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Book, Movie, Food

n346955I’m writing today about a book I haven’t read and a movie I haven’t seen. But thing is, I’m excited for both. The Hundred-Foot Journey first caught my attention as a movie trailer filled with feuding restaurants in France, Michelin stars, and Indian cooking. Obviously, I was immediately intrigued. The basic plot, as described by IMBD: “The Kadam family leaves India for France where they open a restaurant directly across the road from Madame Mallory’s Michelin-starred eatery.” Sounds good to me! And when I discovered that this was a movie based on a book, I was even more excited. After hearing great reviews on both the film and the book, I knew I was going to be diving in to both.

See, I love reading about food. The descriptions of foods and their preparations–the smells and textures described in vivid detail–have always inspired me to get in to the kitchen to create the reality of the described experience. Reading about the origins of a dish, or the technique of a chef always makes me more reflective of my own food choices and preparation processes. So, I am excited to read this book. But I’m also excited to see this film.

See, I love watching people cook. I love seeing deft hands chopping, kneading, and grinding to manipulate ingredients. The vivid colors of foods, the distinct textures of ingredients, and the chef’s responses to smells and tastes make me want to recreate those experiences in my own kitchen. I love cooking shows (even Julia Child’s old black-and-white episodes!) because they remind me of why I love to cook. Films surrounding food offer both the excitement of a plot and the opportunity to gawk and drool over dishes that contribute to the story in meaningful and delicious ways.

The_Hundred_Foot_Journey_(film)_posterThe Hundred-Foot Journey gives me the chance to indulge in great food writing and great food on film. I can’t wait to dig in to both!

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Banned Books Week (one week late)

Last week, bookstores, schools, and libraries around the country celebrated Banned Books Week. Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the “freedom to read.” While the idea of censorship may seem antiquated, more than 11,300 books have been challenged in the United States since the first Banned Books Week in 1982. You can learn more about frequently challenged books on the American Library Association’s website. Some challenges to books are exasperating. Others are alarming.

Take, for instance, what happened in Arizona. In 2010, a state law was passed that resulted in the banning, not only of books, but of an entire school curriculum. The law stated,BBW_vert_banner2

“A school district or charter school in this state shall not include in its program of instruction any courses or classes that include any of the following:

1.  Promote the overthrow of the United States government.
2.  Promote resentment toward a race or class of people.
3.  Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.
4.  Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.”

Following this legislation, the Tucson Unified School District dismantled its widely praised Mexican-American Studies program. In dismantling the program, officials removed hundreds of curriculum materials from schools and classrooms. Among the removed materials were books, including Rethinking Columbus: The next 500 years, Critical race theory, and Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  In 2013, following years of community protests and national outcry, the school district voted to un-ban several of the removed books.

Challenges to what we read and, consequently, censorship of what we think, persist. The antidote? Go ahead. Read. Encourage others to do the same. Don’t let anyone stop you.

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Style by the Book – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

daughter smoke bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the first in a trilogy written by Laini Taylor. The story introduces a world in which chimera and angels are trapped in a neverending war. Karou, a human teenage girl raised by chimera, struggles with her identity and mysterious past. She lives on earth, unaware of the feud that lurks just beyond in another world, running errands fetching teeth for her loving, but secretive chimera father. The story is unique and well-written with vibrant characters full of personality. As with many trilogies, the third book falls a little flat compared to the first two, but this series is still worth reading. For this Style by the Book, I decided to focus on Karou, and her best friend, Zusana. Feisty, loyal Zusana is easily my favorite character in the book.

Karou

 

Zuzana

 

Do you have a favorite book that you want to see featured on Style by the Book? Share your suggestions in the comments!

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Style by the Book – Anne of Green Gables

I grew up adoring the 1980s Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea TV mini-series. In my opinion, Megan Follows will forever be the perfect Anne Shirley. As a child it was a treat to catch it on my local PBS station (and luck… this was before the days of channel guides and DVR) and as an adult it’s my sick-day movie and never fails to comfort me. It wasn’t until much later in life that I read my way through L.M. Montgomery’s series starring the spirited Anne Shirley. As the book and mini-series can’t really be separated in my mind, this Style by the Book is inspired by both.

Anne of Green Gables

Want more Anne Shirley? The Library has Anne of Green Gables (J M76a) available in print and The Complete Chronicles of Avonlea as an e-book!

Do you have a favorite book that you want to see featured on Style by the Book? Share your suggestions in the comments!

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A Gourmet E-book

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Eat like Don Quixote!

Writing for this blog has allowed me to explore many different instances of meals in books–but I am not the first (nor do I suspect, the last) to tackle this tasty literary project. Available as an E-book through the Wheelock library, The Literary Gourmet: Menus From Masterpieces takes on the task of creating menus based on passages in famous books, from the Bible, to Don Quixote, to The Importance of Being Earnest.

The author, Linda Wolfe, provides a brief synopsis of the story, then excerpts a scene from each book in which the selected food appears. She then creates a menu with the help of historical resources–relying on varied sources such as Biblical encyclopedias for the Red Pottage of Lentils, or two women’s conflicting chowder recipes from the 1800s to reflect New England Clam Chowder as it was known in the time of Moby Dick and as it is recognized now.

There are entrees, starters and desserts (who knew The Legend of Sleepy Hollow betrayed such a sweet tooth!) so you can create an entire meal spanning some of the world’s most famous works of literature. My only criticism of this book is that it could stand to broaden the diversity of authors to include women and people of color. Perhaps, inspired by this delicious text, one of you, readers, will take up that task!

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