If you do know this book, you must be thinking this is a very very curious choice for a book review for a food blog to feature. But then again, if you have read it you’ll also guess why quite easily. This collection of familiar essays by Anne Fadiman has two of the most passionate and well written prose about food; ice creams and coffee in particular!
Essay writing has been, for the most parts, seen as the pain in the posterior piece of writing that we all had to endure in school. It was only on introduction to Fadiman that we realised that it can be as polished as poetry, as complete and whole as a novel and as delightful as a short story. Familiar essays are an even rarer form of prose and Fadiman has fine tuned it to a whole new level. The tone is always personal, one to one making the reader feel like we are sharing an intimate conversation with a close friend; one whom we had lost touch and now getting back into the groove with. The language she uses has a surgical precision with which it evokes the images, yet the images are far from clinical; because the thoughts range from the intellectual to the whimsical. It’s the equivalent of a multi-flavored ice candy ( or as the Harry Potter fans in our team like to point out, like a pack of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Bean, but without the barf one! )
And her range of topics is eclectic to say the least. From butterflies to penchant for
fatalistic Arctic explorers to , like I’ve said, Ice creams and her obsession with Coffee. When you read the dedication itself ( For Kim – Collector of Tiger Swallowtails, Emperor of Ice Cream), you know you are going to be reading someone who relates to food on a personal level. And when you read the essay on Ice cream, is when you realise how much. In her own words, ” As far as I was concerned, a vote against Jef-Freeze Treats was a vote against ice cream and a vote against ice cream was a vote against the pursuit of happiness” , and we could not agree more! But her essay is more than her personal viewpoint or stand for ice cream. It is also a meticulously researched article on the history of ice creams served with dollops of humor. You know you are reading a rare talent when you learn as much as you enjoy reading it.
The same can be said of her essay titled with startling simplicity ‘Coffee’. We love her ramblings through the by-lanes of literature to find the coffee addicts and her musings on which piece of literature could have been the results of a much caffeinated muse!
But what makes this book truly deserving of Zoinker’s ‘Book of the Month’ is the recipe for Kim Fadiman’s Coffee Kahlua Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream! (which also reveals why the title given at dedication is well deserved!) Yes, you read that right, it is Liquid Nitrogen. For all food lovers who love to experiment with food, this is a recipe which takes it a notch up and blends the art of cookery and science of chemistry! No, we are not sharing the recipe. It’s for you to read Fadiman and find out! Trust us when we say this, you’d be surely in for a treat when you do!