Browsing: Good Movies and Reads



I think that food is fascinating.  The is there the art of food, of which we are well aware, and the history of food and the science of food.  Food as an analogy is perhaps the most fascinating to me of all.  I am currently reading a novel entitled “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake”  by Aimee Bender which is a haunting tale of a nine year old’s discovery that she can taste the emotions of the person who has prepared the food that she is consuming. 

In this theme, I have found a poem that is short enough to reproduce here.  It is penned by a writer named Joyce Rupp. 

can it be?

have I forgotten so long

forgotten to feed myself?


for nigh a year now

I was slowly starving.

getting lost in busy days,

tossing aside the hunger

that chewed away inside.

yet, I did not die.

by some quiet miracle

I made it to this moment

of truth:

I nearly starnved to death,

it was not my body

that I failed to feed.

it was my spirit,

left alone for days

without nourishment or care.

and then one day

I paused to look within,

shocked at what I found:

so thin of faith,

so weak of understanding,

so needy of encouragment.

my starving spirit cried the truth:

I can!

I will!

I must

be fed!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society


This lovely novel was penned by Mary Ann Shaffer who was assisted by her niece Annie Brrows when her health began to fail. Sadly, Mary Ann died before her first novel was published.

First off, my radar immediately seeks out books with a food theme included in the title.  This novel is not quite so food thematic as some of my favourites (Like water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel and Chocolat by Joanne Harris), but held some very delicious imagery.  “So refreshments became part of our program.  Since there was scant butter, (referring to a time during World Warr II) less flour and no sugar to spare on Guernsey then, Will concocted a potato peel pie: mashed potatoes for filling, strained beets for sweetness and potato peelings for crust.” 

Secondly, it is an epistolary novel and I have a soft spot for those. I kind of think of them as the blogs of the literary world and it they make me feel like I’m reading and snooping in someone’s life with their permission.

Thirdly, I thoroughly related to the heroine of the story: “In every nook I find things that tell me about her.  She was a noticer, Sydney, like me, for all the shelves were lined with shells, bird feathers, dried sea grasses, pebbles, eggshells and the skeleton of something that might be a bat.  They were just bits that were lying on the ground that anyone else would step over or on but she saw that they were beautiful and brought them home.”

The story is primarily about little snippets of every day life and that too holds a fondness for me.  This is why I am so enthralled by the novels of Jan Caron and Alexander McCall Smith. 

And finally, I loved the book because of what it was all about-

the courage to hope…to love and… to hope to love.

Kath’s quote: “The potato, like man, was not meant to dwell alone.”-Shila Hibben”

“Four Seasons in Rome” by Anthony Doerr


“You are never alone if you have a good book.” so said by my maternal Grandfather.  The love of reading was passed along to me through my Mom.  I would be embarrassed to bring kids home after school because the house would be a mess and my Mom would be there with her nose in a book.  But now I look back and think-I turned out pretty well in spite of being raised in an untidy house but where would I be without my books?  My habit is so excessive that I have to read library books as I could never support my habit financially or with the space to store them.  I often read two books of fiction a week and have another of non-fiction on the go as well. 

I am just about finished a non-fiction account of a writer raising twin newborns in Rome where he and his wife are on a study grant. “Four Seasons in Rome” by Anthony Doerr combines many of my loves in one tidy packet-the written word, apartments with balconies and green shutters,  BABIES and the most amazing food!

This is his account of shopping for fresh produce:  “The vegetable stand we buy from is isolated in a little convergence of alleys in between the hardware store and the bakery, called Largo Luigi Micelli.  The sisters who run it are stubby-fingered and wear gumboots.  “Buongiorno,” they say, every time we arrive.  “Dimmi.”  Tell me.

Most days a son helps them, eager and grave in his apron, periodically bringing a hand to his upper lip to confirm the existence of his downy mustache.  The three of them educate me in winter produce: one type of cauliflower white as cotton, another purple as dusk; sheaves of young leeks with mud still packed in their roots; basins of squash; tiny, spherical potatoes like miniature moons.  Frost, they say adds flavour to the leaves of kale; winter radicchio should be brushed with oil and grilled on warm coals.  There is fennel, in bright, reedy piles.  Crinkly, soft cabbages.  Mountains of radishes.  There are eggplants in rows and eggplants in heaps; indigo, violet blue, some so purple they are black.

