Elatia Harris’s Top 10 Food Books 2013

Published by Wednesday, January 15, 2014 Permalink 0

Elatia Harris’s Top 10 Books 2013, on Cooking, Food History & Food Politics

by Elatia Harris

For this list to be coherent, I have to have actually read and truly admired the books on it. Check! If they are cookbooks, I have to have cooked from them with great results. Check! I want to hear what your entries would be – it was a great year for books about food and cooking, and I’ve had to leave many good ones out.

ElatiaBooks ElatiaBooks

1. Cuisine and Empire, by Rachel Laudan

20,000 years of the great movements of history, written with the kitchen at the center. If you want to take a very long view, and think hard about power – getting it, keeping it, getting it back – then the intimate and often surprising relationship between food and power, in Laudan’s telling, will astonish you. The historical counterpart to Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking, this is a supremely important book that is a great pleasure to read. Don’t be afraid of its bigness, for it’s a truly manageable length. Read it fast, think about it forever.

2. Three Squares, by Abigail Carroll

How did the American Diet evolve? We’re not eating like they did at Plimouth Plantation, or like Thomas Jefferson ate – what ARE we eating like? For a fresh view of what’s uniquely American about our foodways, this book is a treasure.

3. Foodopoly, by Wenonah Hauter

The activist Wenonah Hauter has written Foodopoly to take on, and urge readers to take on, the dark side of our food systems, and it’s a very dark side indeed. Can there be reclamation? Can the trend towards domination by fewer and bigger companies ever be reversed? “Yes, but…” Hauter tells us, and then she tells us what that would take.

4. Behind the Kitchen Door, by Saru Jayaraman

The author is a labor organizer who believes that the maltreatment of food service workers need not be the ugly secret of the US restaurant industry. But right now, it is. What would have to happen, for food service workers to be paid a living wage and given paid sick days? One in every twelve people in the USA works in food service – how should they be treated? In its way, this is a companion volume to Foodopoly, asking all the right questions, answering not a few.

5. Raising Dough, by Elizabeth U

A guide to using other people’s money to finance your socially responsible food business, this is a hard-headed book for mostly young idealists. Brilliantly thorough, if you are on a mission but lack for practical knowledge of the business world. Especially valuable are the ideas for working around a financier’s natural unwillingness to lend money to anyone hoping to do good.

6. Arribes: Everything Else is Noise, by Zev Robinson

Film maker and painter Zev Robinson could turn Arribes, a DVD, into a commanding book, so I’m counting it in. Arribes is a rural area in northwestern Spain where people are 80% self-sufficient. One of those places where life is both simple and difficult – and movingly sustainable. Robinson’s eye for Spanish classical painting serves beautifully here. If by magic Zurbaran and Murillo could see Arribes, they would recognize their own lineages instantly and with pleasure.

7. Mushroom, by Cynthia D. Bertelsen

Confused about the world history of mushrooms? Wondering about foraging for them or choosing them or storing them? And what about a few recipes? Culinary historian Cynthia D. Bertelsen has solved all your problems in this tiny, indispensible book, a delight from beginning to end. You will read it in a snowy evening, you will consult it forever after. And if you’re still not satisfied with the mushrooms in your life, you’ll have instructions for growing your own.

8. Celebraciones Mexicanas, by Andrea Lawson Gray and Adriana Almazan Lahl

Andrea Gray and Adriana Lahl have a winner in this charmingly beautiful cookbook that focuses on the food of Mexico’s festivals. As well as recipes, there is abundant material about history and folklore, much of it highly visual and appealing to children – it’s a perfect family gift. Professional cooks as well as writers, Gray and Lahl know their way around the Mexican kitchen. It’s a labor-intensive cuisine, and the streamlining here is as intelligent as any I have ever seen – no false notes, some truly helpful simplifications. If you want the best ever recipe for Nogada Sauce, one of the signature paradisal items in Like Water for Chocolate, buy the book and turn to page 257.

