Eating in nature and food in Seattle: Two Book Reviews

9781616206420

At 34 author Elizabeth Bailey is struck with a mysterious illness that leaves her bedridden.

“Ss the months drifted by, it was hard to remember why the endless details of a healthy life and a good job had seemed so critical.” (p.10).

During a “strong” day she finds a small snail and brings him/her (snails are both) into the house to live in her potted plant. But, these are just the facts. The story, …well the story! Oh my! What a story! I loved every word! I felt her absorption in this tiny being’s world. I felt the wonder, the worry and the joy. This is a true introvert’s delight. The snail gives her something to go on for–something her size (the size of her strength at that time) to inspire her.

Gradually, though, Bailey gets better, stronger. The snail, whether lonely or due to some innate need to continue the species, reproduces–this part has a few magical sentences. Observing the tiny eggs, the caring parent–is a revelation to Bailey–she very well may be the only person to observe this. But one snail is a lot when you are bedridden. It’s enough. The 100+ offspring….that’s another story. (FYI:They were humanly released back to the wild).

“The previous spring, when I could do almost nothing, spending time with a snail had been pure entertainment. But as my functional abilities improved just a bit, watching a snail began to take patience. I wondered at what point in my convalescence I might leave the snail’s world behind.” (p. 152-152).

Finally, Bailey is well enough to return home. Her dog is back with her. But the love of the snail has made her delve into real research about the snail–both while ill and after. The product of her observations, her fascination and her research is this incredible little book. If you only read one nature book this year, let the Sound of a Wild Snail Eating be it.

9781570619267

Chef Renee Erickson is a mover and a shaker in the trendy Seattle restaurant scene. Her cookbook, A Boat, a Whale & A Walrus showcases the cuisines of her restaurants. In among the amazing seafood menus and recipes are fun stories of her climb up to the top as a chef, of enjoying food with friends, and of the people who sell her the super-fresh, superb-quality food that stars in her restaurants. I must admit, though, I had little sympathy for “having” to eat crab because it was so cheap where she grew up! I’ll swap you all the pork chops or poached eggs on toast you want for those childhood crabs!

As a chef she does something I’ve not read much about before–she serves many meals at room temperature. Interesting, but it sounds like it works very well. I’ve always wanted to visit Seattle and, appropriately, I found this book in the recommendations of Seattle’s fabled Elliot Bay Book Company

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Now, the food….Can you imagine swirling a glass with a martini involving preserved lemon and an anchovy stuffed olives while munching gorgeous artichoke leaves dipped in velvety mayonnaise (a passion of mine) then being called to this lovely table (left) to  enjoy great conversation while indulging in a dinner of the freshest seafood, vegetables, breads and fruits available–all paired when appropriate with superb wines and  prepared by someone who says: “I can cook ’til I’m blue in the face, but if no one’s around to eat it, to form a community around it, it’s just a bunch of food” (p19)? Sigh. Swoon. Foodie Heaven.

And then, there’s desert! Oh my, my, my, my, my! She does have a somewhat distressing affinity for both rhubarb and fennel, but I imagine I’d like them fine the ways she works on them! And, if not, there’s desert–right?

Seattle has moved up several notches on my Bucket List. A Boat, a Whale & A Walrus by James Beard Award Winner, Renee Erickson

 

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