Trillin, Calvin. Third Helpings. New Haven: Ticknor & Fields, 1983.
Reason read: to finish the Tummy Trilogy started in March in honor of National Food Month.
Trillin is at it again with a third and final installment of the Tummy Trilogy; another series of essays all about his idea of good eating. Third Helpings starts with Trillin’s belief that Spaghetti Carbonara should be the national dish at Thanksgiving. It’s a quirky idea, but I get his point. Fourteen essays follow.
The more I read Trillin, the more I admire his wife and her ability to travel to strange lands to eat even stranger foods without complaint, but my favorite character was Mrs. Rome. The list of food she sampled between pages 97-99 is very impressive. It is no wonder she gained nine pounds on that trip!
Irony: the last chapter of Third Helpings is about Crescent City, Florida. I guess there used to be a big catfish festival along the St. John River. At the time I was finishing Third Helpings I was in Florida, not far from Crescent City.
Author fact: According to IMDB, Calvin Trillin is also an actor. What the what? He was in Sleepless in Seattle. Mind blown.
Book trivia: Third Helpings is the final book in the Tummy Trilogy, but Trillin has also written a memoir about his father and a few books about his wife, Alice. None of those books are on my Challenge list.
Playlist: “Oh Marie,” “Tell Me That You Love Me,” “The Streets of Laredo,” “Rock Around the Clock,” “Moon Over Miami,” and “Let’s Go To the Hop.”
Nancy said: Pearl called Trillin’s essays “treasures.”
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Food for Thought” (p 91).
Trillin, Calvin. The Tummy Trililogy: Alice, Let’s Eat. New York: Farrah, Straus and Giroux, 1994.
Reason read: to continue the series started in March for Food Month.
Calvin Trillin has an ever-patient wife. In Alice, Let’s Eat Mrs. Alice Trillin practically steals the show in every chapter she appears. She has great wit. As an example, I loved her “Law of Compensatory Cashflow.” My husband has the same law: if you save a bunch of money by not buying something, you are free to use that savings on something equally as frivolous. At the time of writing, an in-flight meal cost $33. Trillin packs his own “flight picnic” so he can spend the “saved” money somewhere else, maybe on an oyster loaf. Much like American Fried, Alice, Let’s Eat is a collection of humorous essays all about eating and finding the best food across the globe.
As an aside, I need to look up Steve’s Ice Cream in Somerville to see if it still exists.
Sound track: “Hello, Dolly.” Musically related, Trillin visited Owensboro and I couldn’t help but think of Natalie Merchant coving the song, “Owensboro.” No one knows who wrote the old folk song, but it’s a good one.
Author fact: I wanted to find some fact that was “Alice” related. I learned that Trillin and his wife were married just shy of 40 years. She passed away in 2001, just four years shy of their fortieth anniversary.
Book trivia: Alice, Let’s Eat can be read independently of any other book in the Tummy Trilogy.
Nancy said: Pearl called Alice, Let’s Eat a treasure.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Food For Thought” (p 91). Curiously, Alice, Let’s Eat was not included in the index of Book Lust.
Trillin, Calvin. American Fried. New York: Noonday Press, 1983.
Reason read: March is Food Month
American Fried takes its readers from Kansas City (okay, mostly Kansas City) to New York to Louisiana and beyond on a culinary journey of “good eats” as Guy Fieri would say. Trillin approaches the subject of food and eating with humor and, dare I say, a little sarcasm? He takes a few jabs at the notion French cuisine is superior to all others. He is not one for “fine” dining and he is a man who takes his cream cheese seriously. Pardon the pun, but each essay is loaded like a baked potato: full of fun tidbits.
Not to point out the obvious but American Fried is a little dated. The price of a steak in the mid-1970s is drastically different than today.
As an aside: have you ever seen the show, “Somebody Feed Phil” on I-Forget-Which-Channel? At the end of each episode Phil Skypes with his family and shares a delicacy with them over the screen. Phil’s wife is great and while reading American Fried I wondered if Alice was anything like her.
