Foreword Reviews

Book of the Day Roundup: November 21-25, 2022

Vegan Africa

Plant-Based Recipes from Ethiopia to Senegal

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Marie Kacouchia
The Experiment
Hardcover $24.95 (192pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Marie Kacouchia’s cookbook Vegan Africa is packed with a wide variety of recipes from across the continent.

The recipes range from simple sauces to flavorful mains, all using natural ingredients and that stand to hold appeal for vegetarians and omnivores, too. Some of the easier recipes involve two or three steps, as with a West African kinkeliba-mint iced tea made from boiling dried kinkeliba leaves, and with a vinaigrette from the Ivory Coast made by whisking a few items together. Others are far more involved, as with a vegan version of the classic Ethiopian stew wat, packed with carrots, potatoes, cabbage, and plenty of fragrant spices.

Because of its cross-continental approach, the cookbook tackles staples that highlight different regions’ flavors and cooking styles. It includes breads like Ethiopia’s spongy injera, the Indian-influenced chapati popular in other parts of eastern Africa, and even sweet beignets. Its side dishes range from the tomato-forward jollof rice of western regions to a vermicelli with Spanish cashews that comes from the Middle East and represents a fusion of cuisines. Its desserts include vegan versions of rice pudding, chocolate mousse, and banana-peanut butter ice cream, as well as muffins and pancakes.

The easy-to-follow recipes are complemented by a brief introduction that highlights the health benefits of the vegetables, grains, and legumes they use, and by dozens of beautiful photographs of the dishes and their ingredients. The book also includes a short list of menus for specific occasions, like a romantic dinner or a gourmet snack.

Making use of ingredients from around the continent, including yams, cassava, red beans, mangos, and plantains, Vegan Africa will appeal to home cooks who embrace regional food.

JEFF FLEISCHER (October 27, 2022)

Theo’s Deliciously Different Dumplings

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Donna Housman
Renée Andriani
Brown Books Kids
Hardcover $18.00 (32pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Theo is nervous about his first day at a new school, but having some of his favorite dumplings in his lunch box brings him comfort—until a classmate teases him about the unfamiliar food. Though embarrassed, Theo reaches for understanding and finds a new friend. Soft, colorful illustrations enhance this story about the common ground we can find if we step out of what we know to try new things.

DANIELLE BALLANTYNE (October 27, 2022)

Midcentury Cocktails

History, Lore and Recipes from America’s Atomic Age

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Cecelia Tichi
NYU Press
Hardcover $19.95 (160pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Cecelia Tichi’s Midcentury Cocktails blends history, literature, and cultural critiques to address trends in alcohol and entertainment in the 1950s and 1960s.

Despite what jokes about Baby Boomers suggest, the 1950s and 1960s were not a homogeneous time in the US. The alcohol culture of the period revealed tensions between Cold War industries, road-tripping beatniks, postwar disgruntled housewives, and the first Playboy bunnies. The same decades that birthed McCarthyism also paved the way for a tiki craze. These cultural strains are apparent in the chosen drinks of the era, which range from martinis and Manhattans to sophisticated egg-white cocktails like the Clover Club.

Gender is a major theme, as is race. The distinction between men and women’s drinking habits receives attention, as does the Green Book, an early manual devoted to helping Black American travelers navigate which hotels and bars were more or less racist in the Jim Crow US. Literary luminaries including Ernest Hemingway and Sylvia Plath grace the pages, too, with their observations about American drinking habits. Breakfast at Tiffany’s receives its own chapter. If one desires educated drinking buddies, this book delivers them in spades, with wry humor to point out both people’s accomplishments and shortcomings.

Illustrations and recipe lists accompany each chapter; these are visual, flavorful ways to engage with the book’s cultural history lessons. Some of the recipes assume access to special ingredients like orzata and falernum, but one imagines that, in the generous American spirit of adventurousness, mixologists can improvise as needed.

Midcentury Cocktails is a delightful, nostalgic trip through the 1950s and 1960s with recipes for recreating Atomic Age intoxications.

JEANA JORGENSEN (October 27, 2022)

The Kitchen Healer

The Journey to Becoming You

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Jules Blaine Davis
Sounds True
Hardcover $28.99 (288pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Enter the heart of the home to find solace and self-love through Jules Blaine Davis’s New Age book The Kitchen Healer.

Though it contains some recipes, this is not a cookbook, but rather a cooking book. It is a guide to feeling at home in both the kitchen and in yourself. A contributor for Goop, Davis shares her methods for getting ahead of hunger to feed the soul with suggestions for starting the morning with deep breaths by candlelight and setting up delicious, nutritious charcuteries, which she calls Wood Board Love. The prayer-like meditations throughout the book ease women out of going “missing in [their] own life,” showing them how to look inward and heal from the past while celebrating their femininity.

The book’s gentle, loving language brims with compassion. It lives in the abstract, weaving through analogies and heartfelt celebrations of preparing food that open up opportunities for higher connection with nourishment. The recipes within it are metaphors for personal transformation, with eggs cracking open to reveal yolks bright as the light inside the soul and rich, seasonal cakes offering permission to indulge in self-reflection. While much of its guidance is devotional, its occurrences of practical advice are motivational as well, as with its suggestion to place fruits and vegetables where they are visible in the kitchen to inspire similar openness and to show that nourishment is everywhere.

The gorgeous photographs that grace the pages enhance its message, with Davis’s home kitchen glowing in candlelight and eager children’s hands reaching toward a vibrant Wood Board Love. Free-form poems reinforce the book’s compassionate affirmations, while “heart work” and “hello body” activities connect the mystical to the tangible.

Kitchen Healer is a comforting spirit guide to feeding the soul’s hunger with gentle, self-actualized invocations for the food we love.

AIMEE JODOIN (October 27, 2022)

The Language of Tattoos

130 Symbols and What They Mean

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Oliver Munden
Nick Schonberger
Frances Lincoln
Hardcover $30.00 (224pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

This visual, informative guide decodes 130 popular symbols from the contemporary tattoo scene. Lavish illustrations make it a great resource for anyone contemplating some new body ink, or who is curious about tattoo history and the meaning behind the hearts, devils, and animals snaking over the communal epidermis.

Summarizing how this once uncommon art form reflects public fascination with print culture, the book shows how the contemporary tattoo canon incorporates cross-pollinating aspects of three distinct styles: Western traditional, with its nautical and outsider group roots; Japanese irezuma, influenced by wood block prints, Noh theatre, and religious and cultural symbolism; and Mexican American black-and-gray fine line tattooing. It is organized by symbolic meanings and includes images that are easy to read, like crying hearts and phoenixes, as well as those that must be deciphered, like a pot-bellied, large-testicled Tanuki toting a magnum of sake that denotes boldness, wealth, and a certain trustworthy mischievousness. It acknowledges that tattoos often embody personal storytelling and can have intense individual and subjective meanings, but also shows how symbols arose in various cultures, and evolved into what is now a “codified business complete with an intoxicating mythology.”

The Language of Tattoos is an entertaining field guide to the expanding tattoo tapestry that surrounds us.

RACHEL JAGARESKI (October 27, 2022)

Barbara Hodge

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