9. Spice and Kosher, by Dr. Essie Sassoon, Bala Menon, and Kenny Salem

The Jewish community in Cochin, in the South Indian state of Kerala, was intensely lively for 2000 years. It has dwindled now to a few souls, but its culinary traditions belong to the world, many having partaken of, and been absorbed into, mainstream Indian cooking. Knowing that, soon, the cuisine will have outlived its people, the three authors, all originally Jews of Cochin, wrote this excellent cookbook — full of fascinating history, good recipes and directions for good practice — as a testament.

10. Paris to the Pyrenees, by David Downie, with photos by Alison Harris

Travel and food writer nonpareil, David Downie, mounts an interior and a physical struggle against middle age and fading health by walking 750 miles across France – the famous Way of St. James. Well, it’s no saunter. Even the companionship of his wife, the wonderful photographer Alison Harris, whose photos here are a revelation, cannot inure him to the hardships of the pilgrimage route. Readers will ponder how much in this volume is deeply spiritual – to my reading, seeking something you cannot define, yet seeking it body and soul, is a spiritual journey. One that is intermitted, David Downie being David Downie, by some of the most gorgeous repasts I’ve heard tell of.


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Simon Says: Daily Food Quote, July 29, 2013

Published by Monday, July 29, 2013 Permalink 0


Simon de Swaan, Simon Says, The Rambling Epicure, Switzerlandby Simón de Swaan

However humble it may be, a meal has a definite plot, the intention of which is to intrigue, stimulate and satisfy.–Margaret Visser


Margaret Visser writes on the history, anthropology, and mythology of everyday life. She lives between Toronto, Paris and Southwest France.

Her most recent book is The Gift of Thanks. “Her previous books, Much Depends on Dinner, The Rituals of Dinner, The Way We Are, and The Geometry of Love, have all been best sellers and have won major international awards, including the Glenfiddich Award for Foodbook of the Year in Britain in 1989, the International Association of Culinary Professionals’ Literary Food Writing Award, and the Jane Grigson Award,” she says on her site.


Simon de Swaan is Food and Beverage Director at the Four Seasons hotel in New York City. He studied at the Culinary Institute of America and has an incredible collection of antique cookbooks and books about food and eating, from which he often posts interesting and unusual quotes. In his column Simon Says, he gives us daily food quotes from his tomes.

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O subjetivo na escrita culinária: revisitando M.F.K. Fisher

Published by Sunday, July 28, 2013 Permalink 0

O subjetivo na escrita culinária: revisitando M.F.K. Fisher         Betina Mariante Cardoso

Betina Mariante Cardoso

Soon to be translated from the Portuguese to the English

Para mim, a leitura da obra de M.F.K. Fisher (Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher) ultrapassa o prazer literário provocado por sua escrita: trata-se de um profundo enriquecimento pessoal. Meu livro favorito desta autora? É difícil escolher, mas atravessar as linhas de The Gastronomical Me foi um fenômeno transformador.

The Gastronomical Me. by MFK Fisher, photo courtesy of http://www.chanticleerbooks.com/shop/chanticleer/20267.html












Em uma tradução ligeira, o título é:  “O Eu Gastronômico”.  Sim,  ligeira,  pois há grande força e  simbolismo nas  fibras  deste título.  Apesar de  Mary Frances  explorar  suas histórias e  perspectivas  subjetivas nos textos,  ao ler com  atenção, percebo que  cada um de  nós, para quem o ato  culinário é  precioso, poderia  ocupar a    identidade deste ‘Eu Gastronômico’, deste “Me”, no idioma inglês. Aliás, qualquer um de nós poderia ocupar esta identidade, pois temas como o ‘comer’ e a ‘fome’, também tratados por ela, respondem ao nosso Humano mais profundo.

Na minha leitura, são textos em que a narradora nos empresta seu lugar, seu ponto de vista, para que possamos experimentar suas vivências, como se estivéssemos em seu papel, em sua ‘primeira pessoa’, nos sabores que descobre. Esta característica dá grande força aos seus  textos, através do uso desta narrativa em primeira pessoa do singular.  Ler-nos em suas sensações, percepções, vicissitudes  é aceitar que a autora  nos conduza em uma viagem para dentro de nossas próprias narrativas. Um passeio autobiográfico, então.  E pergunto: cozinhar não é também uma autobiografia, um ‘contar de si’?


