Archive for September, 2014

Hallelujah!

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”                             Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”

Today is Leonard Cohen’s 80th birthday. Tuesday he releases yet another album… a-ma-zing! A new book, LEONARD COHEN everybody knows is a retrospective of his life & career, and is a real glimpse into the poet, writer, and master of song, over the course of his life. It’s a beautiful book about a beautiful soul. On May 26, 2009, we saw him perform at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa (a real concert hall – not a hockey arena!). We had box seats – first box, first row, and it was without a doubt THE BEST show I’ve seen in my entire life.

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The Care and Management of Lies

Jacqueline Winspear’s The Care and Management of Lies is a wonderful story of “The Great War”, WWI, the war to end all wars. I’ve read so many books about the war over the past couple of years, all of them wonderful by the way, but this one is the first that has a story revolving, in part, around food – yes, food. Which is probably why I loved it so much. When Kezia Marchant marries her best friend Thea Brissenden’s brother Tom, little does she know that, not only will farm life change her beyond imagination, but she will be left to “tend the shop” when Tom goes off to fight in the war. Tom is amazed at how Kezia embraces farm life and cooks meals that rise way above the ordinary, basic farm food that he grew up on. In order to buoy his spirits while off fighting the unthinkable, and not reveal just how difficult it is to run the farm, Kezia writes delicious descriptions of imaginary meals she’s prepared for her beloved. These letters from Kezia become the heart and soul of his existence in the hell-hole that he’s landed in. Even his fellow soldiers need daily rations of readings to keep them satisfied. In reverse, Tom sends home letters that hide the unthinkable horrors of war. Each hide their true feelings of that terrible time of hardship and horror, hoping against all odds that the ghastly war will end soon and their lives will be returned to something akin to normal quickly. But everyone thought the war would be over by Christmas that first year didn’t they. I really enjoyed this book. It was a surprise find for me… I’m glad I spend so much time wandering around book stores. I have no idea how you’d find these treasures I discover online.

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The Rosie Project

I decided to read The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion because it was on Bill Gates summer reading list. OK call me crazy.  He never reads fiction. His wife Melinda does, and she found this book so good she kept reading funny bits out loud til he decided he’d better read the entire book.  Don Tillman is a brilliant genecist who, unfortunately, has alot of trouble attracting the ladies, or any lady. He’s never even had a second date. He decides to attack this problem in the evidence-based way he approaches any scientific problem. He develops a 16 page questionnaire that he hopes will narrow down the wide field of “eligibles”. He calls this The Wife Project. Enter candidate Rosie Jarmin. It soon becomes evident that Rosie doesn’t live up to Don’s high expectations and rigorous scrutiny. But she has a project of her own,  finding her biological father, and she hopes Don can help her with her search. Don abandons the Wife Project for the meantime and devotes himself to The Father Project. And yes, the obvious happens – Don falls head over heals for Rosie while helping her search for her father. This is a great book, full of quirky little bits, unexpected humour, and I’m glad Simsion decided, at age 50, to abandon his career to become a writer. The Rosie Project is his first book and it has become a super hit. Good for him! And good for us… book #2 The Rosie Effect comes out the end of September.

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The Hundred-Foot Journey

I decided to read The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais because I saw the ad for the movie on TV. I like Helen Mirren, and I especially like stories with a food theme. And there’s a whole buffet of food mentioned in this story. Morais really had to do his homework and research for culinary info and he did it exceptionally well. I learned more about the various types of oysters than I ever wanted to know. Born above his grandfather’s restaurant in Mumbai, young Hassan Haji cuts his teeth on the wonderful aromas emanating from the kitchen downstairs. After a devastating family tragedy they move, lock, stock & kitchen pots, to London. Eventually the family settles in Lumiere in the French Alps, where they open the first Indian restaurant in the area, which just happens to be directly across the road from a well established French relais. (Hence The Hundred-Food Journey.) Owner Madame Mallory wages culinary war with the family but eventually recognizes the talent in young Hassan and offers to mentor him in the art of proper French cooking. Hassan leaves the comfort of his family to set off on an adventure he never imagined. This is a wonderful story, with a backdrop of food that will make your mouth water. Once again we’ve been treated to a really delicious book from a first-time author. I hope he plans to write more! Read it, then go see the movie. (A friend said it’s fantastic, all those wonderful descriptions of food are a feast for your eyes.)

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