Thursday, August 19, 2010

50 Best Cookbooks, Pt. 1 (courtesy The Guardian)

Here's a great list of the top 50 cookbooks of all time. On Sunday The Guardian will release the top 10.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

On [university] Students

'I have to work very seriously now,' he told her. 'If we are ever to get married, I must apply myself. I sit up late at night, reading.'

'But why do you do all this reading? You are not a student anymore.'

'He would not read if he was,' said the Mandelsloh. 'Students do not read, they drink.'

'Why do they drink?' Sophie asked.

'Because they desire to know the whole truth,' said Fritz, 'and that makes them desperate.'

Gunther, who had been half asleep, came to, and protested.

'What would it cost them,' Sophie asked, 'to know the whole truth?'

'They can't reckon that,' said Fritz, 'but they know they can get drunk for three groschen.'

-- The Blue Flower, Penelope Fitzgerald

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Art Time

G and I went to Toy R Us yesterday--they are having a huge sale on Crayola products. She and I picked out a bunch of fun crayons, etc. But our favorite by far is the no-drip watercolor set that she picked out. We used it today, and she LOVED it. And I did too... no mess... and she got to paint! So much fun...

Friday, August 06, 2010

Book Pairings, Pt. 2

Recently, I have been plowing through a lot of fiction and history about World War Two. I recently started reading C.S. Lewis' collection of essays, The Weight of Glory. As I was reading W of G I thought how interesting it would be to read more books, essays, novels, etc. written during the war to get more of a sense of the kinds of things that folks were grappling with in the moment. 

Any suggestions for WWII? 

On my list is:
Few Eggs and No Oranges: Vere Hodgson's Diary, 1940-45, Vere Hodgson
David Golder, The Ball, Snow in Autumn, The Courilof Affair, by Irene Nemirovsky

Any other suggestions, specially on essays (kind of reflections, op-ed types, arguments, etc.) written during the war, would be most appreciated. 

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Book Pairings Pt. 1

I have had this idea to read a biography and an autobiography of the same person. My requirement was, however, that they both be of literary merit. So I wrote to Jonathan Yardley of the Washington Post for his advice. He graciously responded with the following suggestion:

Happy Days, Newspaper Days, or Heathen Days, by H.L. Mencken & The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken, by Terry Teachout 

J also came up with a good pairing in Douglas MacArthur's Reminiscences & American Caesar, by William Manchester.

And here's another: Curiculum Vitae, by Muriel Spark &  Muriel Spark: The Biography, by Martin Stannard (though I have heard some mixed reviews of this biography). 

Do you have any suggestions?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010


Here's an interesting article from the Smithsonian's Food and Think blog on food and cravings... something I've always wondered about. Sadly, there still isn't much information that we have on the phenomena. 

Two excerpts: 

--a wacky story: One exception may be iron-deficient anemia, which is sometimes linked to an eating disorder called pica, in which a person has a craving for ice, dirt or other non-food items. Pelchat related the story of a woman who was in the hospital with both iron-deficient anemia and mercury poisoning; she was eating a box of facial tissues a day. The anemia was brought under control, and the mercury poisoning also resolved. It turned out that, at home, the woman had been buying used paperback books to eat because they were less expensive than tissues—and until a couple of decades ago, mercury was used in the processing of paper.

....ummm... wouldn't you call your doctor before you started putting "cheap paperbacks at Used Bookstore" on your grocery list?

--more to food than nutrition: If much about cravings is still a mystery, one thing has been clear in Pelchat’s research: a monotonous diet is likely to trigger them. In studies in which participants were fed only an Ensure-like liquid that provided all their nutritional and caloric needs for three weeks (and were required to finish it so they were full), she says, it took only two days for young adults to report huge increases in cravings. They all craved non-sweet foods. “We don’t know if it’s boredom, or the idea of restriction,” she says, “but clearly it isn’t nutritional need.”

Captured: America in Color from 1939-1943

Captured: America in Color from 1939-1943 – Plog Photo Blog

Another great selection of old slides that have been digitized. 

These images, by photographers of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information, are some of the only color photographs taken of the effects of the Depression on America’s rural and small town populations. The photographs are the property of the Library of Congress and were included in a 2006 exhibit Bound for Glory: America in Color.


...these are from a great site called 'How to Be a Retronaut'. They have superimposed old WWII photographs taken at the exact same place as ones from present day. For some reason they are incredibly moving.