Raisin is a part of a small co-op group that occassionally reads a book and does activities related to it. Our most recent read was The Perfect Hamburger and Other Stories by Alexander McCall-Smith. Alexander McCall-Smith has always been a favorite author of mine. This particular collection of middle-grade stories are all related to food, and kids are somehow the heros. (more…)
Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson (to be published October 2012 by Basic Books) captures not just culinary history but cultural history, describing the foods eaten throughout history based on the tools available to prepare them. (more…)
Although I am an amateur home cook that struggles to enjoy the daily “what’s for dinner?” question and I also am far from a scientific thinker, I still enjoyed reading some essays about the scientific aspects of the cooking process. The Kitchen as a Laboratory: Reflections on the Science of Food and Cooking (to be published January 2012 by Columbia University Press) is a collection of essays edited by Cesar Vega, Job Ubbink, and Erik van der Linden. As with other anthologies, I found some essays worked for me and others did not. I skipped about five of the 33 essays, but of the others many were particularly memorable. (more…)
Just months before Molly Birnbaum was to enter the Culinary Institute of America to fulfill her dream to become a chef, she met with a violent accident. Although she escaped with her life, in addition to other physical wounds she had lost her sense of smell. Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way (Ecco, July 2011) is Molly’s story of finding her place in the kitchen again. But Season to Taste is far more than a personal memoir: it’s also a journalistic study of what smell means to flavor, cooking, and daily life. (more…)
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel is almost a genre by itself. The traditional Mexican recipes are provided in a novel format as it tells the story of Tita, Tita’s overbearing mother, and Tita’s lover, Pedro, who marries her sister. And yet, it’s not a cook book, and I don’t think it’s not an ordinary novel.
The title comes from the state of water just before it’s ready for hot chocolate: the water is simmering and the bubbles are about to burst on the surface.
Such a near eruption is Tita’s state throughout her life. From her childhood, Tita has been in the kitchen, and she longs to live a life of her own and to feel the passions that she is forbidden. As the third daughter, Tita is forced to care for her aging mother for the rest of her life, rather than to love and experience life. As much as Tita longs to escape, she is constantly trapped preparing the traditional dishes that only she knows how to prepare. These dishes, and the memories and emotions that stem from them, capture the sorrows of her life.
I loved reading this book. It was part novel. It was part romance. It was part magic. It was part cook book (although I’d never attempt to create the meals, given the long-winded, unclear instructions that start with plucking feathers and so forth). Certainly, Like Water for Chocolate had it faults in that it is short and all people in it were caricatures. And yet, I didn’t care. It was a fun book.
I liked it so much that I’d like to share it with a reader of Rebecca Reads. I’m giving away my lightly used copy.