home     authors     titles     dates     links     about     "Read at whim!" – Randall Jarrell

29 april 2016

Rachel Poliquin's Breathless Zoo is the second great book about taxidermy that I've read in recent years, following Dave Madden's Authentic Animal. I'm not going to choose up. They're very different books, and though they cover some of the same territory, they take complementary perspectives. I loved both and I want to read others that extend their insights further.     read more

27 april 2016

Martha Jay notices something in her lively and lucid global history of onions and garlic that has always bugged me. Recipes and cooking advice often (at least in Britain and America) recommend some way to mitigate the flavor of onions, garlic, and their allium allies. But why would you want to do this? If you think that onions and garlic are nasty, there is a very easy solution: don't cook with them. If you like them, bombs away. American recipes in particular are so squeamish about garlic that it's usually good practice to throw in half again as much as called for.     read more

26 april 2016

Accabadora is an offbeat coming-of-age novel. The copy I bought on the Internet includes a note that the original owner read it on a flight from Milan to London and found it "belissimo e un po' triste" (beautiful and a bit sad). I read it on flights between DFW and Columbus, Ohio and my response would be a little more muted in terms of range of emotions, but just as impressed with the book's quality.     read more

25 april 2016

Sylvia Lovegren begins her global history of melons with anecdotes about melons she's eaten, melons that seemed to her ambrosial, insipid, or horrific. I don't know if I've ever had a truly ambrosial melon, and I haven't had many horrific melon experiences. Most of the melon I eat these days comes on pre-fab fruit trays that my university provides via its food service, trays that aim at the lowest common culinary denominator. Melons are kosher and halal; they lack meat and gluten, fat and alcohol and caffeine and allergens – and most often, when employed as the fruit of last resort, they lack all flavor. I'm hyposmic to begin with, and half the time all I perceive of a chunk of melon is some liquid, a yielding texture, and a faint sweetness.     read more