August 7, 2015
Book Reviews from Ann Tudor
1) Ethelind Fearon. The Reluctant Hostess. London: Vintage Books, 2015. Originally published by Herbert Jenkins Ltd., 1954. 129p. illus. $18.99 Cdn. ISBN 9781784870300.
First published in 1954, this is a quasi-serious, quasi-hilarious compendium of hints and rules and suggestions for entertaining. Among the eight chapters are "The Three R's: Running Repairs and Routine" and "Some Ghastly Games," and the irreverence of the titles gives us an idea of the author's sense of humour. And yet, beyond the horror of what passed for edible in the 1950s, there are some very apt suggestions for party-giving. I was particularly taken by the emergency solutions provided in "The Three R's": how to remove an airblock from the hot water system; how to refresh black lace (this involves a 12-hour tea soak, gum Arabic, and a thornbush); a homemade glue for mending china; how to clean decanters—and diamonds; how to dispel flies (involves pieces of sponge and lavender oil); escaping gas (do not look for it with a match); how to cool a hot room quickly (dip blankets in water... ); how to mend a rubber raincoat (you'll need a soft rubber eraser and an egg–cup of naphtha). It's the combination of practical and just plain weird that makes this book a delight. Highly recommended for its entertainment value at least as much as its helpful hints for entertaining.
2) Ruth Reichl. Delicious! New York: Appetite by Random House, 2014. 396p. $19.95pa.Cdn. ISBN 978-0-449-01652-7.
Who knew Ruth Reichl was a novelist? We've loved her memoirs over the past years (Comfort Me with Apples; Tender at the Bone), but now we can recognize her gifts as a novelist. The heroine of her new novel, newly hired at Delicious!, a premier food magazine, finds her place in the wide world of food even as she tries to conceal (for mysterious reasons) her own expertise as a cook. Every paragraph entices the reader with vivid descriptions of the aromas and tastes created by the book's characters who love—who live for—food and cooking. An exciting, well-plotted read.
More details are at Ann Tudor's blog: http://www.fastandfearlesscooking.com/#!home/c1yuo