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Upon flipping through the new issue of "The New Yorker" this week, an ad caught my eye--especially since it took up 2/3 of a page. It was for the new book "Julie & Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen" by Julie Powell. For those of you unfamiliar with this, the book is the result of a project started a couple of years ago by Julie Powell whereby she set out to cook all the recipes in Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1" in a year and described her efforts on a blog. She attracted quite a number of readers, particularly after The New York Times published a story about her, and eventually landed a book publishing contract.

I've just ordered a copy from Amazon and look forward (with relish?) to reading it. I was able to buy "Mastering" for $2 for both volumes several years ago at a yard sale and used them mostly as reference books. However, I learned quite a bit reading Powell's blog and have used them more often since then.

Have any of you read her blog? Or her book? I'm interested in your comments about them both.

BTW, you can find her blog by searching for "The Julie/Julia Project." You will have to back up to the beginning to find the start of it. Be prepared to spend an awful lot of time reading this thing. I found it rather addictive.

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Recent food related readings have included --

"Noble Rot" - mainly about the recent turmoil at Ch d'Yquem. Enjoyed it greatly

"The Art of Eating" - MFK Fisher's collected works. Amazing. Anyone even remotely interested in food must read these.

And like most of you (or at least I'm guessing), I actually read cookbooks.

I just received my copy of the new edition of Paula Wolfert's "The Cooking of Southwest France" All I have to say is :lol:

Anybody have Shaw's or Psaltis' book on their list?

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I'm about 2/3 through "The Last Days of Haute Cuisine" by Patric Kuh.

It has been very interesting so far... started with Soule's Le Pavillon, moved on to Beard, the RA restaurants & Child, then jumped to the other coast with Waters & Towers and I am currently reading about Puck & his pizzas.

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I often find myself sitting and reading Culinary Artistry. It is one of the best food reference books I have ever read. Whenever I travel somewhere that I know is going to require me to cook, but I do not know what the ingredients are going to be, this book travels with me. It provides a great deal of inspiration.

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Recent food related readings have included --

"Noble Rot" - mainly about the recent turmoil at Ch d'Yquem. Enjoyed it greatly

"The Art of Eating" - MFK Fisher's collected works. Amazing. Anyone even remotely interested in food must read these.

Ruth Reichl edited a compilation of Fisher's writing, in more or less chronological order, a few years ago entitled "The Measure of Her Powers." If you can only read one MFK Fisher book, then this is the one to get. I think all of us on this site can appreciate the approach to food that she and some others have. They inspire even the non-creative cooks, like me. :lol:

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Maybe it's because I grew up with food writing from "women's" magazines which specialized in the "men will really love this" type of writing, that when I first read Fisher I was blown away by the simple sensuousness with which she approached food (and other things). I also realized that she was writing at a time when this was NEW. Maybe this is a generational thing . . . I came of age when the stultifying cloak of the Suburban "Housewife" ideal was being thrown off with a kind of violence and NOBODY I knew had ever read anything by her. Not that the debate has ended. Far from it; but at least there is a realization that not every woman has the opportunity to choose to stay at home or not. This may explain why I am in the anti-Martha Stewart camp. I just can't bring myself to forgive her seeming obliviousness when it comes to the sheer time-consuming labor (not to mention cost) of her projects. Of course there is the camp that will say I am missing the whole point of Martha. OK, whatever.

Then along came Julia. Bless her heart and may she and Paul rest in peace. When I think of where "home cooking" in America was headed, before she came on the scene, I shudder. She changed everything. Just imagine if there would even be a Food Network or a website like this one without her. I'm just sayin".

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"The Art of Eating" - MFK Fisher's collected works. Amazing. Anyone even remotely interested in food must read these.

I first became aware of MFK Fisher in the early 1970's, when I was living in rural Vermont, and was a dedicated listener of the Amherst, MA NPR station. There was a daily program where a very good voice artist read a chapter a day of a chosen book, usually a novel, but not always. When he read Fisher's memoir *With Bold Knife and Fork* I was totally captivated, and I set out to find more of her work. I now own every book she ever wrote. She is not a really a "food writer," in the current sense of the term: she is more a diarist, like Anais Nin was. I have to say that in Fisher's work, food is a place to begin her exploration of self, the sensual life of the body, the world in her time, of family, friendship, love, ideas, personal history. Her prose is graceful, elegant, intelligent. I can see how her work might be disappointing to someone who wants to read about food, in the same way that someone looking for writing about sex will be bored by all but the first few books by Henry Miller. Because the life's work of both MFK Fisher and Henry Miller was really about the meaning of being human.

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Bourdain's stuff I find amusing.

I have really enjoyed Michael Ruhlman's work.

Ruhlman's work is wonderful and I have his other non-food books on my list to read. Pierre Franey's A Chef's Tale : A Memoir of Food, France and America is fun read too.

