Monday, July 27, 2009

after a long wait, a wonderful book

A friend at church recommended that I read "The latehomecomer: a Hmong family memoir" by Kao Kalia Yang, a Minnesota Book Award winner which she had really enjoyed reading. I requested the book once I got back to the library and, after a long, long wait, I finally got the book last week. I had to finish "Backstage with Julia: my years with Julia Child" by Nancy Verde Barr (I was doing my background reading before seeing the movie with the glorious Meryl Streep) so I finally got to start it over the weekend.

I was a little unsure if I would like it after reading the prologue (I was very put off by the writing style used), but once I started the actual story, I was hooked. Ms. Yang's parents were born in Laos and were newly married when the Laotian government decided to kill all of the Hmong people. They lived in the jungle with her father's family, running from the soldiers, constantly hungry and fearing for their lives. Under gunfire, the family, excluding one uncle and his family, escaped to Thailand and a U.N.-operated refuge camp. The story continues through their stay in the camp and their move to the United States.

Ms. Yang's writing is beautiful--I feel like I am there, a part of the story. Again, I am so grateful for my life of ease and plenty. I am also thankful that Ms. Yang has chosen to share her story for it is definitely worth reading.

Monday, July 6, 2009

huge crush (I mean HUGE)

I love cooking programs. If I had cable TV, I'd be nose to the screen with Food-TV all day long. Mercifully, TPT has a station that show cooking programs every evening from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. I allow myself complete slugdom on Tuesday evening and watch all of the programs. Heaven. My absolute favorite is the glorious Jacques Pepin. I wouldn't eat anything he prepares (when you look up "fussy eater," it says Carol the Reader) but I love to watch him cook, look at him and listen to that lovely French accent. Sigh....

I have now read several chapters of Katherine Darling's Under the table: saucy tales from culinary school, Ms. Darling's memoir/expose/whine about attending Jacques Pepin's French Culinary Institute in New York City. I am living her adventures from the comfort of my newly-mattressed bed (I feel like I'm staying in a hotel since the bed just doesn't feel like it's mine yet), happy to not be swathed in a polyester uniform (you know, the checked pants, long-sleeved and high-collared jacket and the neckerchief) in an un-air-conditioned kitchen. I've read about poaching eggs, making omelets and all things egg--each student is given 3 dozen eggs at the beginning of the session and must produce a perfect example of each cooked form of egg (imperfect samples are gulped down before the teacher notices and comments on the failure). I would imagine that learning to perfect a recipe would put you off eating it for a long, long time.

So far, she hasn't said anything to burst my bubble about Monsieur Pepin--heaven help her if she does!

(This weekend (I was under the weather so reading was the perfect activity) was a bonanza of wonderful reading: I finished The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, the companion book to Shadow of the Wind which is one of my all-time favorites. A fabulous read. I'm also well along in Home Safe written by Elizabeth Berg, my favorite grown-up author. She hooks me from the first word and I love and care for her characters and her words--there are always little phrases to savor and remember. Plus I read an entire issue of Vanity Fair magazine!)