‘Dip’ agridoce de tomates, para aperitivo- receita minha













Bom, há vários focos de encanto, no conjunto desta obra, que, sem aviso, despertam o leitor para a reflexão. Sou pega de surpresa já pelo trecho de abertura:

[Para ser feliz, você deve ter conhecido a dimensão de suas forças, experimentado as frutas de sua paixão e aprendido qual é seu lugar no mundo]- Santayana

(Tradução livre- Betina MC)

Ao folhear este livro, encontro diversos capítulos de mesmo nome, escritos em datas diversas e entremeados com textos  de títulos diferentes.”The Measure of my powers” (‘A dimensão de minhas forças‘), repete-se uma série de vezes, trazendo à tona a menção ao trecho de abertura, de Santayana; a repetição deste título específico, contudo, dá o tom autobiográfico e intimista de “The Gastronomical Me”.  Sinto, ao percorrer as páginas, a profundidade com que a autora conta de suas histórias culinárias, suas descobertas e reflexões. É como se, a cada um dos capítulos que intitula ‘A dimensão de minhas forças’, ela respondesse ao trecho inicial, contando de sua busca pela dita felicidade.  “Para ser feliz, você deve ter conhecido a dimensão de suas forças”, diz o trecho, e Mary Frances trata de retomar esta ‘ordem’, nos capítulos do livro, mantendo a busca como linha condutora de sua escrita subjetiva.


Mercado Público: convite aos sentidos…

Se a tônica me parece estar no ‘ser feliz’, há, nas entrelinhas, uma procura ainda mais profunda: a procura pela sua identidade, por suas ‘forças’ e potenciais, por sua essência, facetas de si que ela traduz por sua relação com o universo do ‘comer’e do ‘fazer culinário’.  Para mim, é neste aspecto  que seu ‘eu‘, primeira pessoa do singular, pluraliza-se  e torna-se ‘nós‘; é neste aspecto que o título do livro, “The Gastronomical Me” (“O ‘Eu’ Gastronômico”) destina-se a um plural de sujeitos que se identificam com as sensações, vivências e sentimentos escritos pela autora. Sujeitos em qualquer parte do mundo. É neste aspecto que ela empresta seu pronome ‘Me’ ao leitor, emprestando, também, seus sentidos para que possamos experimentar, em palavras, os sabores, aromas, texturas, sons, gostos e cores de suas cenas. É possível, ainda, ir além desta compreensão: ao abordar a dimensão de suas forças, ou ao exprimir emoções e memórias no conjunto de textos deste livro, a autora não apenas nos empresta sua fome, mas a partilha conosco, seus leitores. Fome que nós, humanos, sentimos.


Esta é a palavra-chave da famosa introdução desta obra, em que ela responde por que escreve sobre  comida, e não sobre a luta pelo poder, pela segurança, ou sobre o amor ou sobre a guerra. “A resposta mais fácil é dizer que, como a maioria dos Humanos, eu sinto fome“. E acrescenta, com maestria, que, quando escreve sobre fome, na verdade está escrevendo sobre o amor e a fome por este, sobre o afeto e o amor por este e a fome por este…”Conto sobre mim mesma (…), e acontece, sem que eu queira, que estou contando também sobre aqueles que estão comigo, e sobre sua necessidade mais profunda pelo amor e pela felicidade.”


Cocada: doce brasileiro de coco, tradicional e saboroso

Sendo o alimento parte essencial da vida de todos nós, bem como as emoções e percepções através dos sentidos, cada indivíduo está presente no texto desta autora; suas experiências coincidem com as nossas próprias lembranças.  Temos em comum a humanidade e, como ela refere, a ‘fome’. Por instantes, nos sentimos personagens de sua autoria; noutras vezes, nos sentimos o ‘Eu Gastronômico’ que escreve as histórias. As fomes são as mesmas.