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I can see how her work might be disappointing to someone who wants to read about food, in the same way that someone looking for writing about sex will be bored by all but the first few books by Henry Miller. Because the life's work of both MFK Fisher and Henry Miller was really about the meaning of being human.

I would have to agree, although I would rather pull out my own fingernails than read Henry Miller ever again.

The late Laurie Colwin is another of my favorites. She wrote for Gourmet for several years before an untimely death in the early 90's. Home Cooking and More Home Cooking are collections of her food essays. She also wrote novels but I've yet to get around to reading one.

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I've been reading and making dishes lately from Chris Sleschingers "Let the flames begin" Chris is the Chef owner of East Coast Grill in Boston which is one of the most popular restaurants in the city. He is a master behind the grill and his recipies are fun to cook and center around live fire and the enhancement of flavors through grilling.. great book

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I would have to agree, although I would rather pull out my own fingernails than read Henry Miller ever again.

The late Laurie Colwin is another of my favorites.  She wrote for Gourmet for several years before an untimely death in the early 90's.  Home Cooking and More Home Cooking are collections of her food essays.  She also wrote novels but I've yet to get around to reading one.

Did you ever read Miller's *Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch*? That's one of my favorites. And as it happens, the woman he was married to at the time, who is central to the book, was later my ninth grade algebra teacher at John Burroughs Junior High in L.A.

I completely agree about Laurie Colwin. I love the two books you mentioned. What a loss.

I'm also very partial to Raymond Sokolov's work, and of course the "Outlaw Cook" - John Thorne.

Edited by zoramargolis
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I recently read The Perfectionist, about Chef Bernard Loiseau, who committed suicide a couple years ago.  Very interesting and well written, especially the digressions about food critics and the Michelin guide.

Before reading this, you might enjoy reading "Burgundy Stars" by William Echikson. It covers a year in Loiseau's life as he strives for his third star. The book gives a good look at what goes on behind the scenes in a Michelin-starred operation, as well as insight into Loiseau's personality and that of the people on his staff.

It made for a good read and I was very sad to read of his suicide. To get a perspective on the man and his, some might say, mania for a third star, check this book out.

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Well, "Julie & Julia" arrived Saturday afternoon and all the rain (Yes!) gave me an excuse to sit down and start reading. I finished it late last night with tears streaming down my face.

The Washington Post will have a review of this on Wednesday, so I wanted to get my $0.02 in before reading what some stranger has to say. I have also avoided reading the review in the NYT.

The book opens, unfortunately for you gentlemen, with a trip to the gynecologist. You can choose to be put off by this if you want to, I suppose, but the "ick" factor is kept to a minimum. I recommend plowing on because an awful lot of this book is simply hilarious. I mean, the whole idea of this project was ludicrous on its face and Powell just runs with it; you want self-deprecating, potty-mouthed snarkiness? It's all here in abundance.

My thorough enjoyment of this entire book has a great deal to do with the fact that I am a fellow card-carrying member of the "Cult of Julia" and Julie Powell speaks directly to me. The fact that I am old enough to be her mother is completely irrelevant. (I was astonished to learn how much money she made donating her eggs for IVF treatments; by the time this procedure was introduced, my ova were passed their sell-by date, alas.) I share her fascination with Childs' whole life and marriage. Powell read the correspondence of both Paul and Julia, and "Appetite for Life" by Noel Riley Fitch, and imagined some scenarios in their lives--something for which she may be criticized. I, however, have made the same sort of speculations about the Childs and so could appreciate Powell's own musings on that subject.

This book is by no means a re-hash of her blog. Au contraire. I think it probably helps to have read her blog, but isn't really necessary (except she doesn't mention the name of the "Government Agency" she worked for during all this. Her blog readers, or "bleaders" as she calls them, know, though, that she worked for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation). Sounds like a swell job, no? Except she was a temporary Secretary and boy! have I been down that particular road.

No matter how accomplished a home cook you may be, you will undoubtedly learn a thing or two. There are a LOT of recipes in "Mastering" and I doubt any of us have made even a small fraction of them. So, her comments about some of the more obscure things have added to my (future) repertoire.

WARNING: Powell makes her politics quite clear and takes every opportunity to disparage Republicans. I mean, she takes EVERY opportunity. You have been warned.

Otherwise, read and enjoy.

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It was probably inevitable.  HBO is planning a half-hour "romantic comedy" based on Reichl's books, according to a Variety article earlier this week.  So, will more than just the laughter be "canned"?

Good God! Is NOTHING sacred? I notice from the link that they are going with the LEAST interesting volume of her memoirs. I'm glad I don't have cable. :)
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It was probably inevitable.  HBO is planning a half-hour "romantic comedy" based on Reichl's books, according to a Variety article earlier this week.  So, will more than just the laughter be "canned"?

