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2 may 2016

"We are still unsure about what is or is not healthy," says Michelle Phillipov in her global history of culinary fats (66). Every few years, fears of a demon fat arise in the popular imagination, sending Americans veering from butter to margarine and back again, avoiding fats for carbs and carbs for fats and both for proteins. Meanwhile it seems that no matter what we eat, people develop more and more heart disease (yet thanks to medical advances, survive that heart disease longer and in better shape). Phillipov notes a growing cynicism about official nutritional advice: is everything we hear about what we should eat just a sponsored announcement from one oily lobby or another?     read more

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