Feature

Also of interest...in foodie adventures

Blue Plate Special; The Telling Room; On the Noodle Road; Gaining Ground

Blue Plate Special
by Kate Christensen (Doubleday, $27)
“The food in Kate Christensen’s novels has never been a mere prop,” said Bliss Broyard in Elle. It “provides the vital thread” for her memoir, since the joys of cooking helped her weather dark times. She recalls those traumatic moments, including childhood abuse and molestation, “in a blunt, matter-of-fact style that can feel oddly bland by comparison.” When she returns to writing about food, on the other hand, her “keen observations and intelligence” shine through.

The Telling Room by Michael Paterniti (Dial, $27)
The quirky Spanish cheese-maker at the center of this book “lives the life every desk jockey and poet has dreamed of,” said Ben Frederick in CSMonitor.com. Journalist Michael Paterniti chronicles the quixotic quest of Ambrosio Molinos to continue his family’s generations-old tradition of producing cave-aged sheep’s milk cheese. It would have been so easy for Paterniti to lose readers through his digressions and asides. Yet in his “amazingly well-crafted story,” it all comes back to the cheese.

On the Noodle Road
by Jen Lin-Liu (Riverhead, $28)
The origins of the humble noodle are “shrouded in enough mystery to inspire the next Dan Brown novel,” said Stephan Lee in Entertainment Weekly. Writer and chef Jen Lin-Liu traveled the Silk Road to trace the history of pasta, visiting kitchens in China, Iran, Turkey, and Italy along the way. The question of whether spaghetti came before lo mein becomes secondary to Lin-Liu’s journey, and insights into the societies she encounters are served up with “generous helpings of detail and humor.”

Gaining Ground
by Forrest Pritchard (Lyons Press, $19)
Forrest Pritchard has written “a kind of Pilgrim’s Progress for the farmers market age,” said Russ Parsons in the Los Angeles Times. In 1996, the unemployed former English major decided to try and save his family’s small farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Though he peppers his tale with “funny stories of country life and of city folks adapting to rusticity,” Pritchard ultimately learns to put some of his romantic notions of sustainable agriculture aside and focus on making it profitable.

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