What are the odds that any of the following actresses or "actresses" will play her:

Sarah Jessica Parker

Teri Hatcher

Julia Louis Dreyfus

Jessica Simpson

Jennifer Garner

:)

Maybe they'll find a way to take the Kitchen Confidential series and blend it together with the Reichl one? A Cook's Tender At The Bone?

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["Everyone knows food is the new sex," cracked Reichl]

Great minds do think alike. Actually what I said was "food is what sex used to be"...

A couple of weeks ago, Ruth Reichl was doing an online forum on e-gullet. A woman wrote that she didn't use her Gourmet Cookbook, because the pale yellow ink used for the recipe headings was too difficult for her middle-aged eyes to read. Ruth responded that the woman should send her name and address and she would send her a Third Edition, which has darker ink.

That was always my complaint about the book--clearly it was a major error. The content is great, but the pale yellow ink in my copy makes it a major pain to use.

So I PM'd Ruth Reichl, and basically said "Me too?" And also mentioned that I had been a fan of hers during her entire ten year tenure at the LA Times--a little shameless flattery never hurts, especially when it is true. The restaurant critic before her, Lois Dwan, was a very uninspired writer. Ruth was a total infusion of life into the Food Section of the LA Times.

In any case, three days later, a Fedex delivery man brought me a copy of the Gourmet Cookbook, Third Edition, signed to me from Ruth Reichl. I thought that was an incredibly classy thing to do.

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I've just finished reading "Toast" by Nigel Slater. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read; a memoir told through foods and their associated memories/experiences.

Each (or almost every) section title is named for a food. Some of it is funny, some heartbreaking. I most appreciated how it details his discovery of food and cooking from a young age up to young adulthood, and the solace, as well as new worlds, that he eventually found in the kitchen.

It also gave me a new appreciation for marshmallows - I won't give anything away, but let's just say that piece moved me to tears.

Also, a handy glossary is included for us Yanks who aren't familiar with all the English foods/brands that he describes. (although I have my own personal 'English dictionary' in my +1 and it was kind of fun seeing his reaction to my questions about what certain things were....'Oooh, they're lovely', etc. :) )

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I didn't receive any foodie books for Christmas, but I gave two. My dad had recently related an amusing Bourdain-related anecdote (something about massage, and "torture," and insulting Rachael Ray), so I bought him Kitchen Confidential and the Les Halles cookbook.

He isn't a reader... and he finished KC in roughly 36 hours. I was pretty impressed.

The Les Halles cookbook I took the liberty of reading through -- lots of Bourdain humor in there among the recipes, with decent pictures and just about the right amount of detail in the recipes. If you don't know how to make cassoulet, or moules frites, or any of 50-ish other standard bistro recipes, this will really help you out.

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Ohboyohboyohboy! I got a big, juicy stack of food books for Christmas:

The Silver Spoon: the "Joy of Cooking" of Italy, just translated/adapted. FABULOUS!

Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn

The French Laundry Cookbook

The Cooking of Southwest France by Paula Wolfert, newly updated version

Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl--her interview with Diane Rehm was re-broadcast the other day and was great-- a warm, funny, down-to-earth, smart Jewish woman who knows from food...

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I'm about halfway through Mrs. B's copy of "The Perfectionist." I read "Garlic and Sapphires" when it first came out. Since several of us have these to read, or have already read them, I wonder if we should do the Book Club thing and schedule a time to have a discussion of them on this thread. Some people need deadlines to get crackin'. NowhutImeen?

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Since several of us have these to read, or have already read them, I wonder if we should do the Book Club thing

Perfect timing. I was wondering what to use my Borders coupon for next week. I definitely need a push to read stuff that that has a plot, but no graphs.
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I'm about halfway through Mrs. B's copy of "The Perfectionist."  I read "Garlic and Sapphires" when it first came out.  Since several of us have these to read, or have already read them, I wonder if we should do the Book Club thing and schedule a time to have a discussion of them on this thread.  Some people need deadlines to get crackin'. NowhutImeen?

Why not meet somewhere and discuss over a couple of bottles of wine and some eats?

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However, trying to get everybody together at one time, at one place, is like herding cats. :)

You are never going to get everyone to any one place every time. We can just set a date (how about the first or second weekend in Feb), choose the book, and select the venue. Those that are interested/available can show up.

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Plowed through Garlic and Sapphires. Not a great work of literature, but a thoroughly enjoyable read. Take it to the beach next summer.

The Perfectionist presents a lot of interesting information, but so far I find the narrative to be very choppy. It reads like the Copy Editor used to work for the Economist -- the writing can be very dense.

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I was a little disappointed in Garlic and Sapphires, but not really sure why. Maybe I expected it to be more about food than Ms. Reichl. Haven't read The Perfectionist yet, that may have to wait until I get Barbara's copy of Julie Powell's book from Mrs. B.

