My Keyboard for a Cutting Board

My Kingdom for a Cutting Board: Adventures in a French Kitchen v1.0, by Laura Pauli

Part luscious food-porn and part letter home from abroad, Laura Pauli’s first book is both engaging and compelling, telling the story of her initial experiences cooking in France after leaving a corporate cubicle job in Silicon Valley. Culled from her blog, and letters she actually wrote to friends and family, it shares her story – including descriptions of food that make the mouth water, and far less appetizing descriptions of things like the shoebox apartment she rents, that could fit inside one room of her former residence in the Bay Area.

Originally Reviewed 13 September 2006

Bitter is the New Black

Bitter is the New Black : Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass,Or, Why You Should Never Carry A Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office

Originally reviewed 13 April 2006.

I’ve read Jen Lancaster’s blog for years, so I was eagerly awaiting her first book, “Bitter is the New Black,” and after reading it (in fits and snatches over the last week) I can say I was not disappointed.

If you’ve ever been faced with the choice between re-doing your roots or paying the electric bill, if you’ve ever found yourself committing couch envy, if you’ve ever been between jobs and unable to support yourself in the lifestyle you’d become accustomed to, this book is for you.

Jen makes no apologies for her snarky, funny, manner of living, and while some of her choices aren’t the same I would make, reading about her fall and subsequent struggle to rise again made me nod my head (at times), laugh out loud (a lot), or cry real tears.

If you liked The Devil Wears Prada, if you enjoyed The Nanny Diaries, you will LOVE Bitter is the New Black.

The Earth Knows My Name: Food, Culture, and Sustainability in the Gardens of Ethnic America: Books: Patricia Klindienst

The Earth Knows My Name: Food, Culture, and Sustainability in the Gardens of Ethnic America: Books: Patricia Klindienst

Poignant and relevant, Patricia Klindienst’s first book is a collection of essays, portraits of different immigrant gardeners and how they have retained their unique cultures through seed and soil, while blending into American society at the same time. The book takes us from Connecticut to California, from the Low Country to land-locked New Mexico, introducing us to vibrant individuals whose passion for the earth is only rivaled by the author’s own.

Herself a master gardener, Klindienst’s voice is much more akin to Studs Terkel as she shares these stories, and while there is an undertone of politics, and the importance of sustainable food use, it is the humanity that shines in this book.

The only flaw is a lack of photographs – gardens are meant to be seen, after all – and one wonders if a coffee-table style presentation might not have been more effective.

The trade paperback edition of The Earth Knows My Name will be released in April, 2007.