As another aside, rugelach is Trillin’s favorite pastry. It’s very high on my list, too.
Line I liked, “Hallucinations people suffer when gripped by the fever of Hometown Food Nostalgia” (p 10-11).
Author fact: American Fried was first published as “Adventures of a Happy Eater” in 1974.
Book trivia: American Fried is the first book in the Tummy Trilogy. My edition of American Fried has a new foreword.
Nancy said: Pearl said Trillin “approaches food with humor and much gusto” and called the essays “a treasure” (Book Lust p 91).
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Food For Thought” (p 91). Interestingly enough, all three of Trillin’s books were left out of the index.
Shapiro, Laura. Perfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century. New York: North Point Press, 1986.
Reason read: June is the month we usually migrate to the CSA and our farm of choice, Mountain View. I’m also reading this as part of the Portland Public Library reading challenge.
This was a great read on so many levels. Laura Shapiro writes with an easy and often humorous style. If you are interested in the science behind cooking; the chemical process of cooking food or the biological process of digestion; how arithmetic factors into cooking. How about the study of bacteria, whether it be from the germy dishcloth or the garbage can? Domestic “scientists” were determined to improve diets through science and chemistry.
Cooking because the great equalizer at the turn of the century. the interest in learning to cook was as such that in shops cooking was done in the open so that customers could witness both ingredients and preparation (the birth of the cooking show?).
From a feminist angle, it was great to read about so many women “firsts.” For example, Ellen Richards as the first woman admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Even though she was considered a “special student” she broke the male-only barrier in 1870.
My favorite invention from this time period was the “Aladdin Oven” – a portable stove the size of a dinner pail that would cook a meal all day long. The first slow cooker!
Author fact: Shapiro has two books listed in More Book Lust. The second book, Something From the Oven is on my list to be read in a few years.
Nancy said: Pearl called Perfection Salad “entertaining and informative” and promised readers it would “change the way you look at food and its preparation” (More Book Lust p 73).
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Dewey Deconstructed 600s” (p 71).
Of course I am not really traveling anywhere, but for the first time in a couple of months I have (finally) gotten back to reading. and. And! And, I did drive a car for the first time since 3/19/20. There’s that. In truth, I have been reading all along, just not with the pleasure and leisure I used to have. All of that is slowly coming back, in part due to the realization it’s okay to disappear into the pages from time to time. It is okay to read with no other agenda. I have started to think of the books as different forms of travel. Without further ado, here are the books for June:
- The Second Summer of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares. Places I’ll go: Washington, D.C. & Alabama.
- The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. Places: Pennsylvania & something like heaven.
- Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Places: around Sweden.
- The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron. Places: Barcelona, Spain and thensome.
- Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux. Places: My back yard of Western Massachusetts and Honduras.
- Garden of the Gods by Gerald Durrell. Place: Cofu, Greece.
- Perfection Salad by Laura Shapiro. Places: all around New England
What happened in November? I finished physical therapy. But really, PT is not finished with me. I signed up for a 5k in order to keep the running alive. As soon as I did that I needed x-rays for the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my hip and groin. Like stabbing, electrocuting pains. Diagnosis? More sclerosis and fusing. Yay, me! In defiance of that diagnosis I then signed up for a 21k. I am officially crazy.
Here are the books finished for the month of November:
- A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (AB/print)
- The Edge of the Crazies by Jamie Harrison
- Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay
- Beaufort by Ron Leshem
- Gastronomical Me by M.F.K. Fisher
- No Villain Need Be by Vardis Fisher (finally finished!)
- Mrs. Pollifax on Safari by Dorothy Gilman
- Henry James: the Master by Leon Edel
- I Will Bear Witness: the Nazi Years, 1942 – 1945 by Victor Klemperer
Early Review for LibraryThing: nothing. I jinxed myself by mentioning the book I was supposed to receive. Needless to say, it never arrived. So I never finished it. Ugh.
