Monday, February 15, 2010

What I'm Reading/What I Will Read

I seem to recall resolving to read more, or at least finish books this year. There's a mountain of books and magazines on the floor beside my side of the bed. The pile is to gargantuan, so precarious, that if ten or more books were to be added to the summit, I could be crushed in the night if one of our cats were to sneeze.

Anyway, I LOVE the library. It's my favourite hangout in the city. Ideally, libraries would serve beer and I could sit by the window for an hour, reading and nursing a beautiful pint of Guinness. Ahhh, paradise.

As mentioned in my "Favourite Things" post before Christmas, I've fallen in love with Anthony Bourdain. Yeah, he can be sarcastic, but I'd rather watch this guy who looks like a well-aged roadie for the Ramones travel the world talking to locals and eating wonderfully tasty things, than most of the horrible celebrity chefs on the Food Network. Besides, what other food show host would travel to the outer boroughs of New York and hit a tiki bar in Staten Island with the former lead singer of the New York Dolls?

Well, I'm finally reading Kitchen Confidential. I started reading it yesterday and I stayed up until 1:30 last night devouring the first few chapters. It's a well-written and highly entertaining recount of Bourdain's experiences in the restaurant world. I used to work in a garden centre. One of my co-workers was this guy called Alex. He was training to become a chef and for about two weeks, he brought Kitchen Confidential with him every day. He read it in the cash tent and only put it down to ring up the odd flat of marigolds, or help an old lady to her car with a bag of manure.

The next book I'm reading is also a food book, but pretty much the opposite. The Riverside Cottage Cookbook is the byproduct of a delightful English TV show - The Riverside Cottage. The book and show are the brainchildren of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. No one on this side of the Atlantic would have a name so ridiculously long. I asked my English husband why so many people have hyphenated names in the UK and he said that it gets back to the aristocracy - something we'll never have to worry about.

Hugh may have an aristo name, but he's extraordinarily down to earth. He lives in Riverside Cottage, a sprawling country farmhouse in Dorset. There, he grows food with his family. He does it all: veg, fruit, livestock... bread. The Riverside Cottage Cookbook is a book I can definitely see myself buying. It covers the how-tos of operating your own food farm and offers over 1,000 mouth-watering recipes. We watched the show last night and Ken and I agreed that Hugh is living the life we want to live. It's a dream that's attainable - probably more attainable in Canada than the UK given the high cost of real estate over there.

On the episode we watched, Hugh grabbed a bunch of fast-food junkies from London and they camped out at the cottage for a week and learned about growing and cooking delicious, wholesome food. After watching them collecting fresh eggs and cutting up savory vegetables, it was pretty repulsive to see the greasy French fries and pizza they brought back to see if the Londoners would be tempted back into old habits. Watch the show, read the book!
Bookcover - Last Child in the Woods
Lastly, I recently learned about this book called Last Child in the Woods. I blogged about it on The Foolscap Flyer yesterday In many respects, this book compliments the Riverside Cottage ethos. Hugh is raising his son to be free and go exploring. I'm seeing a lot of kids these days who have parents that micromanage their every move. I refuse to raise Duncan that way. He needs to get his hands dirty and try things without constant supervision. I've ordered this book and will review it upon reading.


  1. I LOVE Tony Bourdain. He is ultra-cool, sarcastic, and oh-so-hot! I love that he has lived a fast life and doesn't hesitate to admit it. I also love that he isn't 'pretty'. I also agree that he is so much more interesting than the overly groomed nits over at Food Network.

    I also love River Cottage. I am as close to living that sort of life as I have ever been and i love it!

    Books that I have read recently: 'All Creatures Great and Small' and 'A Painted House'. Both excellent reads!

  2. I love Tony Bourdain - and so does my kid. I loved that book!

  3. Pixie: I'm so jealous that you get to watch fresh episodes of British shows. I know there's a lot of crap on the TV in England, but dollar for dollar, pound for pound, there's still WAY more original programming. When we were in England in 2001, I was amazed by the variety of shows (and I'm not talking about variety shows). My favourite was the one with the gardener who would fly to different amazing gardens in the UK.
    P.S. You hit the nail on the head about Bourdain. When I discovered another teacher at my school likes him, I said something like, "Don't you think he's handsome for his age?" To which she replied something unprintable. The past tense of the verb "did" was in her sentence.

  4. Oops, I meant to say present tense of "did." I've got a head cold and I've spent the better part of the past 24 hours writing report cards. Anyway, I'm sure you get the wink wink, nudge nudge - say no more.

  5. Have that Bourdain book of many to read. I read his later book, can't remember the name..was it "No Reservation", also the name of his TV show? I gave that book to a good friend so I can't check on the name. Love his show though I am not sure when it's on. Can anyone figure out how he can eat and eat all over the world but is still skinny???!!


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I'm a slightly off-beat Toronto-area teacher who enjoys writing and photography. I come from a family of collectors and now I'm dragging my own family around to yard sales. It's just a bit of fun. Enjoy the scenes.