Wrap It Up. August 16 2013.

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It’s Friday afternoon and the weather has been seven shades of gorgeous for the past few days.  This weekend, I’m off to DC to visit some friends, go for a nice long hike, and hopefully eat and imbibe many delicious things.  What are YOU doing?

Some things:

Eid, the last day of Ramadan, was this week and our office celebrated with a Middle Eastern feast, complete with live musicians.  The flavors, the spicing, and the general luscious smell that hung in the air for most of the day made me just want more.  I ran into The Pomegranate Diaries, and feel the need to try everything especially the Adas Polow, the Persian version of lentils and rice.  You know I love lentils and rice.

I’ve had four burgers in the past two weeks.  They were delicious but I feel terrible about it.  Thisthisthis, and this.

“It’s possible to obey all laws & conventions & still be a jerk. Success lies in rebellious love, unconventional kindness & defiant decency.”  Love that Cory Booker.  (Did you catch The Atlantic article about him?  I super love the idea of having ideological capital.

The National.  Underrated.

Happy weekend!

Love,

Grace

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Bloody & Burger at Prune

After work last night, I stopped by Prune with a friend to check out their newly revived Bloody & Burger deal.  For one crisp $20, on Sundays through Mondays between 5:30 and 7 PM, they hand over an expertly made Bloody Mary and one of their fantastically decadent burgers.

Bloody.

Bloody.  Check!

Burger.

Burger. Check!  (Yes, it looks to be on the smaller side, but is incredibly rich and flavor packed.  You will not go hungry.)

Marrow.

Roasted Marrow Bones.  (What?!?)  We couldn’t resist.  Marrow was being served all around us, and it was too intriguing.  If you haven’t had marrow before, I think it can be best described as meat butter.  Meat. Butter. Meatbutter.  At Prune, the meatbutter is served with toast, grey sea salt, and a much needed side of de-clogging parsley salad.  If you’re being a rational human being, a burger plus marrow equals waaaayyyyyy too much cow.  I could feel my arteries slowly solidifying, and cow-ness coming from my pores.

And then I washed my hands and went to a yoga studio.

The End.

Best of the Food Memoirs

Food Books at Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks

I will read any food memoir.  Want to talk about making more bread than anyone should?  Growing up in India?  Shucking oysters?  Your mom’s terrible cooking?  Rendering duck fat?  Tell me a story.  Right now.  I’m there, I’ll pull up a chair, read it cover to cover, and enjoy every second of it.  (Unless you are one of three books.  These annoyed me.)

Yes, it’s because I’m obsessed with food, but it’s also because the best food memoirs take love, food, inspiration, adventure, travel, and maybe a well-earned life lesson or two, and emphatically smash it all into a glorious literary meatball. (Subtle food reference!)  Food memoirs are comforting proof to me that food and life are inextricably intertwined, and that all of it is accidental, messy, and should be consumed in the greediest of manners.

These following, in no particular order, are my favorites of the genre.  Some of them made me cry in embarrassing places.  And by places, I mean locations.

My Life in France

My Life in France (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Life In France / Julia Child (A lot at the end, but mostly at home.)

This woman was just extraordinary – a trailblazing, fearless, and huggable giantess that changed the food landscape of America and redefined what it meant to be a woman in the post War era.   My absolute favorite thing about this book is the completely  offhand way she talks about the incredibly ballsy things that she does.  She makes having top security clearance at the OSS (the pre-CIA), being the only woman cooking at the Cordon Bleu, and writing what would become Mastering the Art of French Cooking seem like the most simple, logical thing to do.  Like, oh, that?  Not a big deal.  Her keen intelligence, her curiosity and her plain, good spirit come through every page, and made me wish desperately that we could be friends.

Cover of "Tender at the Bone: Growing Up ...

Cover via Amazon

Tender At the Bone / Ruth Reichl (Three cries)

I love all of Ruth Reichl’s writing.  Her books are ostensibly about her life, this one about growing up in an unconventional household with an erratic but well-intentioned mother, first in New York and then California.  Food, and her evolving relationship to it, is not so much spelled out but reads as a constant background hum to her life.   This is her first book, followed by Comfort Me With Apples and Garlic and Sapphires.  (Also, I totally remember my mom reading this book in English and loving it.  English is her second language and she only really reads short stories.

Blood Bones and Butter / Gabrielle Hamilton (Three cries)

This book made me cry so much.  First chapter, and then another few times later on. True story.  I loved the directness and honesty of her story, how unflinchingly she tells about the times her parents abandoned (forgot!?) about her and her siblings in the woods, their deteriorating marriage, her deteriorating marriage, and eventually, the opening of her restaurant Prune.  Food for her is the backbone, the milestones and the sustenance all rolled into one, and she is the everywoman who has erred, been wronged and has dusted herself off just one more time.

Cover of "The Apprentice: My Life In The ...

Cover of The Apprentice: My Life In The Kitchen

The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen /Jacques Pepin

Jacques Pepin.  Just freaking adorable.  Jacques Pepin’s experience as a classically trained chef is fascinating in itself, for those of us not in the restaurant world.  That, along with his inexhaustible work ethic, lack of pretensions and straightforward charm and kindness make this memoir the cosiest and sweetest of reads.  Also, it’s living color proof that cool people find their way to other cool people.  Julia Child and Jacques, besides being great friends, quietly bickered and cooked through 22 episodes of public television television together.

Yes, Chef / Marcus Samuelsson and Veronica Chambers (Two cries)

Another cryfest.  The first chapter had me tearing up behind my sunglasses in a very public place.  Food is family, no matter how unconventional and sprawling your family tree is.  Born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden and belonging wholeheartedly to New York City, Marcus Samuelsson’s take on food is as wide-ranging as his experiences have been.  Threaded throughout his book is a sense of social consciousness, sensitivity to social responsibility, and an unadulterated sense of idealism that I think is very much representative of his (our) generation.  Food is the great leveler and a connector, and the difference we make in the world is not about the job that we do but the spirit that we do it in.

What do you think? Any glaring omissions, dear Readers?  Set me straight!

P.S.  These were also great: Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper / Fuchsia Dunlop,  Climbing the Mango Tree / Madhur Jaffrey and Kitchen Confidential / Anthony Bourdain.

P.P.S.  If you haven’t checked out Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, where the photo above was taken, you really, really should.  Her hours change from week to week, so calling ahead is good protocol.

P.P.P.S.  I’m also slowly combing my way through this list by The Literary Foodie and this list on Goodreads.

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