Book of the Month: A History of the World in 6 Glasses

Image

Unique Perspective of world history!

Must be the summer heat because we can’t seem to stop talking about liquids! So it just made perfect sense to pick up Tom Standage’s A History of the World in 6 Glasses. Honestly, the book surprised us. To begin with, the concept of charting the world history through how beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and cola are drunk itself is so unique and we confess, seemed fantastical. But Standage’s book turned out to be a crash course in ancient, classical and modern history peppered with stories that are relatable with our everyday life. After all who will not be able to understand the magical powers of beer bringing civilization together, or coffee being the stimulant for Renaissance? On the other hand, when we look at the fact that 3 of the drinks contain alcohol and the other 3 caffeine, it does makes sense how the world’s inspirations and influence would be traced down to the discovery or invention of these drinks!

The language is crisp and a refreshing change for a book loaded with (in any other hands would read boring) historical facts.But Standage does a brilliant job of keep it in the easy reading section. It’s the kind of book that one would enjoy reading while travelling, both stimulating and light ( just like any of the 6 drinks he talks about!!)

It’s the kind of book after which you would never look at your favorite drink the same way again! Here’s to quenching our thirst for knowledge and new horizons! Let all raise our glasses to that! 😀

Advertisements

Book of the Month : At Large and at small

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! 🙂

Anne Fadiman

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

Who's not addicted to the pursuit of happiness! 🙂

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! 🙂

Delicious essays! 🙂

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! 🙂

Book of the Month: Like Water for Chocolate

Must read for food lovers.

Recipe books are not thrilling for the typical reader and story books are not thrilling for cooks. But when a love story is poured into a recipe book, you have a combination that is arousing to the senses like few other books would ever do.

Laura Esquivel gives you a story of a woman in love and whose only outlet for expression – passion, agony, ecstasy that is being in love- is through food. The title ‘Like water to chocolate’ refers to the Spanish phrase which alludes to the boiling point of extreme emotions like anger, passion and sexuality.

Love and Food.. the two essentials!

 

 

We all have our moments when we reached out to food to express. Sometimes it’s eating that tub of ice cream or a bar of chocolate when you had the most horrible day. Or baking a cake because you can’t contain the excitement or just want to try something new. Or missing Amma’s mango chutney she makes whenever we fall sick. Or eating ginger cookies and getting nostalgic about the ones that grandma used to make 🙂 And just like food is universal, so is love. We’ve had our crushes, fallen in love, got bruised, picked up the pieces and for some lucky people, had their happy endings.

Which is why when the combination is put forth, the result is something which is entirely relatable and yet, Laura’s added her own secret ingredient which makes it equally elusive and magical.

The book is told in 12 parts, one for each month of the year and each starts with a recipe. When we start reading , it seems more like recipe book which incidently has a story woven in. But slowly and steadily, keeping the kitchen and cooking as the central point, she builds her characters and the complexities between them. The main point of the story revolves around Tita and Pedro who are unable to come together because of social customs and traditions. It is Tita’s joy,frustration,anger which gives fruit to marvelous culinary delights and recipes.

One of the things we loved about the book was the revelation of ingredients- the various permutation and  combinations which we had not though of before. One of the key turning points in the book revolve around quail in rose petal sauce.  Rose?! Who would have thought of adding roses to meat? Then there are the culinary secrets, like how to make the most perfect cup of hot chocolate! How are we not supposed to love such a book?

It’s hard to believe that this is Laura Esquivel’s first book because she displays a wonderful sense of balance. Sometimes she overwhelms you with recipes, the descriptions of it’s preparation and we are lost, mesmerised by the scents that’s arising from the stove.

Then just as suddenly we are swept away in emotions and drama of the story. More over the language is highly reminiscent of Marquez’s “One hundred years of solitude”  since it’s written in ‘magical realism‘. It’s a work of a wonderfully talented writer who knows her food.

All in all, whether you are someone who loves to read or just someone who loves food and cooking then this is a book that you have to get hold of.

Ps: Do let us know what you thought about the book. Or if you try one of the recipes! 🙂