Friday, August 22, 2008

ALONE in the KITCHEN with an EGGPLANT

Can dining alone be a highlight of one’s day? Can preparing vittles for one’s own consumption – be it served on china with silver or devoured over the kitchen sink or partaken of leisurely in bed – can this really be the stuff of wit and satire and enjoyment? The authors of today’s book think so!

Many of the essayists are either young 20 something essayists or reminiscing about their youth – and I must say after awhile I did tire of yet another “ah…it was my first apartment in the big city. Small as a postage stamp, it yet fulfilled my yearning for a life on my own and my cooking and dining grew with me as I explored this brave new world called adulthood.” Yes, yes, enough with the “I’m finally an adult” stories!! (In fairness, the book seems inclined to favor such stories with the first few essays – once you get past these, by reading or skipping lightly – you get into more mature tales of eating alone – tales which may, I realize not interest the 20-somethings nearly as much as they do me!

But to return to our stories….as good nonfiction will sometimes offer, these stories of cooking (and dining) for one can be as engaging as a good fictional short story. And why not? Both these essays and much fiction revolves around character driven stories – and characters abound in ALONE IN THE KITCHEN WITH AN EGGPLANT – be it the narrator or the foods they prepare!

There are stars of the food and literary world in this collection: MFK Fisher shares her secrets to enjoying dining alone (and if you’ve not read MFK Fisher yet – get on the stick!). Nora Ephron writes of potatoes and love, and Ben Karlin regales us with a tale of his cooking for members of an equally young Italian rock band for whom moma’s home cooking reigned supreme until THAT fateful evening.

But my favorite from ALONE IN THE KITCHEN WITH AN EGGPLANT is an essay by Holly Hughes, “Luxury”, a tale of the bittersweet travails of cooking for a suburban family and the delights of dreaming of dining alone.

Whether you’re single, involved, or just curious about how best to enjoy the dining experience with only yourself I think you’ll enjoy this collection of essays.

Listen to Nick's review as a podcast from WBAA radio by clicking here.

Vienna Prelude

Written by Bodie & Brock Thoene and first book in the Zion Covenant series, this book takes us into the heart of Europe on the eve of Hitler's Anschluss of Austria. We meet a young violinist named Elisa Linder - obviously Aryan with her blonde hair and blue eyes. But Elisa harbors a terrifying secret. Back home in Berlin, she is Elisa Lindheim, daughter of a Jewish war hero and target for German hatred. While her own identity is safe in Vienna because of her Aryan stage name, her Jewish friends in the Vienna Symphony Orchestra are being increasingly targeted by those that would destroy their race. As she struggles to help save her friends while keeping her own identity a secret, even to them, her father is captured as he tries to flee Germany and placed in the infamous Dachau Concentration Camp. Elisa's life begins spinning out of control as Hitler's inches ever closer to Austria.

Meanwhile, a young American journalist named John Murphy discovers Elisa and her secret, and begins to find ways to help fight this one small battle against Hitler. Elisa and John begin to fight in the Jewish Underground Resistance, and together their lives intertwine in the race to stop Hitler before its too late.

I read this book when I was in high school, and I was so fascinated by the story and the writing that I was prompted then and there to study history when I finally went to college. This book is beautifully written and rich in detail; I highly recommend it!

Check it out @ your library: Vienna Prelude by Bodie & Brock Thoene