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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Food and wine books for the holiday gift period -- part 4


What's a holiday without humour or a novel to curl up with? We seem to
have another bumper crop this year…

DO TRAVEL WRITERS GO TO HELL? (Three Rivers Press, 2008, 272 pages,
$13.95 paper covers) is by Thomas Kohnstamm. There are 12 great
chapters here detailing high adventures, questionable ethics, and
professional hedonism amongst travel and wine writers. He exposes the
sins, the pitfalls, and the excesses of the travel-writing industry,
sharing his own trips through Brazil with sex and pills. He was hired
in 2004 to contribute to the "Lonely Planet Brazil" guidebook. He soon
learned that reality was different from his expectations. An exciting,
humourous book.
GOURMET SMARTS: feed your mind (Smartsco, 2008, $16.95) is a set of
cards, actually 60 questions and answers cards. Together they form a
gourmet tips guide, complete with dos and don'ts. There is even a score
pad. This fun game has been pulled together by Manny Howard, food
writer for New York Times, Food & Wine, and others). There are three
topics: lingo, cuisines, and ingredients. It can be addictive, and if
you are as smart as I am, you'll clean up against your friends…

THE WINE SNOB'S DICTIONARY; an essential lexicon of oenological
knowledge (Broadway Books, 2008, 111 pages, $12.95 paper covers) is a
follow-up to last year's remarkable "The Food Snob's Dictionary". David
Kamp is back, assisted by David Lynch, once a wine director at Babbo's
Ristorante in NYC. While much of this is funny, they have no idea what
"claret" is, nor what "cigar box" is. They also miss the boat on
spoofing barrels and treatments. There are no entries for types
(French, US) or aging (barrel fermentation, barrel aging). In fact,
there is a whole range to satirize here. The true wine snob goes on ad
nauseum about barrel character. Most of the parodies are on American
wines, French wines, supertuscans, and labels. Still, a good effort
that could have been better.

THE QUILTER'S KITCHEN; an "Elm Creek Quilts" novel with recipes (Simon
and Schuster, 2008, 214 pages, $19.95 hard cover) is by Jennifer
Chiaverini. The story is about quilters eager to preserve their
culinary heritage. Chef Anna, one of the newest members of the circle
of quilters, is to write the official cookbook. It is an elaboration of
previously established fictional characters. There is even a metric
equivalents page for the avoirdupois ingredients. The 100 basic recipes
were created by Sally Sampson, and there is even a recipe index.

TURNING TABLES (Dial Press, 2008, 352 pages, $24 hard covers) is by
sisters Rose and Heather MacDowell. They are former waiters, so of
course much of the book is based on their own experiences. It is a tell
all story disguised as a novel, part of the "chick lit" genre. A
corporate worker has lost her job, and must survive. She waits tables.
Of course, there is a notorious celebrity chef, the restaurant owner's
wife, difficult diners, undercover food critics – life is hell. Can she
escape? Of course, but read it first.

HIGH TEA (Pocket Books, 2008, 259 pages, $14 US paper covers) is a
first novel by Sandra Harper, who has written a cooking column. She
also wrote a play, "Maggie's Tearoom" which enjoyed a run in Los
Angeles. So it becomes a spinoff from the play. The characters are warm
and informative: a chef, a British expat owner, the waitstaff, and a
restaurant critic from the UK. It's a little like herding cats, but
great fun. Recipes are included at the back (unindexed) and there are
many tea menus.
Okay, this is the hard part since we must pay for our sins of
overeating during the December period. It is January 1, and the start
of a New Year (2009) means new resolutions to keep or break. If you are
really comfortable with your friends, you could give them health books
for the holiday. At least, you might be able to use them yourself!

DIABETES & HEART HEALTHY MEALS FOR TWO; over 150 tasty recipes with
half the work (American Diabetes Association, 2008, 226 pages, $18.95
paper covers) is also issued by the American Heart Association. But
never let the word "diabetes" put you off. We should be living this
diet anyway, even if we are totally healthy. Heart healthy recipes are
best of all for diabetics (as studies show). This is a follow-up to the
successful 2006 book, "Diabetes & Heart Healthy Cookbook". But this
time, it is 150 recipes for two servings. Leftovers are kept to a

THE GLYCEMIC-LOAD DIET COOKBOOK; 150 recipes to help you lose weight
and reverse insulin resistance (McGraw-Hill, 2008, 288 pages, $16.95
paper covers) is a follow-up to the 2006 "Glycemic-Load Diet". Rob
Thompson, MD is back, with new preps co-created with cookbook author
Dana Carpender. Here's a good opportunity to lose weight, cut cravings,
speed up metabolism, and manage insulin resistance. The book has many
tables of GI foods.


Susan said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Edna said...

I have strictly followed my diet plan through Weight Watchers during holidays also & didn't let my weight to raise.