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The School of Essential Ingredients July 29, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Authors, Books, Fiction, Reading.
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Do you remember Grandmother’s kitchen fondly?  Did your spouse propose over a special meal?  Are you the sort of person who will prepare a nice dinner when you are dining solo?  Or do those possibilities sound good even if not currently applicable to you?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I suspect you will greatly enjoy The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister.  I just finished reading it (over a nice little lunch, thank you!) and it was a delight.

Eight students attend Lillian’s cooking class, and discover themselves through their experience of food.  Each chapter tells the story of one participant, and also guides us through their cooking experiences and their personal interactions.  Lillian teaches cooking, but it is not simply cuisine; it is the elements of the meal speaking to the heart as well as the senses.

Among other things, Lillian convinced me that I must learn to prepare a proper Sauce Bolognese.  I expect the book will inspire you to dust off your kitchen equipment, too.  Thank you, Erica Bauermeister, for giving us a book to savor!

Happy Reading (and Cooking)!

The Book Goddess

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Cookbooks for Summer Reading June 5, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Book Floor, Books, Just Browsing, Public libraries, readers, Reading, Reading lists, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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NPR recently released their “Summer Books List,” and this past Sunday’s New York Times featured their Summer Reading selections.  

One similarity between the two is that they both included a selection of cookbooks.  I love cookbooks, and my observations as a bookseller and a librarian are that many people do, whether they like to cook or not. 

And in these trying economic times, it might be a good idea to take an interest in food preparation.  Some financial pundits tell us that we could be wealthy if we didn’t go out to eat so much, though I doubt that applies to restaurant owners.  These are complex issues. 

However, the ability to prepare a good meal for friends, family, or yourself is undoubtedly a useful skill, and can also be an act of generosity, a creative outlet, or a way to take out your aggression by vigorous vegetable chopping. 

We have a wonderful Food and Wine section on the First Floor, and many more food titles in the Grand Reading Room on the Fourth Floor.  I’ve selected some delicious sounding titles from among our new arrivals, and you can link to the list here.  Just keep in mind that there are many more! 

Happy Reading and Cooking, 

The Book Goddess

Cooking, Culture, and Community October 18, 2007

Posted by bookgoddess in Books, library programs, Reading lists, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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I chose the theme of cookbooks for this month’s “All You Can Read Book Buffet” because October is National Cookbook Month (and because almost everyone loves food and many people love cookbooks).  And yes, there were some yummy selections.  But it turned out to be about more than that.

As I was making my choices, I was reminded that food is about so much more than taking in enough calories to get our daily tasks done.  The two themes that stood out for me, and that overlap considerably, are culture and community.

I started with my own cultural heritage – quite a mixture, really – and the first book I chose was the wonderful Florida Cookbook:  From Gulf Coast Gumbo to Key Lime Pie by Jeanne Voltz and Caroline Stuart.  They do a terrific job of bringing together the diverse regions and cultures that contribute to Florida cuisine.  And there are wonderful anecdotes and information about Florida cooks, restaurants, and specialty foods like swamp cabbage and stone crabs.

Other selections are from many of the world’s cuisines and culinary techniques (click here for the whole list), but one of my very favorites is Hungry Planet:  What the World Eats with text by Faith D’Aluisio and photographed by Peter Menzel.  This fascinating volume documents the eating habits of the world by showing families in several dozen countries with their weekly grocery shopping gathered around them in their homes.  Other photographs portray markets, food, and ways of life.  Statistics on income, overweight, and other related topics are provided.  From Great Britain to Bhutan, from spacious houses to rented rooms, everyone needs to eat. 

Recently, I attended a multicultural event in which people brought dishes from their native cuisine, or that of their ancestors, to share.  It was a wonderful dinner, and we all had the opportunity to try something new.  And I have to think that, in general, people who sit down and share a good meal have a much better chance of getting along.

I hope there’s a good meal and good people to share it with in your plans!

All the best,

The Book Goddess

P.S.  If you would like to be notified of book-related events at the West Palm Beach Public Library, please send your e-mail to me at albeet@mycitylibrary.org.