Fisher, M.F.K. The Gastronomical Me. New York: North Point Press, 1989.
Reason read: November is Hunger and Homelessness Awareness month.
This is a series of essays written about Fisher’s life between 1912 and 1941. She covers a wide range of topics; from the first time food became significant to her as a teenager in boarding school to her adventures as a newly married wife living in France. When she said goodbye to her Californian-American palate and encountered French cuisine it was like having an epiphany for Fisher. Her ears (and taste buds) were open to a whole new way of experiencing food and drink. Sprinkled throughout the stories are glimpses of Fisher’s personal history. Her relationship with sister Norah and brother David, the demise of her first marriage with Al, the slow death of her second love, Chexbres, and her awakening to a different culture in Mexico. At times I found Fisher’s language to be overly dramatic. I wondered if she spoke like that in real life.
Confessional: I found Fisher to be a bit snobbish. Every time she called someone stupid or simple for whatever reason, I cringed.
Quote I cared for, “Everyone knows, from books or experience, that living out of sight of any shore does rich and powerful things to humans (p 40).
Author fact: Fisher has written over thirty books. I have already read A Considerable Town for the Challenge and have two more to go. Another more basic piece of trivia is that M.F.K. stands for Mary Frances Kennedy.
Book trivia: Gastronomical Me has been called Fisher’s most autobiographical work and has been considered her best.
Nancy said: M.F.K. Fisher “expresses her love of good food and its importance in the lives of families and communities” (p 91).
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Food for Thought” (p 91).
running – oops – I mean the training is officially over. I don’t know where the run will go from here. I am toying with a 5k for Safe Passage next month. To hell with toys. I WILL run for Safe Passage next month! But really, I don’t even want to think about that right now since PT has ended. For now, I still have the books. The list is long because we aren’t going anywhere for Thanksgiving. Here’s to four days off with nothing to do but read, read, read. Here is what’s on tap for November:
- A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (AB) ~ in honor of November being the best time (supposedly) to visit India (AB / print). Confessional: I think I would like to remove the category of “Best time to visit fill-in-the-blank.” How am I to know when is the best time to visit a country when I have never been there myself? I’m getting a little tired of saying “supposedly” the best time to visit.
- Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay ~ in honor of Kay’s birth month
- Beaufort by Ron Leshem ~ in honor of Lebanon gaining independence in November
- Gastronomical Me by M.F.K. Fisher ~ to recognize National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness month
- No Villain Need Be by Vardis Fisher ~ to continue (and finally finish) the series started in August in honor of Idaho
- Mrs. Pollifax on Safari by Dorothy Gilman ~ to continue the series started in September in honor of Grandparents month
- I Will Bear Witness/To the Bitter End by Victor Klemperer ~ to continue the series started in October in honor of Klemperer’s birth month
- Henry James: the Master by Leon Edel ~ yes, I am still reading this. Just tying up loose ends.
Early Review for LibraryThing IF it arrives (so far it hasn’t):
- Jam Today: a Diary of Cooking with What You’ve Got by Tod Davies
If there is time:
- Foolscap, or, the Stages of Love (fiction) by Michael Malone ~ in honor of Malone’s birth month
- The Edge of the Crazies (fiction) by Jamie Harrison ~ in honor of Montana becoming a state in November.
- The Caliph’s House (fiction) by Tahir Shah ~ in honor of November being the month Morocco gained independence.
Spurlock, Morgan. Don’t Eat this Book: Fast Food and the Supersizing of America. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2005.
