Food historian Sarah Lohman teaches, recreates historical meals, and researches American food. She covers eight flavors that highlight the history of American cuisine, omitting the too-popular coffee and chocolate. While I would have been more enthusiastic about a chapter on chocolate than one on MSG, the chapters on each flavor are interesting reading. Foodies and American history buffs are sure to enjoy reading about black pepper, vanilla, chili powder, curry powder, soy sauce, monosodium glutamate, sriracha and current food trends. Each chapter has a personal anecdote, most cover a historical figure, a few recipes and descriptions of her travels to restaurants, food trucks, festivals, museums, archives, plantations, farms, or factories to learn more about the flavor. Immigrants played significant roles in the introduction and widespread use of various ingredients, such as soy sauce, garlic, and sriracha sauce. This book was published in December, 2016, so I was interested to read the chapter on current food trends. The predictions that pumpkin spice and matcha or green tea flavoring would be popular are pretty accurate, although other recent trends might have surprised her, such as chocolate hummus.
Happy reading, and let me know if you try any of the recipes, such as black pepper-chocolate ganache or carrot cake with garlic.
The Paris Diversion by Chris Pavone
This sequel to The Expats is pure adrenaline, taking place over a single day in Paris. Sirens and bomb threats put CIA agent Kate Moore on high alert after dropping her kids off at school on the day of a birthday party. When a tech CEO goes missing, and her husband Dexter is questioned by the police, Kate wonders if their nemesis from Belgium is behind the terror threats. Great, twisty plot and intensifying pace make for a quick, heart-pounding read.
I enjoyed this combination of history, technology and biography which describes the advances in precision engineering that keep our technology running smoothly, at least most of the time. Chapters on clocks, lenses, guns, jet engines, and computer chips are introduced with anecdotes and short biographical sketches of inventors and engineers. The importance of precision is highlighted by a near catastrophic jet engine failure and the blurry images of the new Hubble Space Telescope. Highlights include the contrast between luxurious Rolls Royce automobiles and the assembly line turning out Ford Model Ts, along with the discovery that in Japan, Seiko still makes some watches by hand. While not a fast read, this book will please the author’s many fans. Simon Winchester, a geologist and journalist, has written about the Oxford English Dictionary, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, weather, and the Yangtze River.
An intriguing mystery set in Alexandria, Egypt, in 47 B.C. A shipment of new coins is stolen from a cargo ship during a fire in the harbor and then the investigator, Cleopatra’s Eye, is killed. Merchant Tetisheri, Cleopatra’s childhood friend, is chosen to solve both mysteries. Class differences between the Romans, The Greek Alexandrians, and the native Egyptians make for interesting politics. After a slow start mainly due to unfamiliar place and character names, the pacing and suspense keep building, making for an engaging read. Cleopatra, pregnant with Julius Caesar’s child, is enigmatic and swift to take vengeance as needed. Cleopatra’s brother and co-ruler is one of Tetisheri’s obstacles in solving the crimes, as is her nasty ex-husband. First in a new series by the author of the bestselling Kate Shugak Alaskan mysteries, I look forward to the next case that Tetisheri is asked to solve. The setting of ancient Alexandria comes to life, and the gorgeous book jacket adds to the reading experience. And for fans of Kate, another Alaskan mystery is being written.
The author of Between You & Me has another fascinating memoir in which she reveals her love of Greek language, classical Greek literature, and describes her travels in Greece and Cyprus. Mary, a copy editor at The New Yorker, is excellent company, and while I’m not interested in learning to read Greek, her travels in Greece make a trip there sound very appealing. A very good choice for armchair travelers, history buffs, and anyone interested in reading about Greek mythology or drama.
I loved the beautiful setting of this Regency-era English mystery, and the ability to easily start this series at book six. After a war wound received at Waterloo becomes infected, Sir Robert Kurland and his wife Lucy rent a house in Bath so that Robert can enjoy the healing properties of the Roman baths. Bringing Lucy’s sister Ann, their doctor Fletcher and his pregnant wife Penelope, it’s a lively household. Lucy and Robert get to know the mismatched couple next door, Sir William Benson, an older man from Yorkshire who spends time at the baths with Robert, and his younger, beautiful wife. When William dies suddenly, suspicion falls on his sons and stepsons, especially when his will can’t be found. After a second suspicious death next door, amateur sleuths Lucy and Robert work together to uncover the truth. Colorful characters and a clever plot make me want to spend more time with Robert and Lucy, who first appear in Death Comes to the Village. This novel is a good readalike for the Stephanie Barron mystery series featuring Jane Austen as an amateur sleuth.
The Tuesday Evening Book Group will meet at 7:00 p.m. on March 26 to discuss This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel. This is a contemporary novel about a family with five boys and how they cope when their youngest child wants to wear a dress and sparkly barrettes to kindergarten. Heart-warming, funny, and thought-provoking: here’s my earlier review.
The Crime Readers will meet at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 21 at Home Run Inn Pizza in Darien to discuss Grave Undertakings by Ralph McInerny. Optional dinner is at 6:00 p.m. The Crime Readers are co-sponsored by the Indian Prairie Public Library.
Copies of the books are available now at the Circulation Desk.