It is hard to believe that Cooks The Books began four years ago this month! It all started when a few comments about how great a virtual foodie book club would be were traded about on the Foodie Blogroll and three book-devouring foodies; Rachel, The Crispy Cook, Joanna of Food Junkie Not Junk Food, and me (Deb at Kahakai Kitchen) formed a friendship and were off and running with a bi-monthly foodie book-inspired blogging event. Whether you joined us in the early days, or discovered us more recently, we value your participation and the sharing of thoughts and dishes inspired by the 24 books we have shared.
Rachel and I are very sad to announce that our co-host Joanna is stepping out of her hosting role at Cook The Books, needing to concentrate on her family and personal life right now. From the early days of setting up our CTB site and picking some really wonderful books to host, Jo will always be interwoven into the heart and soul of our group. We hope that she will pop in and visit us as she can in the future, and we thank her for all she has done to make this little blogging event a success.
As hard as it is to lose our good friend and co-founder Jo, we are very excited to introduce two new Cook The Books hosts—although they really don’t need much of an introduction as they have been among our long-time dedicated CTB participants. Please welcome Simona of briciole and Heather of girlichef, taking us from a trio to a quartet, starting this month, as Simona takes over the hosting duties for our current pick, Heartburn by Nora Ephron. (Note: We have extended the Heartburn deadline to Monday, December 3rd). Both fabulous bloggers, Simona also hosts her own virtual book event, Novel Food if you can’t get enough of reading and cooking! Heather’s passion for books, film and food caused her to create the monthly Food ‘n Flix event which some of you participate in and which we will be tying into our December/January CTB round.
Without further ado, we have our next four book selections—taking us through July of 2013, giving you plenty of time to locate them or add them to your holiday wish list! We have a great assortment—a dystopian thriller blockbuster, a Sicilian murder mystery, a macaron and pastry filled novel set in Macau, and a classic book of foodie essays from an icon in the food world.
December 2012/January 2013
Heather of girlichef is leading us of with the thrill-a-minute mega-best seller, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, adding a fun optional opportunity to share some foodie book and film fun. She says, “Imagine if you will, a post-apocalyptic world in which the select few dress, eat, and live extravagantly. The rest? They hunt, forage, and farm to put foods in their bellies. Also imagine having to send your child between the ages of 12 and 18 to fight to the death, with only one winner, alongside 23 other children. A tale of survival set in the Nation of Panem sometime in the future, this novel may have been written with a young audience in mind, but I think that people of all ages can (theoretically) relate.
*Special edition: This book was recently made into a film, and we will be announcing an optional feature this round – combine reading the book with watching the film-adaptation. We will be joining forces with Food ‘n Flix for an extended dose of The Hunger Games.” (Details to come but you can learn more about Food ‘n Flix here.)
The deadline for The Hunger Games is Monday, January 28th.
Chasing those winter doldrums away, Rachel, The Crispy Cook takes us back to Sicily with her pick of The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri. Rachel says, “Our very first Cook the Books pick focused on Sicily (we read Lily Prior’s novel “La Cucina” and I propose we return to the “scene of the crime” by reading the first book in Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano mysteryseries by author Andrea Camilleri. “The Shape of Water” is the book and in it, the scrupulously honest Inspector searches to uncover the facts behind the death of an engineer that local bigwigs, including Montalbano’s police chief, don’t want investigated. However as the rear cover blurb on my copy of the book notes, “Picking his way through a labyrinth of high-comedy corruption, delicious meals, vendetta firepower, and carefully planted false clues, Montalbano can
be relied on, whatever the cost, to get to the heart of the matter.”
The deadline for The Shape of Water is Monday, March 23rd.
From the Sicily and The Shape of Water, we journey to over China for The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe, hosted by me (Deb at Kahakai Kitchen). I am just now immersing myself in this descriptive foodie novel about Grace Miller, an English expat moving with her Australian husband to the tiny island of Macau in China. A stranger in a strangle land, Grace, escaping the realities of the shattered dreams of her life, uses her passion for baking to open a café—serving coffee, tea and pretty-colored macarons to the women of Macu. There should be plenty of food and baking inspiration in this lovely book about boldly creating a new life and blossoming in a different place.
The deadline for The Color of Tea is Monday, May 27th.
Back to Simona of briciole with a foodie classic, How to Cook a Wolf by M.F.K. Fisher. Simona says, “Where can I start to talk about M.F.K. Fisher? Probably the best way is to choose one of her books and invite you all to read it. This will give you a good sense of how wonderful she was as a writer. Of the books written by M.F.K. Fisher (1908-92) that I have so far read, my favorite is How to Cook a Wolf, which, I believe, illustrates well the qualities that make her writing enchanting. After spending three years in France with her first husband, she came back to the United States in 1932. Five years later she published her first book, Serve it Forth. In 1941 came Consider the Oyster, followed, in 1942, by How to Cook a Wolf, described by James Beard as “her brilliant approach to wartime economies for the table.”
Wartime brings special challenges to anybody trying to eat “with both grace and gusto.” Fisher refuses to allow all pleasures to disappear from the wartime table and provides advice and recipes that creatively make the best of what can be obtained and prepared at a time of tight budget and scarcity. As usual with Fisher’s books, the food at hand provides the springboard for reflections on topics ranging from the balanced diet to the choice of a drinking partner. Each chapter of How to Cook a Wolf presents Fisher’s thoughts on a topic: “How to Boil Water,” “How Not to Boil an Egg,” etc. Expounded principles are applied in recipes inserted in the text. The recipes are interesting (they include the aptly named War Cake, in which bacon grease can be used, “because of the spices that hide its taste”), though the main pleasure of reading the book is to listen to Fisher philosophize, muse, get passionate, gently satirize (herself first), and tell stories, where she describes people and events of her life.”
The deadline for How to Cook a Wolf is Monday, July 27th.
And there you have it—our reading list for the next several months. Simona will be back shortly with a post on our current October/November pick Heartburn. Until then, happy reading and cooking to you all!