Reason read: April is National Food Month
If you know anything about Morgan Spurlock you know he is sarcastic, funny and extremely outspoken. I should also mention smart and fearless.When it comes to the evils of fast food Spurlock is all of those things times a hundred. Mention health issues related to morbid obesity and you can practically hear his frustration ooze out in every written word. Spurlock is the man who decided to eat nothing but fast food for thirty days and document his journey. His findings are not earth shattering. They shouldn’t even be surprising and yet they prompted the writing of Don’t Eat This Book. Quite clearly, Spurlock had much more to say on the subject. Within these pages he explores diets around the country, particularly in schools, hospitals and other institutions across the United States. He interviews lawmakers and key decisions makers in an attempt to investigate and reveal the culprits behind our nation’s growing health crisis.
Edited to add: Right after I posted this blog I received an email from LiveStrong with the subject, “What’s REALLY inside McDonald’s chicken McNuggets?” I kid you not.
- At the time of Spurlock’s book he reported McDonald’s had bought Chipotle. What the what?!? Not exactly. McDonald’s initially invested in Chipotle but by 2006 (a year after Don’t Eat This Book was published) they had fully divested itself from the chain. Phew!
- You support Philip Morris whenever you buy Altoids, Kraft products, or Milk-Bone dog biscuits, just to name a few.
Author fact: As I mentioned before, Spurlock made a movie which I’m sure you have either seen or at least heard about called “Supersize Me!” – all about what happens when you eat nothing but McDonald’s food for thirty days. He won the Best Director prize at Sundance for his efforts.
Book trivia: There are a lot of “side bar” notes. During the listening of Don’t Eat This Book they sounded like interruptions.
Audio trivia: Spurlock reads his own book.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Guilt-Inducing Books” (p 110).
I don’t know where March went. I’ve looked under calendars and in date books and I still can’t figure it out. The month went by so fast! Here are the books finished for March:
- Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
- The Assistant by Bernard Malamud
- Family Man by Jayne Krentz
- Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
- Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (AB)
- The Brontes by Juliet Barker (DNF)
- Means of Ascent by Robert Caro (DNF)
- Center of the World by Jacqueline Sheehan (Fun)
- In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White (would have been an Early Review book a long time ago)
On tap for April (besides a little Noodle 5k run):
- A Considerable Town by MFK Fisher ~ in honor of April being the best time to visit France
- The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman ~ for fun
- Green Thoughts by Eleanor Perenyi ~ in honor of gardening month
- Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot ~ in honor of April Fools
- Don’t Eat This Book by Morgan Spurlock ~ in honor of April being Food Month (AB)
- The Grand Tour by Tim Moore ~ in honor of Harvey Ball passing in April
Kurlansky, Mark. Cod: a Biography of the Fish That Changed the World. New York: Penguin Books, 1998.
Reason read: Mark Kurlansky was born in December.
This is a book about all things cod. Really. Beyond the historical and ecological significance of the fish there is etymology and art and music and of course, recipes. Don’t get too excited – they’re really old recipes that do not sound appetizing! As an aside, I have a student worker who is just amazed someone could write an entire book not just about fish in general, but a specific fish at that. Here’s my reply: It’s a concise book, but did you know that color of a cod fish depends on the local conditions? Also, the colder the water, the smaller the fish because cod grow faster in warmer waters. Better yet, there are fascinating tidbits not related to cod. For example, all English towns that end in “wich” were at one time salt producers. And did you know Clarence Birdseye of Brooklyn, New York held over 250 patents before his death and not all were related to the process of freezing food? But, back to the cod: let’s not forget about the historical significance this fish had on the American Revolution! Interesting, right? So, in the end one can safely say Cod is not just about the historical significance of one little fish, it’s about a way of life .
Two lines I liked, “Fishermen were keeping their secrets, while explorers were telling the world” (p 28) and “Finally, in 1902, seven years after the death of Huxley, the British government began to concede that there was such a thing as overfishing” (p 144). Imagine that.
Confessional: Mark Kurlansky prompted me to Google/YouTube the song “Saltfish” by Mighty Sparrow. I learned something new!
Author fact: Kurlansky has experience working on commercial fishing boats. Cool.