E, então, a  beleza do último parágrafo deste prefácio está na partilha de sua emoção, com o leitor: “Há uma comunhão para além dos nossos corpos, quando o pão é partido e o vinho é bebido. E esta é minha resposta, quando as pessoas me perguntam: ‘por que você escreve sobre fome, e não sobre guerras ou amor?‘”


Partilha do meu pão de salame e funcho, no primeiro dia de 2013…

Seja ao ver sua avó fazendo geléias, seja ao partilhar uma refeição com sua irmã e seu pai, seja ao olhar com atenção um cardápio e escolher seu desejo, pela primeira vez: em cada história contada, há algo de nós. Porque, se as emoções são tão diversas em nossa subjetividade, há um ponto em comum em nós, humanos, e que nos torna co-autores destes textos: comemos, sentimos o sabor (ou a falta dele), temos fome, preparamos o alimento, sentimos prazer(aceso ou apagado)…Em qualquer tempo e geografia, comida e emoção nos despertam ou adormecem, nos satisfazem ou nos incompletam, nos nutrem ou nos destroem; seja como for, comida e emoção respondem à nossa necessidade primordial, a fome. Esta, de que Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher fala com tanta profundidade.

É de cada um de nós que a autora conta, quando escreve um texto que intitula: ‘A dimensão de minhas forças’. Você pode não desejar cozinhar, nem desejar escrever sobre a comida ou sobre o ato culinário; entretanto, a leitura desta obra é um passo firme, e prazeroso, na trajetória do comer consciente. E, com certeza, também na trajetória da conscientização de nossa fome pelo amor, pelo afeto, pela segurança, pela felicidade.

bolinhos para o dia dos namorados

Bolo para celebrar o amor!













Minha leitura? A busca é, no fim das contas, pela ‘dimensão de nossas forças‘ e pelo saciar de nossas fomes, quanto mais buscamos conhecer a nós mesmos. Lendo ou cozinhando, descobrimos trechos de nosso subjetivo, experimentamos nossos sentidos e sentimentos. Somos nós, ali, refletidos em temperos ou em palavras. Basta nossa fome pela descoberta.

Obrigada pela visita!

Com afeto,

Betina MC.


Sobre mim, Betina Mariante Cardoso

Sou Betina Mariante Cardoso, brasileira, trinta e poucos anos. Nasci e moro  em Porto Alegre, no Sul do Brasil, cidade que amo de coração e onde  vivencio o apego, o calor da família e a constância, virtudes necessárias na  minha vida. Paradoxo, tenho encantos por viajar, romper a linearidade  rotineira, esquecer o mapa no hotel e perder-me pelas ruas dos lugares que  visito. Por quê? Para ter a chance de conhecer aquela confeitaria antiga na  rua lateral, coisa que só o acaso permite.  Tenho uma ligação forte com o conforto do cotidiano mas, quando me torno viajante, parto em busca das descobertas, do desconhecido. É quando  me entrego à Serendipity que as viagens propiciam. E é com este mesmo estado anímico que venho para a cozinha: trazendo comigo a aventura, a curiosidade, o ímpeto pelo novo. Gosto de criar minhas receitas, mas sou também fã dos cadernos culinários, escritos à mão e com manchas de vida em suas páginas. Outro paradoxo. 

Agradam-me os livros, as revistas, os blogs de forno-e-fogão. E tenho verdadeiro encanto pelas ‘Histórias do como-se-faz’, as narrativas orais que transmitem o conhecimento empírico, prático e caseiro, de geração a geração. Escutar uma história de cozinha é, para mim, uma riqueza única, porque faz parte de uma conversa, de uma partilha entre as pessoas. Sou médica psiquiatra e psicoterapeuta, profissão que exerço com amor e dedicação, e que dispara meu olhar para o subjetivo de nossas entrelinhas. Minha segunda atividade profissional é como proprietária de uma pequena editora, a Casa Editorial Luminara, ligação entre  trabalho e espaço de liberdade.

No tempo livre, meu hobby principal é a culinária, desde a infância. Hoje, com a descoberta da ‘food writing‘, realizar a escrita culinária é, para mim, uma prática tão lúdica quanto cozinhar. Realizo algo que chamo de ‘cozinha perceptiva’. Nesta, escrita e a fotografia são ferramentas, pois ampliam a percepção e a descrição dos detalhes do ato culinário, ampliando também a exploração sensorial e a atenção ao presente, com benefícios para o autoconhecimento. Escrever, curiosar, ler, fazer colagens, blogar, viajar e  fotografar são também experiências prazerosas para mim, com altas doses de felicidade.

