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review 2017-11-02 21:30
Mulch Ado about Murder (Local Foods Mystery) - Edith Maxwell

Spring has arrived in Westbury, Massachusetts and it finds organic farmer Cam Flaherty dealing with her parents unexpected visit and worrying about her crops. While making a flat delivery Cam discovers the body of Nicole Kingsbury,the owner of the new hydroponics greenhouse. One of the suspects in the murder is Cam's own mother Deb who was leading a protest against the greenhouse that morning and was seen inside the greenhouse. With the help of her father Will Cam finds herself helping with the investigation to clear her mother;s name. I got an advanced copy of this book from netgalley.com

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review 2016-06-13 00:00
Christmas at Downton: Holiday Foods and Traditions From The Unofficial Guide to Downton Abbey (Downton Abbey Books)
Christmas at Downton: Holiday Foods and Traditions From The Unofficial Guide to Downton Abbey (Downton Abbey Books) - Elizabeth Fellow Enjoyed this cookbook, there are recipes I look forward to making. Nice tie in to the show.
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review 2015-11-29 04:00
Delicious Foods
Delicious Foods - James Hannaham

I just saw today that this book made the New York Times' list of 100 notable books of 2015.

 

And I agree. Hannaham manages to include many current issues: corporate agriculture, drug addiction, illegal and immoral labor practices, racism, grief, modern slavery, and single parenting.

Eddie's mother Darlene gives in to drug addiction in her extreme grief after her husband's murder. As she struggles to raise and support her son--and ten support her addiction--she grows desperate. An offer of an amazing agricultural job leaves her virtually enslaved and in debt to the company. As young Eddie tries to find his mom, she continues to struggle with grief, addiction, and her own feelings of worthlessness.

 

Meanwhile, during the same time period, Eddie has tried to understand what happened to his father, what happened to his mother's relationship with her sister Bethella, what his mother's addiction is and means, and what to do as an "abandoned" child with little help. He also learns about trust--though not the trust most children learn, as he discovers he really cannot trust his mother, though she does intend her best, even if she cannot deliver.

 

It is Bethella who comes though for him, as well as the strangers/family he met while at Delicious Foods.

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review 2015-06-06 18:53
Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy! (manga) by Fumi Yoshinaga, translated by William Flanagan
Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy! - Fumi Yoshinaga,William Flanagan

Although I generally enjoy Yoshinaga's works, I dragged my feet over getting this one. I didn't think a restaurant guide/slice-of-life manga featuring restaurants I'd never be able to visit would work very well for me. I ended up buying this during a moment of weakness and a nice Right Stuf sale.

The manga starts with a disclaimer: “This story is a work of fiction. Any similarities to actual persons is purely coincidental. But all of the restaurants in this book are real.” It felt a bit odd, considering that the volume's main character is a foodie named F-mi Y-naga, “who makes her living by drawing men engaging in anal sex" (7). Which sounds awfully similar to Fumi Yoshinaga, if you focus primarily on a certain portion of her work.

Anyway, Y-naga spends most of her time working and likes to unwind by eating delicious foods. Her newest assignment involves introducing restaurants to readers, which gives her an excuse to eat out even more. Along the way, we meet various people she knows. Her current roommate is S-hara, a guy who ended up becoming her assistant because he couldn't get any other work. M-waki is a sweets fanatic who was Y-naga's roommate before S-hara. F-yama is Y-naga's foodie friend, and also her secret (sort of) crush. T-i is a guy who loves eating meat. The list goes on – there are a bunch more people who make brief appearances.

The structure of the volume is pretty simple: two or more people (usually Y-naga and someone else) have a reason to go out to eat, and so they do. Everybody talks about how good the food is and tries to describe what it is that makes it so good. Each chapter focuses on a single restaurant and ends with a page of information about that restaurant: its address, phone number, hours, directions, and parking availability. Yoshinaga also notes how much you should budget for and includes a few other comments about things she didn't have a chance to mention in the manga.

While this was a nice enough volume, I vastly prefer Yoshinaga's What Did You Eat Yesterday? and Antique Bakery. Both of these series include wonderful meals and desserts, as well as characters with complex and interesting relationships. In Not Love But Delicious Foods (etc.), the focus was more on the food than on anything else. Some people showed up for a single chapter and then were never seen or spoken of again. Also, by the end of the volume, everybody was basically in the same place they were when the volume started. Pretty much the only thing that changed was Y-naga and S-hara's living arrangements, which somehow managed to have no effect on anything else. I'm still wondering how S-hara could ever afford to eat out.

It wasn't uncommon for the various meals to make me feel hungry, even when I had no clue what they might possibly taste like. My favorite restaurant out of the bunch was probably Chinese Chakan Restaurant #2 – the illustrations and descriptions made my mouth water. That said, I do think the food and restaurant aspects of this manga could have been better. Chapter 4, which focused on the restaurant Sushi Tanaka, was probably the worst. The illustrations were so small and dark that I sometimes had trouble figuring out what I was looking at. Just in general, I'd have liked more full- or even half-page food illustrations. Also, while I understand that Yoshinaga was trying to highlight good restaurants, it became a little repetitive after a while. Every single restaurant was wonderful and unique. I started to wonder if Y-naga had ever been to a restaurant she didn't like. It sure didn't seem like it.

I would only recommend this to Yoshinaga completists, or those in Japan who are either able to go places on their own (meaning “I don't think this would be a good guide for Westerners with little-to-no knowledge of Japanese”) or who have a guide willing to take them wherever they want to go. Actually, considering that it was originally published in 2005, I'm a little doubtful it could still function as a restaurant guide for anyone.

Additional Comments:

In Chapter 4, Y-naga went out to eat with A-dou, a friend of hers who she only recently learned was gay. It had some odd moments. For example, at one point A-dou said he was bi in high school but decided to be exclusively gay as an adult. I'm assuming he was talking more about dating/sex than sexual preference, but I'm not sure. I did like the end of the chapter, when Y-naga apologized for making her living "by drawing manga with gay themes, but none of them are real gay themes" (44).

Extras:

  • One full-color page.
  • Two and a half pages of translation notes. I didn't consult them much while reading, but I still liked them. Many of them are food explanations. I really want to try Bakery French Toast now.

 

Rating Note:

 

I debated whether to give this 2.5 stars or 3. I settled on 3 because I didn't actually dislike it - it was just underwhelming. It helped that I knew going in that it was more a restaurant guide than a story.

 

(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2015-05-12 08:08
1000 Foods To Eat Before You Die
1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die: A Food Lover's Life List - Mimi Sheraton

I have to confess: according to my parents I'm obsessed with talking about food. And when I start to think about it, yes, I like talking about food (and browsing recipes) at least as much as the food itself. But I'll try to keep it short.

 

I'm not even that much of an exotic eater. Yes, I like my curry and I've eaten Chinese in China, but I wouldn't really buy something on the street I think. (The book gives some tips on what to buy, and more useful what foods not to buy on the street). This doesn't mean that I did not enjoy this book. The 1000 recipes (and foods, shops etc) that are presented come from all different kitchens,

 

While it's obviously not a book to read from A to Z  I do think it has something for everyone (if you like food that is). I was especially pleased with the part on the Dutch and Belgian cuisine (since the talk is always in the Netherlands that there is no such thing. I mean, imagine going to a Dutch restaurant instead of, like, an Italian one. Now I come to think about it, there is a Dutch 'pannenkoeken' (pancakes) restaurant in London, but I digress). The other parts also have some interesting stories, and also some of the foods come with a recipe.

 

Would recommend!

 

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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