Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Cooking for Mr. Latte...and Me

I have just finished reading Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lover's Courtship, With Recipes by Amanda Hesser. I was in my local gourmet shop a couple of months ago and bought it because it looked fun. Then I forgot about it and only picked it up again this week. I originally thought it was going to be a foodie novel sort of thing, but found instead that is a collection of autobiographical diary entries Amanda Hesser wrote for the New York Times.

The book is completely delightful; fun, light, tender, and chock full of terrific recipes. The writing tells the story of Amanda's romance with Mr. Latte and trying to refine his palate. She tells stories from the kitchens of friends, family, and some restaurants. She talks about food and its place in peoples' lives. She is honest about her annoyance with other peoples' techniques and the trials of sharing kitchen space. For any reader, cook or not, this book is honest, thought-provoking, and laugh out loud funny sometimes.

As each chapter is based on a weekly article, the chapters are best enjoyed individually, to be savored.

I went back and Googled Amanda Hesser after finishing the book and learned more about her writing experience, critics, and that this is truly a non-fiction work, though it reads almost like a novel.

Next I want to go back and try some of the recipes she so generously includes in each chapter.

Grade: A

Get cooking!

This read reminded me of another one I've loved by another New York Times writer, Alex Witchel, who in Girls Only writes of her grown-up New York City life compared to growing up in a suburban Jewish family. While my life could not be more different, her relationships with her mother and sister really struck a chord. As did the honesty in her hotel reviews, glee at Clinique bonus time, and snarky shopping observations. I've re-read this one, so obviously I give it an A.

Your Friendly Librarian

Sunday, December 04, 2005

For Jane Austen Lovers

The newest film adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice has brought her books back into the limelight. I'm not going to give any critique of the film (I haven't seen it), but I always appreciate it when adaptations bring people back to the books. Today my blog entry is actually to celebrate the wonderful list of Pride and Prejudice editions, films, and sequels that has been put together by the Denver Public Library.

I happened across this list on the entry portal to their website (which is wonderful) and was thrilled. I especially enjoy the list of movie adaptations and sequel or inspired bys...I've even read a few of these myself.

The guilty-pleasure sequel that I enjoyed most is Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride and Prejudice Continues. This novel has been slammed by critics and Austen-purists, and I'd slam it myself if it wasn't so fun and satisfying. It's a very sexy follow-up to Pride and Prejudice that examines the class issues that face Lizzie as she becomes the mistress of Pemberly. Mostly, though, it examines how "hot" Lizzie and Mr. Darcy are for each other. If you love these characters and feel like you know them, it's fun to be a fly on the wall as Mr. Darcy loosens his cravat and Lizzie lets down her hair. Are the characters true to those in Austen's novel? Hmmm...decide for yourself.

More information about the film and critiques of the film can be found at:
Rotten Tomatoes (despite the name, Rotten Tomatoes is a round-up of both good and bad reviews)

A great gallery of stills from the film can be found at keiraknightley.com (she's the actress who plays Lizzie Bennett).

There's a nice commentary, including critique of costumes, direction, etc., from those with a moral bent at Christian Spotlight on the Movies.

I had a favorite review from the Washington Post in which the author goes to the movie with his two daughters, both of whom have read the novel, and they discuss and critique elements that vary in the two works. I can't seem to find a link to the article, though! If anyone else has found this online, please let me know! (It was sometime in mid-November, I believe.)

Go out and read your Austen!
Your Friendly Librarian