Espero você nos próximos textos!

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The Kitchen at the Center of History: An Interview with Rachel Laudan

Published by Tuesday, July 23, 2013 Permalink 0


Rachel Lauden, author of Cusine & Empire

Rachel Laudan, author of Cuisine & Empire

by Elatia Harris

All photos courtesy of Rachel Laudan

Rachel Laudan is the prize-winning author of The Food of Paradise: Exploring Hawaii’s Culinary Heritage and a co-editor of the Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. In this wide-ranging interview, Rachel and I talk about her long-awaited book, Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History. Paul Freedman remarks that  the book is a riveting and unique combination of culinary ideas and exposition on the materiality of eating.” Other delighted early readers include Anne Willan, Naomi Duguid and Dan Headrick. As a food lover, a cook, a world traveler or a student of cultural history, you might have asked yourself: What is this thing called food? If so, this is the book for you. 


ELATIA HARRIS: To begin, I would love to know what was involved in the transition from historian of science to historian of food. I can remember when there was no such academic discipline as food history, and I’ll warrant so can many readers.

RACHEL LAUDAN: I can remember when there was no such discipline as science history! I think history is the thread through my life. Growing up in history-heavy Wiltshire, I felt I had to escape the weight of the past. I studied the key historical science, geology, at university, although this was almost unheard of for a woman. I then changed to history and philosophy of science and technology. Then to history of food. History is my way of understanding things.

A lot of food writing is about how we feel about food, particularly about the good feelings that food induces. I’m more interested in how we think about food. In fact, I put culinary philosophy at the center of my book. Our culinary philosophy is the bridge between food and culture, between what we eat and how we relate to the natural world, including our bodies, to the social world, and to the gods or morality.

EH: Your earlier book, The Food of Paradise, necessarily dealt with food politics and food history. So many cultures were blended into local food in Hawaii. I treasure that book — almost a miniature of what you’re doing in Cuisine and Empire.

RL: Well, thank you. It came as a surprise to me that I had a subject for a book-length treatment of something to do with food or cooking — as interested in the subject as I certainly was. The only genre I knew was the cookbook, and I am not cut out to write recipes.  

It was prompted by a move to teach at the University of Hawaii in the mid-1980s. I went reluctantly, convinced by the tourist propaganda that the resources of the islands consisted of little more than sandy beaches and grass-skirted dancers doing the hula.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. These tiny islands, the most remote inhabited land on earth, have extraordinarily various peoples and environments. And as to the food, I was humiliatingly lost. The first morning in the office, Barbara Hoshida, the department secretary, held out a plate of golf-ball sized fried, well, fried whats? “These are Okinawan andagi,” she explained, “They’re just like Portuguese malasadas.”  I didn’t dare ask what Portuguese malasadas were. 

Before I knew it I had a stack of essays on the foods of the three diasporas that had ended up in the islands: the taro-based cuisine of the peoples from the South Pacific (the Hawaiians); the rice-based cuisine of the Asians (Koreans, Han and Hakka Chinese, Japanese, Okinawans, and Ilocanos and Tagalogs from the Philippines); and the bread-based cuisine of the Anglos (British and Americans).

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Paris to the Pyrenees: David Downie Eats His Way Down the Way of St. James, Interview by Elatia Harris

Published by Monday, April 22, 2013 Permalink 0


Left: Cross with Rocks, copyright Alison Harris.
Right: Forest Cathedral, copyright Alison Harris


Interview by Elatia Harris

Their 50th birthdays in sight, the acclaimed travel and food writer David Downie, and his wife, the photographer Alison Harris, decided that trekking from Paris to Spain, would be just the thing. They are based in Paris, so the Way of St. James, for a millennium one of the world’s most celebrated pilgrimage routes, was right at their back door. Neither Alison nor David is religious — the classical pilgrimage experience was not what they were seeking. What were they seeking? Renewal, changed perspectives. Perhaps to test themselves, over 72 days and 1100 km of — at times — very rough terrain. And thereby hangs a tale.