I love to get together and talk about some of these, and I might be willing to host. Potluck, anyone?

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I was a little disappointed in Garlic and Sapphires, but not really sure why.  Maybe I expected it to be more about food than Ms. Reichl. 

I, too, was disappointed by the book, and not just a little. I suppose I was looking forward to a hard look at the ins and outs of being the restaurant critic for the Times, but instead half of the book is her playing dress-up. Not content to merely don a disguise for her work, Reichl felt the need to actually inhabit other personas, and the process she undergoes to reach this end is meticulously detailed (and predictably boring): a faux-British geriatic acting coach, endless trips to the wig shop, hours in the makeup chair -- all recounted in implausible dialogue. (I would give an example here but my copy is busy evening out the legs of our coffee table.) When she becomes her dead mother, it gets downright creepy. Such excess is not necessary to be a good critic, and judging from this book, appears to have been a useless distraction.

On top of this, her experiences at each restaurant are recalled with little more detail than exists in the original reviews that appeared in the paper. Since these reviews are helpfully reprinted in full at the end of each chapter, redunandcy is rampant. I couldn't wait for it to end. Garlic and Sapphires is not a book about being the restaurant critic for the New York Times. It is a book about a woman dealing with mild schizophrenia who also happens to be the restaurant critic for the New York Times.

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The Perfectionist presents a lot of interesting information, but so far I find the narrative to be very choppy. It reads like the Copy Editor used to work for the Economist -- the writing can be very dense.

Great minds think alike. :) I'm still plowing through it and wishing it had been edited better.
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I also read Julie and Julia and Sokolov's revised Fading Feast. I love his writing. They couldn't be more different in terms of tone, though. She's hilarious, he's high brow.

I'm fresh out and don't want to read McGee yet or a cookbook per se. Any other suggestions for Food Lit?

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I love to get together and talk about some of these, and I might be willing to host.  Potluck, anyone?

That sounds like a plan and a generous offer. We need to decide if we are going to read the same book (it sounds like most of us have read/are reading Garlic and Sapphires) or just have a general discussion of current Food-Lit. We will also need to decide upon a time. I am assuming this will have to wait until RW is over.
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i read garlic and sapphires over the holidays, and upon completion, i really enjoyed it. but after reading the criticisms of the book here, i must agree. i was hoping for a more behind-the-scenes aspect of being a critic, not just the one story about finding a restaurant in flushing (if i remember correctly), or the story about her co-worker. however, as the post-script noted, reichl took a lot of liberties when writing the book compared to the reviews, such as she condensed several dinners at one restaurant into one dinner. personally, i enjoyed reading about the dinners, and what she had to go through to sample the various restaurants.

btw, anyone tried any of the recipes yet?

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That sounds like a plan and a generous offer.  We need to decide if we are going to read the same book (it sounds like most of us have read/are reading Garlic and Sapphires) or just have a general discussion of current Food-Lit.  We will also need to decide upon a time.  I am assuming this will have to wait until RW is over.

Of course it depends on how many people would be interested, and it would have to be a weekend. I'd be inclined to meet on a Sunday afternoon if possible.

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I'm fresh out and don't want to read McGee yet or a cookbook per se.  Any other suggestions for Food Lit?

If you haven't already read them, Jacques Pepin autobiography from a year or so ago is pretty good as are Michael Ruhlman's 2 books about the Culinary Institute of America. and of course Anthony Bourdain's books are fun.

Edited by Tweaked
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If you haven't already read them, Jacques Pepin autobiography from a year or so ago is pretty good as are Michael Ruhlman's 2 books about the Culinary Institute of America.

Yup. As is Pierre Franey's autobio, A Chef's Tale : A Memoir of Food, France and America.

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Of course it depends on how many people would be interested, and it would have to be a weekend.  I'd be inclined to meet on a Sunday afternoon if possible.

That sounds great. (And, as Barbara said, a generous offer. Thanks!)

Can we pinpoint a book? I haven't read any of what's mentioned above ('cept good old Kitchen Confidential) but would be most interested in Julie & Julia, least interested in The Perfectionist. Garlic & Sapphires seems to have a lot of meat (so to speak) for discussion...

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I've been reading Roland Mesnier's Dessert University and Shirley Corriher's Cookwise. Eventually I'm going to get pastry cream right, honestly! (still tastes more like paste than pastry, but I'm getting closer) But after a recent cookbook binge, I'm ready for some lighter stuff. Must dig out my favorite make-me-faint-with-hunger book, Calvin Trillin's Tummy Trilogy.

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If you haven't already read them, Jacques Pepin autobiography from a year or so ago is pretty good
I'm reading it now. I tried one of the recipes and liked it a lot: his mother's deviled eggs (plenty of parsley, evoo and garlic, no mayo, and then fried, yolk side down, in peanut oil.)
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