Book trivia: the physical book is one of those “feels good to hold” books and it includes great photographs & illustrations.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust and Book Lust To Go. In the chapter “Mark Kurlansky: Too Good To Miss” (p 141) in Book Lust and again in the chapter “Newfoundland” (p 154) in Book Lust To Go.
This should be my favorite month because I’ve been so deeply tied to Just ‘Cause (think pink) and I love, love, love Halloween. But, all I can think about is the run. Here are the books, by the way!
Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan In a Strange City by Laura Lippman By a Spider’s Thread by Laura Lippman Recognitions by William Gaddis Maus by Art Spiegelman Lady Franklin’s Revenge by Ken McGoogan Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao* by Junot Diaz Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan A Good Doctor’s Son by Steven Schwartz Drinking: a Love Story by Caroline Knapp Ancient Rome on 5 Denarii a Day by Philip Matyszak Nero Wolfe Cookbook by Rex Stout Treasure Hunter by W. Jameson Maus II by Art Spiegelman (Jan) The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat In Xanadu by William Dalrymple The Assault by Harry Mulisch Wild Blue by Stephen Ambrose Shot in the Heart by Mikal Gilmore Greater Nowheres by David Finkelstein/Jack London Alma Mater by P.F Kluge Old Man & Me by Elaine Dundy Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy Good Life by Ben Bradlee Underworld by Don DeLillo Her Name Was Lola by Russell Hoban Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton Fires From Heaven by Robert Jordan Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce Herb ‘n’ Lorna by Eric Kraft Polish Officer by Alan Furst– Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan Walden by Henry David Throreau Reservations Recommended by Eric Kraft Selected Letters of Norman Mailer edited by J. Michael Lennon Chasing Monarchs by Robert Pyle Saturday Morning Murder by Batya Gur Bebe’s By Golly Wow by Yolanda Joe Lives of the Muses by Francine Prose Broom of the System by David Wallace Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan Little Follies by Eric Kraft Literary Murder by Batya Gur Bob Marley, My Son by Cedella Marley Booker Night Flight by Antoine de Saint-Exupery Southern Mail by Antoine de Saint- Exupery Measure of All Things, the by Ken Alder Two Gardeners by Emily Wilson Royal Flash by George Fraser Binding Spell by Elizabeth Arthur Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan ADDED: Castle in the Backyard by Betsy Draine Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan Where Do You Stop? by Eric Kraft Everything You Ever Wanted by Jillian Lauren Murder on a Kibbutz by Batya Gur Flash for Freedom! by George Fraser Murder in Amsterdam by Ian Buruma Petra: lost city by Christian Auge From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese Flashman at the Charge by George MacDonald Fraser What a Piece of Work I Am by Eric Kraft Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson Ruby by Cynthia Bond
Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan Murder Duet by Batya Gur Flashman in the Great Game – George MacDonald Fraser At Home with the Glynns by Eric Kraft Sixty Stories by Donald Barthelme New Physics and Cosmology by Arthur Zajonc Grifters by Jim Thompson Snow Angels by James Thompson
So Many Roads: the life and Times of the Grateful Dead by David Browne
Short story: Drinking with the Cook by Laura Furman Short Story: Hagalund by Laura Furman Lone Pilgrim by Laurie Colwin Not so Short story: The Last of Mr. Norris by Christopher Isherwood short story: Jack Landers is My Friend by Daniel Stolar short story: Marriage Lessons by Daniel Stolar Light in August by William Faulkner Not so Short story: Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood A Comedy & A Tragedy by Travis Hugh Culley
Feed Zone by Biju Thomas Leaving Small’s Hotel by Eric Kraft Flashman’s Lady by George MacDonald Fraser In the Footsteps of Genghis Khan by John DeFrancis Faster! by James Gleick
Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett ADDED: Families and Survivors by Alice Adams Inflating a Dog by Eric Kraft
Castles in the Air by Judy Corbett
Flashman and the Redskins by George MacDonald Fraser
Queens’ Play by Dorothy Dunnett
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving Petty by Warren Zanes
Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
Homicide by David Simon
- Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman (AB)
- Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett
- Flashman and the Dragon by George MacDonald Fraser
- ADDED: A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernandez (ER)
- ADDED: Crows Over a Wheatfield by Paula Sharp
- ADDED: Time Traveler: In Search of Dinosaurs and Ancient Mammals from Montana to Mongolia by Michael Novacek
- Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman (Nov)
- Flashman and the Mountain of Light by George MacDonald Fraser (Nov)
- Pawn in Frankincense by Dorothy Dunnett (Nov)
- Andorra by Peter Cameron (Nov)
DNF = Did Not Finish; AB = Audio Book; ER = Early Review; DNS = Did Not Start; EB = E-Book
Golub, Joanna Sayago and Deena Kastor. Runner’s World Cookbook: 150 Ultimate Recipes for Fueling Up and Slimming Down – While Enjoying Every Bite. Rodale Books, 2013.