Paris to the Pyrenees: A Skeptic Pilgrim Walks the Way of St. Jameslaunches this week. Scroll to the end to see book tour information. Permission to post on TRE the superb photos from the book was granted by Alison Harris.


ELATIA HARRIS: There has been a lot in the news lately on pilgrimage, however one understands the phenomenon. People who do it talk about needing to lose their routine and find themselves. Most set out alone, meeting others en route. You and Alison started together.

DAVID DOWNIE: Our choice to walk together happened organically. I had planned to do this on my own. Alison came along to keep me out of trouble. If you ask her, she’s likely to say it was her idea about 25 years ago, when she suggested we do something similar.

EH: Readers cannot but wonder how they would hold up, in these circumstances. I pictured a long leisurely walk through a French countryside movie. Cows, chateaux…oh, perhaps a few mildly strenuous stints.  I was so wrong. This was a test of all your combined resources. It would be for any couple. 72 days of togetherness and real physical hardship. And you had already spent years collaborating on your books.

DD: Like some old couples, we have merged in mind and spirit — if such a thing exists — while remaining very different people, and very pig-headedly independent. So, while we were together on the pilgrimage, we were often apart both in our mental spheres and physically. Alison stopped constantly, ran ahead, took detours, disappeared, got lost—often, though not always, in pursuit of a photograph. She probably walked twice as many miles as I did. By the end of the pilgrimage, my regard for her had only deepened. I can’t speak for her, of course.

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Our favorite food books of 2011

Published by Friday, December 23, 2011 Permalink 0

by Jonell Galloway


Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, by Maria Speck

My favorite cookbook of the year. Maria Speck knows how to incorporate ancient whole grains from around the world into dishes that remain rustic on the edges, but healthy, original and elegant at the same time. The technical explanations about ancient grains are excellent, as well as her explanations about general cooking techniques. The food stories she incorporates here and there about growing up in Greece and Germany add a touch of charm.

A must for any health-conscious real food lover who wants to eat interesting food combinations and dishes with a touch more sophistication that can pleasantly surprise guests, but not take them totally away from their references, because the dishes are for the most part influenced by Mediterranean cuisine.

For poetry-loving foodies:

The Poet’s Cookbook: Recipes from Germany, poems by 33 American poets with German translations

The Poet’s Cookbook: Recipes from Tuscany, poems by 28 Italian and American poets

I love the original concept of these books, pairing a food poem with a recipe. A poem by our Food Poetry Editor, Christina Daub, “Wine“, appears in the Tuscany version.

Farming: A Hand Book, by Wendell Berry

As a Kentuckian, Wendell Berry has forever been my mentor. He is, in my mind, the precursor of the Slow Food philosophy in the U.S., through the philosophy he has cultivated and spread for over 50 years now, well before Petrini and company started the Slow Food movement. Whether writing prose or poetry, he is always eloquent, and the same message of integrity, respect for others and for the land is the central message. This is one more inspiring book of poetry to add to our shelves of books to keep forever, that will comfort us in times of trouble, that we will pick up time and time again when we’re losing faith in humanity, devastated by the disrespect shown to the land, losing touch with our roots. Berry always says what he thinks in all his eloquence and with true gentillesse, but more than that, he lives the life he preaches, and that is consoling.

For food lovers, wine lovers, and culinary travelers:

Food Wine Rome, by David Downie and Alison Harris, published by The Little Bookroom, part of The Terroir Guides series

Food Wine Burgundy, by David Downie and Alison Harris, published by The Little Bookroom, part of The Terroir Guides series

Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light, by David Downie

David Downie writes wonderful articles for The Rambling Epicure and Alison does exquisite food photo exhibits for our Food Art section. I can never get enough of their work, because the writing is exquisite and full of literary and historical references, and the photos are truly art. Downie always shows you the insider’s view of whatever he writes about, and Alison has a great eye for catching the very essence of what they’re covering, whether it be truffle hunting or discovering little out-of-the way restaurants in isolated villages. You can never go wrong with their books.

