Wednesday, July 02, 2008

What I'm reading:
"The Produce Bible" by Leanne Kitchen
"High and Dry" by Robert Nold
"Amarcord: Marcella Remembers"
by Marcella Hazan

First, two new additions to my reference library. One is a longtime covet, "The Produce Bible" by Leanne Kitchen (career natural or nom de plume?), which is a paperback but still quite hefty. It's full of great info on all kinds of vegetables, how to choose and store them, plus recipes.

The second is brand-new: "High and Dry: Gardening with Cold-Hardy Dryland Plants" by Robert Nold. I've "known" Bob and his wife, Cindy, for years through a local gardening listserv. Bob would maybe object to my saying he knows everything there is to know about gardening in the high desert (which essentially Denver is), but he knows a hell of a lot more than 99 percent of the gardeners around, and he shares his knowledge in this encyclopedic volume.

Cindy is a fantabulous photographer and watercolor illustrator, and she provided the artwork for the book.

I recently had a chance to visit their wonderful garden, 18 years in the making, and they generously offered me a few plants for my own garden. (I've been meaning to post about them one of these days.) Their garden is very similar to what I aspire to create in my own yard. Bob just start a blog, too: High and Dry.

I'm looking forward to putting these books to use in my kitchen and garden!

And then there's this. Someone who knows I like foodie memoirs slipped me an advance copy of "Amarcord: Marcella Remembers" by Marcella Hazan. The subtitle is "The Remarkable Life Story of a Woman Who Started Out Teaching Science in a Small Town in Italy, but Ended Up Teaching America How to Cook Italian." Which is wordy and (I think) superfluous, but does convey the accidental nature of her fame as a cook and cookbook author.

I'm about a third of the way through and really enjoying it. She has an interesting history of a very early childhood in Egypt, then formative years (including during WWII) in a small town in Italy, then marriage to an American (with roots in that town), a move to America, then back to Italy ... that's where I am now in her story.

Until she married, she had never cooked anything but pig mash! But she has strong memories of all the delicious country foods of her childhood, which helped inform her cooking once she got married and started to learn.

Aside from the food, her story is interesting in itself, and she tells it well. I presume she had someone working with her on the book, as she did not learn English until she was in her 20s. Or if she wrote herself, her English is as flawless as her cooking. Her story flows easily and her voice comes through in the writing.

The book is due out in October. If you like memoirs, good stories and food, this is one to watch out for.


  1. I can't wait to read the Marcella Hazan memoir. I just finished "The Tenth Muse", a memoir by Judith Jones, the editor who brought Julia Child into the hearts and kitchens of America.

  2. I've just lately been dabbling in memoir-reading after joining The Story Circle Network, a lifewriting group for women. This genre is certainly a hot commodity in the publishing industry - so much so, that people are writing fake ones. Who needs to do that? Every little life is interesting in it's own way. The day-to-day can be very precious if we pay attention to the moments.

    More book reviews... I love 'em! :) Thanks. Another book to add to my burgeoning stack.

  3. It's a great read! I'm trying to stretch it out because I don't want to finish it.