RaveChristian Science MonitorWhat could have been a stately tour through the ancient and global roots of soul food is instead a madcap dash through history, a thrilling pursuit of usually enthralling and sometimes horrifying stories, and a heroic attempt to view an ambitiously large part of the African-American experience through the lens of food. This book isn\'t an archive dump – it\'s a vibrant, emotionally charged work that crackles with vitality and contemporary stories ... The threads are numerous and long, but when woven together into the book, they tell a story of a diaspora with a remarkably deep cultural memory that is enhanced by (and often comprised of) food ... There seems to be no topic that Twitty is unwilling to dig deeply into. The diaspora of Africans in the Americas is not a monolith – it\'s a mosaic of languages, cultures, and geographic points of origin that make the food folkways of the American South a virtual labyrinth ... For readers who have not reckoned seriously with the profound and continuing effect of slavery on American culture, this book would be a good place to start ... Twitty has accomplished something remarkable with The Cooking Gene. He has written a book that is deeply personal and at times profoundly emotional without losing sight of an ambitious goal: documenting one of America\'s foundational food cultures. This isn\'t a book to acquire, cook from, and discard when the next year\'s crop of beautifully illustrated recipe volumes hit the shelves. It\'s a book to save, reread, and share until everyone you know has a working understanding of the human stories and pain behind some of America\'s most foundational and historically significant foods.
PositiveChristian Science Monitor\"The book’s great strength is its rigorous documentation of Gandhi’s life: in its pages, the reader encounters the countless letters, conversations, disputes, arrests, and insights that made the man, and the reader also begins to understand how he reshaped thinking around the world (including, perhaps most notably, Gandhi’s influence on the soon-to-rise American civil rights movement.) The book’s central weakness is directly related to its rigor – in his effort to include every struggle, family relationship, tour, and dispute in the great man’s life, Guha consistently errs on the side of creating a complete record over writing an easily digestible story. This makes the book an invaluable resource for academics and deep thinkers; readers looking for a casual tour of a great life are better off going elsewhere. This isn’t to begrudge Guha the pages he fills - his job is a big one.\
José Andrés with Richard Wolffe
RaveThe Christian Science MonitorIt’s a story of people feeding people wrapped up in a much bigger story of 3.4 million disaster-struck Americans treated like an unwanted afterthought ... Andrés paints sometimes shocking pictures of huge organizations paralyzed by often remote and indifferent administrators, crippling bureaucratic requirements, and an outdated idea of food that revolved around MREs, which are designed to be almost indestructible ... On the other hand, the story that Andrés spins of his group’s work on Puerto Rico is inspiring ... Andrés’s account is personally compelling, but it’s important in a much larger sense, too—it calls into question the relationship of the United States to its territories...and it raises the possibility that Big Aid is broken, and needs to be reinvented. You can’t read We Fed an Island without being angry on behalf of Andrés and Puertorriqueños ... while Andrés has scores to settle, he’s generally more interested in celebrating the people who helped and spotlighting the resilience of the islanders in the wake of disaster. It’s an important book, and as the rate of major weather events accelerates, its lessons will take on more resonance as the years go by.
RaveChristian Science MonitorThe book\'s back cover touts its author\'s \'layered perspective\'...and that\'s the key to the book\'s strength, too – it examines food not as static, finished recipes but as evolving conversations between cultures and generations ... Lee is consistently willing to dive into unfamiliar places and challenging conversations to get stories that haven\'t yet been told, and the reader emerges from Buttermilk Graffiti richer for his efforts ... In short: Lee talks a lot, but he listens more. More than anything, Buttermilk Graffiti represents exactly the kind of inquiry that helps create a vibrant national food scene.
RaveThe Christian Science MonitorJustin Spring's subjects include the legendary and luminary Julia Child, essayist M.F.K. Fisher, wine entrepreneur and author Alexis Lichine, New Yorker journalist A.J. Liebling, artist-turned-culinary savant Richard Olney, and art world notable Alice B. Toklas. What all of Spring's six gourmands have in common is an interest in carrying the ideals of French food from Paris to America. But their motivations and methods vary wildly … The Gourmands' Way really finds its voice in its second half, when Spring spins bigger, bolder, longer, and considerably wilder tales about his subjects, rewarding the persistent reader with some legitimately shocking stories … Along the way as readers dive into these rich life stories, they are rewarded with virtual tastes of food and wine that are skillfully executed by these masters of the art.
MixedThe Christian Science MonitorAlthough the book examines many of the green shoots that grew into the garden of Chez Panisse (and all that follows), Coming to My Senses should come with a warning label: This volume will bring a reader up to the founding of the restaurant and no further, with only fleeting glimpses into the restaurant’s history … If some of its elements are less appealing, others are very tasty. The insight Waters offers into her New Jersey upbringing seeds the story admirably and engagingly. And while recounting her own childhood and travels, Waters plants many seeds for what is to come … Coming to My Senses is more than the telling of a life story – it’s an argument. However, much of that argument seems to be the following: Waters was really rebellious, wild, and countercultural.
RaveThe Christian Science Monitor\"It\'s difficult to fully conceive of the privilege and power of the caste system from a foreigner\'s perspective; from the viewpoint of people so low on the system that they stand outside of its levels, it\'s a mesmerizing horror to behold, and author Sujatha Gidla spares no detail ... With her luminous command of fine details, Gidla manages a difficult and admirable task: she takes a tremendously personal memoir and renders it with such clarity that it tells the broader story of a place and an era ... the humanity that Gidla gives to her subjects – many of whom are her own flesh and blood – keeps the book from sinking into a mire. Instead, the reader is given sharply observed fragments taken from life, observed and rendered with a gimlet eye.\
RaveThe Christian Science Monitor...richly researched and told ... Kingsley, the inaugural migration correspondent for the Guardian, digs deep with his research. He takes the reader to the front lines of people smuggling (and people trafficking) ... Over the course of the book, Kingsley deploys first-hand observations, probing interviews, and copious testimony to paint a vivid picture of the human suffering that migrants face during their journey. His writing is clean and crisp, clearly honed by newspaper deadlines and wordcounts – he paints full pictures, but doesn't overload his paragraphs or his pages, making The New Odyssey a rapid but rich read ... Kingsley marshals facts and numbers effectively, but the crowning virtue of his book is its clear-eyed and sober sense of compassion.