For bread lovers:

Dictionnaire Universel du Pain, by Jean-Philippe de Tonnac

Jean-Philippe de Tonnac also writes for The Rambling Epicure, and has recently become THE bread writer all bakers want to meet. This book should in my mind be translated into English immediately. It offers a wealth of information about bread from time immemorial, covering techniques and breads from around the world, as well as spirituality, sex, gluten intolerance, bakers as poets, bakers as prophets and much more. “Encyclopedia” would be a more appropriate term than “dictionary”.

Mindful eating:

The Self-Compassion Diet: Guided Practices to Lose Weight with Loving-Kindness by Jean Fain

Jean Fain has tried every diet out there, so she can speak with authority about the subject of weight loss. She is also affiliated with Harvard Medical School as a psychotherapist, so she has the credentials to talk about the subject. Her book takes a totally different approach to weight loss than any I’ve seen. She doesn’t count calories and restrict what you eat. Her approach is instead through the mind, to become mindful of what we eat, when we eat (when stressed or lonely, for example), why we eat (out of need to nourish ourselves or out of boredom or frustration); to appreciate what we eat, and above all to be conscious of our entire relationship with food.

The book teaches you how to take control of yourself and your relationship to food so that you can change the way you think about food in general, so that eating becomes a totally different experience. Jean does this through loving-kindness, self-hypnosis, meditation and numerous other weight-loss approaches, which you follow gradually, not all in one go. She also offers a CD including guided meditations to help patients after they have stopped therapy.

Her main thrust is self-love, that we must not be too hard on ourselves, or we’ll fall back in to our old and bad habits quickly. The beauty of the book and CD combination is that you can live half way around the planet and still follow her method.

For lovers of literature: food essays and prose:

Slow Food: Collected Thoughts on Taste, Tradition, and the Honest Pleasures of Food, by Carlo Petrini and Ben Watson

This book consists of an anthology of articles by the world’s top food writers, making me remember the old days when we’d visit the family in the countryside and how I thought it odd that they grew all their vegetables themselves and knew how to can them; how they drank milk straight from the cow (one of my fondest childhood memories), and how we relished in those meals, how it built bonds between us. “Drawn from five years of the quarterly journal Slow (only recently available in America), this book includes more than 100 articles covering eclectic topics from “Falafel” to “Fat City.” From the market at Ulan Bator in Mongolia to Slow Food Down Under, this book offers an armchair tour of the exotic and bizarre. You’ll pass through Vietnam’s Snake Tavern, enjoy the Post-Industrial Pint of Beer, and learn why the lascivious villain in Indian cinema always eats Tandoori Chicken.”

For pastry makers and lovers:

Mich Turner’s  Masterclass: The Ultimate Guide to Cake Decorating Perfection, by Mich Turner, published by Jacqui Small LLP, London

Mitch Turner’s cake decorating book is worthy of a fine art book in its presentation, and of an encyclopedia in terms of the detailed explanations about cake decorating. Her pastry and cakes are truly works of art. A must for all pastry makers, whether professional or amateur.

Food art:

From Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography, by Hélène Dujardin

This book is special for many reasons. There are lots of people out there trying to learn food photography without a clue as to even the basic techniques required and no possibility of taking a food photography workshop. This is the book for them, because all the basics plus quite a lot more are explained in a clear, direct manner. It also verges on being an art book, because it is illustrated by Dujardin’s beautiful food photography.




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David Downie, the Accidental Parisian: New Interview by American Library in Paris

Published by Tuesday, November 15, 2011 Permalink 0

David Downie, our France and Italy correspondent, has just been interviewed by the American Library in Paris in one of the best interviews I’ve seen to date. “I’m an accidental Parisian: my early encounters with Paris in the 1970s left me wondering what all the commotion was about. Pompidou was playing Napoleon III—or Baron Haussmann—and the city seemed like one endless worksite, an experiment in brutalism, populated by people Sophia Loren once described as “Italians in a bad mood.” Click here to read on.

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News from David Downie: Paris, Paris on 3QD and The Little Book That Could

Published by Monday, August 8, 2011 Permalink 0

by David Downie

Writer-chef-explorer extraordinaire Elatia Harris — no relation to my wife Alison Harris — interviewed me for a great website I did not formerly know, the 3 Quarks Daily.