The leeks are bundled like debarked, nascent trees; the red-leaf lettuces are aloof and silent; they burn like torch flames.  Especially in wet weather the market is luminous.: the air slightly smoky, the stalls seemingly huddled together against the chill, the emerald piles of spinach, the orange pyramids of carrots, a dozen tattered umbrellas gleaming with beads of rain. ”

Ah the markets of Italy….. 

Kath’s quote:  “There are two Italies…. The one is the most sublime and lovely contemplation that can be conceived by the imagination of man; the other is the most degraded, disgusting, and odious. What do you think? Young women of rank actually eat — you will never guess what — garlick! Our poor friend Lord Byron is quite corrupted by living among these people, and in fact, is going on in a way not worthy of him.”-Percy Bysshe Shelley in a letter from Naples (1818)

tutto cio serve e amore

PS I finished the book late last night and came upon this:

      “When we eat it is like a poem.  Blown campenalla (ruffled edge pasta) with local sheep’s milk cheese, topped with Parmesan and black truffle fondue; Spoleto-style trengozzi (to call these dumplings is akin to calling a Rolls-Royce a golf cart) with tomatoes, peperoncino, pecorino cheese, and parsley;  the loin of a Valerina piglet in a pecorino, pear and Montefalco red-wine sauce; and a hot, wet chocolate flan smothered with orange cream.  

      We close our eyes; we slide the forks out of our mouth’s.  “It’s ridiculous,” Shauna says.”

Love Letters


D and I met when he was a 14 year old bus boy and I was a hostess/cocktail server (read: older).  But in the years in between our initial friendship and eventual courtship, D moved away a couple of times.  We became reacquainted between his first and second year of studies in Hospitality at Ryerson University in TO.  In those days long distance telephone calls were expensive and emailing, texting and skype did not exist at all and so snail mail became our significant link.  D and I still write each other letters to this day-we slip them under pillows and into carry on bags to surprize each other when we are apart.

I have always had a fondness for literature that adapted letter collections as their literary format.  I am especially enthralled by the inferences that fill in the gaps between the arrival of a letter from one correspondent to the reply by the other.  Last evening I finished a novel entitled The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel.  They had me at the dedication: “To our mothers and fathers, who taught us how to cook and how to love.” 

In the end I would say that there was less about cooking than I would have liked but the rules of their “club” (of two) was that they sent a recipe in each of their posted letters.  The recipes were traditional ones that were already in my repertoire so it meant that I could skip the recipe pages and complete the book in half the time.  But here is one the particularly struck me-not so much for the ingredients themselves but this explanation: “I’m giving up on hearing from you, but I can’t, I won’t let you go.  To send you more words feels meaningless and hollow.  So I’m sending you a recipe instead.  It’s something I know you’ll love.  It uses olives-an ancient symbol of faithfulness, patience, and peace.”

Forgiveness Tapenade

I c pitted olives, finely chopped

3 T olive oil

1 T capers

freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 a lemon

3 garlic gloves, finely chopped

5 anchovy fillets

black pepper

Combine all of the tapenade ingredients in a blender and whir until smooth.

Kath’s quote: “The whole Mediterranean … the wine, the ideas … seems to ride in the sour pungent taste of those black olives … A taste older than meat, older than wine. A taste as old as cold water.”-Lawrence Durrell

love so amazing

Croissants anyone?


I am “traditionally” built as coined by one of my favourite authors about his fictional character- Precious Ramotswe.  I have found myself a bit too busy these last couple of weeks for my Zumba class and my Stretch and Strengthen class is done until after Christmas.  I was approaching holiday eating with guilt and hesitation when Sister #3 sent me this yesterday:

” This woman is 51.  She is a TV health guruadvocating a holistic approach to nutrition and ill health, promoting exercise, a pescetarian diet high in organic fruits and vegetables. She recommends detox diets, colonic irrigation and supplements, also making statements that yeast is harmful, that the colour of food is nutritionally significant, and about the utility of lingual and fecal examination.

This woman is 50.  She is a TV cook, who eats nothing but meat, butter and desserts, washed down with lots of wine.  So forget eating more celery.  This Christmas, it’s food and red wine all the way.”

PS I had a chocolate croissant for breakfast….. 

Kath’s quote:  “You may feel that you have eaten too much…But this pastry is like feathers – it is like snow. It is in fact good for you, a digestive!”-M.F.K. Fisher

love indulgently

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