Cooked by Michael Pollan

CookedI’ve been fascinated by Michael Pollan’s books about food (The Botany of Desire, The Omnivore’s Dilemma were my favorites.) Here is another, this one about how we, meaning humans, have prepared food. He divides the book into sections by what element is used in cooking — fire, as in barbeque, water, as in soups and stews, air, as in bread baking, and earth, as in fermented foods like pickles, cheese, and home brews.

He includes chemistry, history, and cultural viewpoints. I particularly like reading about his “field trips” to visit experts in the various types of cooking. You’ll have to wait in line for this one, but it’s worth it. It may even tempt you with the recipes included to try some of the techniques at home.

Reviewed by Sue D.

Raising the Bar: Integrity and Passion in Life and Business, The Story of Clif Bar & Co. by Gary Erickson

Raising the BarThis story is about how a man saw a need and filled that need.

Gary Erickson, the founder of Clif Bar, tells how a long bike ride in his 30s led him to create the iconic, organic energy bars and other related products when there was really only one on the market at that time.

I loved reading his short stories throughout the book about his mountain biking trips and other excursions he took with friends and how the lessons he learned from those trips apply to how he runs his business.

It’s great to read about how some businesses owners, like Gary, stay true to their passions in their business instead of conforming to practices that compromise their values.

I recommend this book for anyone, especially businesses owners, outdoor enthusiasts and organic foodies.

Reviewed by Laura

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the culinary underbelly by Anthony Bourdain

Kitchen ConfidentialThis is an honest autobiography of a ne’er-do-well adolescent maturing into a renown world-traveling chef. It’s an entire book of sometimes horrifying, sometimes salacious, sometimes more-than-I-wanted-to-know, but very informative ‘dishing’ about the workings of restaurant kitchens. Bourdin really shows that he cares about his field by giving hard advice to anyone who wants to be a restaurant chef in one of the last chapters. After reading this, I felt rather full and not desiring any more (writings by Bourdain) for quite a while, similar to how one feels after an extensive and rich meal.

Reviewed by Laura

I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti by Giula Melucci

This is a heartwarming memoir of a successful book publicist in search of a man with the marrying type of love….She hilariously recounts the highlights and ‘lowlights’ of her relations with a string of suitors and her heroic (?) efforts to win them.  Coming from a large, loving Italian family with plenty of love for food, she intersperses her stories with recipes she made for her partners.  She never disparages or analyzes herself, but simply describes her actions with tongue in cheek, and I found myself wanting to call out to her…”No, don’t keep doing that!” and the like.  It’s so much easier to see patterns in other people!!  I enjoyed this book from the beginning to the very last morsel.

Reviewed by Laura