It’s always jarring to be on the other side of the mike — or keyboard. I’ve conducted hundreds of interviews over the last 20-odd years. I’ve given a few, too. Of them, this is outstandingly good (not because I’m such a fascinating person, but because Elatia is such a good interviewer and writer).

Here’s the opening paragraph:

In 1986, San Francisco-born David Downie, a scholar and multilingual translator, moved to Paris, into a real garret — a maid’s room, in fact — to write himself into another way of life. Fresh from Milan, his marriage to a Milanese finished, he was still young enough for years more of getting it right. A quarter century later, his authority on matters Parisian is acknowledged by Jan Morris, Diane Johnson, and Mavis Gallant, to name only a few illustrious admirers.

Happily the interview is also about Alison and includes many fine photos from Rome, Paris and elsewhere.

Photos such as this one:

Much to my surprise and delight, The New Yorker picked up the interview. The power of new media is startling.

Speaking of which, Paris, Paris is a surprise bestseller. It was released on April 5 and in under four months has gone through four print runs… This is astonishing, given the publicity budget (budget? what budget?) and the not-dumbed-down nature of the book.

Thanks to all of you for buying so many copies, and telling your friends! Merci mille fois…

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The art of making the most out of what is left over (in other words, what is still edible in our day and time)

Published by Tuesday, July 12, 2011 Permalink 0

Dictionnaire Universel du Painby Jean-Philippe de Tonnac, translated by Flo Makanai and Jonell Galloway

Click here to read this article in French

Review of Flo Makanai’s Les intolerances alimentaires: Cuisiner gourmand autrement (meaning literally, Food Intolerances: Epicurean Cooking with a Difference), published in French. Even though the book has not yet been published in English, we consider the information in this review helpful to an English-speaking audience.

When interviewed by Flo Makani, Nicolas Zamaria, with a Ph.D. in nutrition and director of a medical biology laboratory made a highly cogent point: “During the course of a life, 30 tons of food go through an individual’s digestive tube.” Imagine that before the era of synthetic pesticides that began in the 1930s (the word pesticide includes fungicides as well as weed and parasite killers], if there was to find a “Maginot” date, indicating an “after” and therefore a “before”, all of what that individual ingested, in other words, those 30 tons of food people ate before the 1930s, was organic. Yes, organic, without making any big deal about it! This was simply because farmers were not yet able to “rectify” nature’s big homeostatic equilibriums and therefore to endanger them. Today, rightfully, we are entitled — and in desperate need — to ask ourselves how that same digestive tube will treat the truly problematic situation, from a nutritional point of view, of the 30 tons of food it takes in these days. Because, of course, apart from the organic-labeled products (in France, 2.5% of the total cultivated area was devoted to organic farming in 2009), nothing else is organic anymore.

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Le grand art d’accommoder les restes (ce qu’on peut encore manger)

Published by Friday, July 1, 2011 Permalink 0

de Jean-Philippe de Tonnac

English adaptation in progress : The art of using up leftovers (or what can still be eaten)

La mise au point est faite par Nicolas Zamaria, directeur de laboratoire de biologie médicale, docteur ès nutrition, interrogé par Flo Makanai : « Au cours d’une vie, 30 tonnes d’aliments traversent le tube digestif d’un individu. » Imaginez vous qu’avant l’ère des pesticides de synthèse qui débute dans les années 1930 [le mot pesticide incluant insecticides, fongicides, herbicides et parasiticides], s’il fallait trouver une date Maginot désignant un « après » et donc un « avant », tout ce que cet individu ingérait, autrement dit ces 30 tonnes d’aliments, était bio. BIO ! Vous imaginez ! Tout simplement parce que l’homme cultivateur ne disposait pas encore des moyens de « rectifier » les grands équilibres homéostasiques de la nature ou, de les abîmer. Nous sommes légitimement en droit et devoir de nous interroger aujourd’hui sur la manière dont ce même tube digestif va traiter les 30 tonnes d’aliments tout à fait problématiques sur le plan nutritionnel qui lui seront proposés. Car, bien entendu, en dehors des produits étiquetés « bio » (2,5% de la surface agricole utile en France était consacrée en 2009 à l’agriculture biologique), plus rien n’est bio.

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