Revenge of the Barbecue Queens," and "Pies and Prejudice."

message 14: by Annemarie (new)

Annemarie Keenan | 45 comments Thanks. I'll have to check into some of those titles. "Death by Chocolate" definitely sounds delish!

Chelsea Couillard-Smith I checked out "Farmstand Favorites Cookbook," but was disappointed in the recipes - few caught my eye, and most were from random sources like the Honey Association of America (or something like that). I did make one recipe, a Mexibean Lasagna that was fine but not spectacular.

I just got "River Cottage Veg" from the library and am really feeling inspired. So many recipes look delicious and relatively easy, so I'm hoping to have more success with this one. I may even buy myself a copy - it reminds me of Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything," just a really excellent basic cookbook to have around.

message 16: by Jennifer (new) - added it

Jennifer (gxeninjo) | 9 comments I just checked out "The Kitchen Counter Cooking School." It looks like a good read. My sister read it, and she was surprised at some of what she learned. I plan to start it today or tomorrow.

message 17: by Brendle (new)

Brendle (akajill) | 235 comments Mod
I finished up Gulp by Mary Roach last week and found it to be absolutely disgusting and delightful reading. I may have learned a lot more about Elvis Presley's death than I wanted to know, but I still very much enjoyed finding out about the digestive system as a whole. The most enjoyable thing, though, were the scientists that Roach interviewed. Many of them do not get asked about their work that often. ("Oh, you study saliva? Ummm...") I can only imagine how delighted they were to be interviewed by the author and share their research.

message 18: by Justin (new)

Justin (ars_legendi) | 75 comments Mod
I love everything I've ever read by Mary Roach.

message 19: by Justin (new)

Justin (ars_legendi) | 75 comments Mod
Well, June has passed us by. I had fun with this challenge; I often take my food for granted, so reading deep, introspective books on how food reaches my table (such as the challenge book, or anything by Michael Pollan, really) is always an eye-opening experience. I also continued my foray into my cookbook shelf, after a few heartening successes. I found out this past weekend while trying a tri-tip recipe that the low setting on my grill is not so low. Thankfully, the meat was just too well done, rather than ruined, so it made a good ingredient in some other dishes!

One lucky participant in our Reading Challenge discussion gets a free advance reader's copy of a soon-to-be-published book, and this month our winner is Annemarie! Please let us know which library branch you would like us to send your prize.

message 20: by Annemarie (last edited Jul 03, 2013 08:44PM) (new)

Annemarie Keenan | 45 comments Thank you for choosing me, Justin! I do all my reading at the Robbie Waters Library in the Pocket, so please send my copy to that library.
We had an excellent discussion tonight at our movie night. "Casablanca" was the movie of choice and although it takes place mostly in a saloon, there was no food involved! I look forward to our discussion n September.

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