Can I tell you how much I loved this cookbook? When it was due back at the owning library I didn’t want to give it up! It took everything I had not to renew it again and again. Everything about the book was gorgeous, from the food to the photography. This is one book I
am definitely going to buy for myself had to buy for myself.
As someone who is starting to take running a little more seriously (as in serious enough to train for something longer than a 13.1 miler), I needed a little help with the other parts of (ahem) training. Stuff like strength training and yoga was the start (and oh so helpful), but I needed even more than that and that’s where nutrition came in. I had heard a great deal about the Runner’s World cookbook thanks to magazines like Running for Women. Finally, I borrowed it from a library and was not disappointed. The recipes are yummy and I have lost 12 pounds. So get out there and eat!
Larrew, Brekka Hervey. Banana Berry Smoothies and Other Breakfast Recipes (fun foods for cool cooks). Minneapolis, Minnesota: Capstone Press, 2008.
Reason read: always, always on the hunt for ways to make me & myself eat breakfast.
So. This turned out to be a cookbook for young adults. I say young “adult” because there are sharp knives, frying oil and a hot stove involved. Kids definitely need to be supervised while following the recipes if they are under the age of 8 or 9 years old. True to its title, the first recipe is a banana berry smoothie. It then moves on to other typical treats like muffins and pancakes. I thought the entire was well laid out and incredibly cute. It even had a little index. I liked the photographs of the tools needed for each recipe and the trivia facts were fun, too. Did you know Pancake Day is on Shrove Tuesday?
Author fact: Brekka is a stay-at-home mom.
Book trivia: even adults can use these recipes if they are anything like me and have trouble being inspired to eat breakfast!
Stout, Rex. The Nero Wolfe Cookbook. New York: Viking Press, 1973.
This is one of those cookbooks I would call “unique” just because it isn’t just a bunch of recipes with a common theme. This cookbook is for the diehard Nero Wolfe fans who really want to submerge themselves in his world. It’s a great concept. I don’t know how many readers actually tried to cook these meals, but they are real, honest-to-goodness recipes, albeit with weird ingredients like kummel, kirschwasser, sauterne, and pig livers. There is a whole chapter on just corn (note to self: try the roasting of corn in their husks instead of the traditional steaming). Throughout the recipes are little snippets of Wolfe’s unique relationship with food. I found it interesting that he can’t stand to have hungry visitors, even if those same visitors are thought to be suspects. Of course, it isn’t Nero doing all the cooking. He has his trusted cook, Fritz Brenner for that.
Reason read: Rex Stout was born in December. This was a quick “read” for the end of the month.
Author fact: According to the author info in The Nero Wolfe Cookbook, Stout had a passion for hotdogs. Okay.
Book trivia: I will admit 100% that I have read this at the wrong time. Having only read one Nero Wolfe mystery thus far (Fer-de-Lance) these recipes meant nothing to me. What saved me from
quitting saving this for later were the quotations from the books in reference to each recipe.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Rex Stout: Too Good To Miss” (p 226).