Monday, February 05, 2007

Not Really a Book Review, But a Few Snippets

...from what I've been reading.

A typical quote from You Suck, by Christopher Moore:

It turned out that superhuman vampire strength came in handy when shaving a thirty-five-pound cat. After a couple of false starts, which had them chasing Chet the huge shaving-cream-covered cat around the loft, they discovered the value of duct tape as a grooming tool. Because of the tape, they weren't able to shave his feet. When they were finished, Chet looked like a big-eyed, potbellied, protohuman in fur-lined, duct-tape space boots - the feline love child of Golem and Doddy the house elf. p. 29.

And from The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation, by David Kamp:

In a letter to Charlie in December 1949, Paul [Child] described, for the first time, the sight of his wife, in their home kitchen, cooking French food - mostly likely a cassoulet, given the details: "The oven door opens and shuts so fast you hardly notice the deft thrust of a spoon as she dips into a casserole and up to her mouth for a taste-check....Now & again a flash of the non-cooking Julie lights up the scene briefly, as it it did the day before yesterday when with her bare fingers, she snatched a set of cannellini [beans] out of the pot of boiling water with the cry, 'Wow! These damn things are as hot as a stiff cock.' " p. 52

I have nothing but praise for these two books. You Suck (a sequel to Bloodsucking Fiends) combines manic description, a totally unpredictable plot, and a unique cast of characters, including vampires (duh), the night crew at Safeway, and Goth teenagers.

The United States of Arugula mixes culinary history (mostly from the last fifty years) with fascinating biography - most notably, of Julia Child, James Beard, and Craig Claiborne. It is educational as well as entertaining - I never realized that rocket and arugula were the same plant. And it's pretty interesting how Kamp describes just how and why I (and thousands of other Americans) have particular cookbooks on my bookshelves: The Joy of Cooking, Recipes for a Small Planet, The Art of Mexican Cooking, The Moosewood Cookbook, and a Silver Palate cookbook are all mentioned in some detail. And since I've lived in this area for over twenty years, it was satisfying to see that Zingerman's got described, too, though not in the same detail as several New York delis.

Ha. Even though this is titled 'Not Really a Book Review', I think I'll label it as one.


Phantom Scribbler said...

You've sold me on the Kamp book.

Sandy D. said...

I also should point out that despite the pithy quote from Julia Child above, she comes off as one of the true 'gentlewomen' of the era - she consistently refused to backbite, gossip, or abuse her power and position, which came rather late in life. It says something amazing about a person when your biographers have nothing bad to say about you, no matter how much they research or whom they talk to.

eq said...

You've sold me on You Suck. I may pick it up at Borders this weekend! :-)


Nuthatch said...

Love Christopher Moore!

Anonymous said...

my fav christopher moore book is " a dirty job"- happy belated b-day by the way! hope it was a good one!

utenzi said...

Late last year I happened to see a few episodes of The Galloping Gourmet on cable. I was shocked at how unsophisticated the audience was about food. We here in the States have come a long way in a few decades.

Anonymous said...

Can you please advice me some books about history of French cuisine?