Bookish!


I've a lot of fave books but there are several that I felt got me looking for good eats (paging Alton Brown). My mom's a good cook so I suppose I was well on the way! Our table practically groans with the weight of rich, flavorful savory feasts on weekends, since my mom (over)compensates for weekday meals of the lunch bag variety – fried, spoil-and- spill proof. Dinner is on reheat mode (long before microwave ovens) since the house empties out for school or work during the day. Weekend meals are much awaited events, with mom cooking a full-course storm with fresh-market goodies, slow cooking chunks of meat in super delish and yummy smelling sauce wafting throughout the house. The rice cooker goes on hyper cook mode, natch!

But on to the books that inspires me to eat or cook or just imagine I am doing either! The Five Little Peppers & How They Grew by Margaret Sidney firmed up the notion that even the humblest celebration is grander with food shared (and made) by everyone . Just think: lowly brown flour cakes become "cunning, elegant, light as a feather, splendid" creations in the eyes of the hard-up but plucky family! Imagine reading about an egg-less wonder of a cake that's “particularly plummy, with a raisin standing up on one end with a festive air” firing up my taste buds and can-do spirit!

Amy Tan’s The Kitchen God’s Wife made me think of my mom and Helen as kitchen improvs. Mom has never transformed three day old pom-pom fish into a sweet, tender feast though! This book crystallized for me the notion that cooking and food marks any time and feeling. The smells and eye candy, these shared ritual for sustenance became a way to keep tradition and handed down recipes, embed milestones to memory, show sympathy, and strengthen any flagging of the soul. “Any excuse to live life as full as the stomach can hold” as the book says, I've taken to heart.

My PR jobs provided plenty of opportunities to eat what I read (not the book, silly!). Before Eat, Pray, Love there was Extra Virgin by Annie Hawes , set in Liguria's press your- own- Olive Oil and grow- your- own-backyard- tomatoes village life! As I read how two English sisters adapt to a contrary lifestyle, I developed a love for Italian food (the real thing) and respect for orto (veggie garden) enthusiasts. Reading about antipasti made me want to eat salads and hanker for side dishes! Domesticity never sounded so good! Later, I would welcome my mom's getting into the herb garden trend because then I'd have basil, thyme, spring onions, leeks, finger chilis, pandan, gotu kola and mint to snip away into pasta, salads or salsa. My nephews love their (commercial) cheesemelt sandwich with a basil leaf or two, a slice of tomato, salt, pepper and a dash of hot sauce. When I’m feeling rich - magari - I splurge on mozzarella. We all put it away as if it was secondo piatto (main course).

I love chocolate, too! So Joanne Harris’ Chocolat and The Girl with No Shadow are it! The sequel is my favorite, for the happy ending; the nice sorting out of unfinished business; love-hanging-on-a-whiff (of chocolate) and a prayer (of sorts). Both books I love for all things chocolate - tempering, snapping, boiling, mantling fruits, wantonly displayed in gold or silver foil winking in a sun-filled café ...I want one right this minute! Chocolates and a cheery craftsy café of my own, with mismatched Goodwill furniture made over in Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic-est (decoupage, flowery, pastel hues and and milk paint) before Martha Stewart pandered bespoke chairs and candy colors. Incidentally, I like the look of My Sweetie Pie, brings out the girly-girl in anyone!

It’s the words describing all that cooking and food and the emotion of the moment that I love! The slow reveal from stove to plate to tongue to stomach feel. I let the words linger, reading them over and over until I am there, the words unraveling tastes and smells just as my own hunger unravels and I reach for a sandwich or raid the ref for something close. Then, comfort at last. Burrrpppp!!! ; )

Ps. Magari loosely translates to "chance would be a fine thing”. Hah! Like me living in a mod/cons villa on a mod/cons farm in Italy with a hunky yuppie guy who loves to cook for me! Wishful thinking, much?

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