Recommended Books

February 10th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Does HG do anything but eat, drink, think about food, write about food, reminisce about food and plan future travel/dining adventures? Yes. HG swims an hour a day. HG strolls in the meadows surrounding his New Mexico home; HG builds a nightly blaze in the fireplace, visits BSK in her art/pottery studio, listens to chamber music (namely Mozart, Bach and Beethoven). And, HG reads. Obligatory periodicals: New Yorker, New York, Economist, New York Review of Books, Vanity Fair, World of Interiors, Saveur, Bon Appetit, Santa Fe New Mexican, New York Times (online). And, non-fiction books. For some obscure reason, HG shuns fiction. Two recently read books HG recommends: Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan and Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century by Tony Judt. A critic summed up “Zealot” accurately: “Aslan rips Jesus out of all the contexts we thought he belonged in and holds him forth as someone entirely new. This is Jesus as a passionate Jew, a violent revolutionary, a fanatical ideologue, an odd and scary and extraordinarily interesting man.” Judt’s book Is a searching analysis of many things: Marxism, evil, history, foreign policy, Israel, the role of intellectuals. Judt (he died a few years ago, tragically too early, of Lou Gehrig’s disease) was a historian and thinker of great insight and uncompromising moral rigor. His landmark book, Postwar, an account of Europe’s recovery from the horrors and wreckage of World War Two, is obligatory reading if you wish to understand the troubled world we live in.


The Best Food Book In Creation

May 30th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink, is an anthology from the pages of New Yorker Magazine and edited by David Remnick. In HG’s opinion, it is the best food book ever created. There are articles that will make you hungry (A.J. Liebling on the Paris restaurants of his youth; Joseph Mitchell on the old New York steak dinner or “beefsteak”; Joseph Wechsberg on French chef Fernand Point). Some will make you think (Adam Gopnik on French cuisine). Some will make you laugh (Calvin Trillin, Ogden Nash, Steve Martin, Dorothy Parker, Woody Allen and S.J. Perelman). Some may make you weep (Alice McDermott’s bittersweet fiction, “Enough,” on the varieties of appetite and desire). And, there’s one that may make you queasy. HG refers to “A Rat In My Soup” by Peter Hessler. The intrepid author visits Luogang, China, where two restaurants, The Highest Ranking Wild Flavor Restaurant and the New Eight Sceneries Wild Flavor Food City specialize in rat (yes, some tasty cat and snake dishes are also available). Hessler dines on Simmered Mountain Rat With Black Beans and Spicy and Salty Mountain Rat. He discovers, no surprise, that rat really isn’t very tasty. Anyway, “Secret Ingredients” is savory fare, indeed

Bedtime Book

January 31st, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

HG has long been a fan of the writer James Salter. Though he has written many books, scores of excellent short stories, screenplays, searching criticism (he recently did a beautifully objective appreciation of Ernest Hemingway’s achievement for the New York Review of Books), he has never been very well known. He has received many awards and honors and been described as a “writer’s writer.” An aviator and fighter pilot (combat during the Korean War), no one has ever written better about flying. He also writes very well about food. For bedtime reading, there is nothing better than the book he wrote with his wife, Kay: Life Is Meals: A Food Lover’s Book Of Days. There are 365 brief essays (one for each day of the year) in this beautifully illustrated volume (published by Knopf). James and Kay Salter are a wonderfully civilized couple without an ounce of pretension but much erudition. There are some nice recipes and acute observations about people, places, art, history and, of course, food and dining. The perfect book for a bedtime browse.

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