Announcing a Reigning Triumvirate of Cook the Books Winners

3 08 2010
Our Featured Author and gracious guest judge, Erica Bauermeister, has read our Cook the Books entries about her novel “The School of Essential Ingredients” and the writing teacher and word addict in her has picked three top entries.  Read on to see what she has to say in her own words:
“What a fabulous, diverse group of blog entries!   I always say that reading is an interactive sport — books are not static entities; their words lift off the page and mingle with our memories and associations and thus become a new and different book in each reader’s mind.  But I have never had the chance to see readers take their interpretations of a book and turn them into food.  Brilliant!  And in many ways so much more “essential” than any discussion of the book in a classroom…
Winners, eh?  Well, that is tricky, as every judge before me has noted.  There were bloggers who replicated and enhanced dishes from The School of Essential Ingredients, bringing their own emotions and/or ingredients to the challenge, and bloggers who roamed far and delightfully afield in their culinary choices.  There were bloggers who cooked with chocolate or veggies from their own yards, those who utilized ingredients brought to them by loved ones, those who injected color into words through food, or made new creations when ingredients weren’t to be found.  Lillian would have been thrilled with all of them.  Which dish is best?  Would it be the subtle shift from cranberries to lemon in the stuffed turkey?  The pork with apples that had me yearning for autumn?  That gorgeous tower of a white cake? The loving recreation of Isabelle’s dinner? The cool eggplant salad that had me glad for hot weather? Or the figs with Grand Marnier and whipped cream that seemed like seduction itself?
In the end, because I am as addicted to words as I am to food (and as all the dishes had me yearning for the kitchen, in any case), my top three had as much to do with voice and literary creativity as they did with food.  Forgive me.  I do love the taste of good words in my mouth.   Here they are, in no particular order…
Girlichef –  I think if you can create both a dish and a new character for a book you get double bonus points.  Girlichef’s character, Heather, took me into her kitchen and her mind and had me craving limes and chiles and the sharp crunch of radishes.  Her pozole is a thing of comfort and beauty — and I agree completely that garnishes should NOT be optional.
It’s A Food Life did a gorgeous job of digging into the book and pulling out the quote or two that epitomized each chapter – but even better, she took the essence of the book and created her own dish, a lush and sensual gift to her husband in the form of a wine reduction sauce.  That last paragraph (“Notes”), with its descriptions of why she included each ingredient, was full of insight about the connection between emotion, memories, meaning and food.
Eats Well With Others — Truly, I am impressed by any medical student who takes the time to make pasta from scratch.  And I agree with some of the comments that suggested Joanne should consider a career in writing.  What an incredible voice!  “Buy locally.  If you will.”  Just wonderful, and the pasta was perfect for this time of year, the zing of lemon playing off the saltiness of the capers, the sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts and pasta holding steady underneath.  It could almost make you glad that it’s August and zucchinis are about to start exploding in gardens everywhere.
So thank you all — for reading, for cooking, for being so creative.  My next novel will be out next spring and is about seven women who all challenge one another to do one thing in the next year that is new or difficult or scary (and yes, one of the challenges involves food).   Perhaps you all could start a new blog club for challenges, culinary and otherwise? :)”
Congratulations to our three Winners!  Girlichef and Eats Well With Others have already received their culinary laurels in previous Cook the Books rounds, and now It’s A Food Life will win the coveted badge of honor (winging its way to your blog after I type this up).
Deb of Kahakai Kitchen will now take up the hosting reins as we explore the pages of Madhur Jaffrey’s book, “Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India”.
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14 responses

3 08 2010
Natashya

Congratulations ladies! I loved your entries too, beautiful. And so lovely of the author to participate. Looking forward to her next book and the next CTB selection.
Cheers!

3 08 2010
girlichef

I am grinning from ear to ear!! Thanks so much to Ms. Bauermeister for taking the time to read each of our posts…that was so kind of you! And WOOOT! So excited to be in the company of you lovely ladies 😉 congrats! Thanks so much for choosing my post…it was one of my personal favorites so far. And thanks Rachel for such a great pic…truly looking forward to EB’s next book 🙂

3 08 2010
Foodycat

Congratulations you three! Such wonderful entries from all of you, I’m not surprised they caught Ms Bauermeister’s eye!

4 08 2010
Lana

OMG! Husband picked up four books for me at the library a couple of days ago, and I spent Monday morning (my day off) reading THIS particular book, cover to cover, crying, laughing, smiling, and not wanting it to end.
I was just telling him today how much Erica Bauermeister had touched my soul with her writing and approach to food. It was like looking in the mirror!
I stumbled on the CTB by chance, perusing Heather’s blog (thank, you, thank you, thank you). I am disappointed I missed the deadline, but I am also excited about this Book Club!
I’m in!

4 08 2010
Kelly @ It's a Food Life

Wow! Thank you to Ms. Bauermeister for the kind words and for taking the time to sift through all of our posts. I am very pleased to be included in the company of girlichef – great post- and eatswellwithothers – very funny post – Congratulations ladies! I had a lot of fun with this exercise and I look forward to the next roundup.

PS. I would gladly and proudly display the CTB badge on my blog but I haven’t received it yet. Thanks, Kelly

4 08 2010
Kelly @ It's a Food Life

Got it! Thanks Rachel.

4 08 2010
Celiacs In The House

Congrats to all three of you and Erica is so right that each of you captured the magic in her novel. It was such a pleasure to read all of the posts. I can’t wait to see what everyone cooks up for the next challenge.
Wendy

4 08 2010
Rachel

Congrats to our winning bloggers and welcome to Lana for checking out our little band of cooks who read, write and eat! I hope you do join us as we read our way through various books featuring foodcentric themes. The Madhur Jaffrey book up next is really savory.

5 08 2010
DebinHawaii

Congratulations to all of our winners!!! It is so well deserved. Great job Rachel! I hope we have such great posts and dishes for our next pick Climbing the Mango Trees! 😉

5 08 2010
Kelly @ It's a Food Life

I came across this website. It is a list of “50 Fabulous Food Reads”. The School of Essential Ingredients is 11 on the list. I thought it might be helpful for future picks.

http://oedb.org/library/features/delicious-reads-fabulous-food-novels

7 08 2010
Simona

Congratulations to the trio of winners!

7 08 2010
Can't Believe We Ate...

Congrats to our winners!! Woo-woo-woo!! Thank you so much, Ms. Bauermeister, for taking the time to visit each of our sites, and reading each of our posts! Mercy! What an honor!
What a great group to be a part of!
Now…on to Climbing the Mango Trees!

7 08 2010
Judy

I just finished reading this selection last night, too late to participate, but I have to say that I loved the book. I’m looking forward to the author’s new book. Now, I’ll have to track down Climbing the Mango Trees, and see if I can read it in time.

13 08 2010
Tina

Congratulations to all. That is so cool that Ms. Bauermeister weighed in on the entries 🙂 I really enjoyed reading all of them.

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