Showing posts with label marcus samuelsson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label marcus samuelsson. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Well-Read Redhead's Best Books of 2013!

It's that time of year, y'all!  All those Best Books lists are being released, and I am never one to be left out of the fun and games.  So without further ado...

The Well-Read Redhead's Best Books of 2013!

As happened last year, I had an immensely difficult time compiling this list.  It took me ages to narrow it down to just 10 books that I've read in the last year.  But I managed, and here they are (in no particular order, and with links to my original reviews):

1. How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
I went into this novel with hesitation, because I hadn't done a heavy classic in a while.  I was more than pleasantly surprised.  An amazing coming-of-age tale that is going to stick with me for a long, long time.

2. Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson
I am admittedly biased because I love food memoirs, and I love the Food Network this was a match made in heaven for me from the start.  Either way, it deserves a spot on this list, if only because Samuelsson's journey is so unique and inspiring.

3. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
As an avid Picoult fan, I had high expectations for this one, and was not disappointed in the least.  I've read a lot of Holocaust-based historical fiction...this is one of the better ones I can remember coming across.

4. White Dog Fell From The Sky by Eleanor Morse
Beautiful, picturesque, gorgeous, awesome-sauce writing is the #1 reason why this made it on the list.  The captivating story is a bonus.

5. Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel
If there was a book that should be on everyone's list for great character development, this is it.  Beautiful prose, and makes me feel like one of my 2014 resolutions should be to read more of Daniel's stuff.

6. Everybody Has Everything by Katrina Onstad
This book tugged at my mommy heartstrings.  HARD.

7. Cooked by Michael Pollan
I continue to be wow'ed by the depth of Pollan's food-based research, combined with his entertaining commentary along the way.  He makes me feel smarter...and hungrier.

8. We Are Water by Wally Lamb
Another epic family drama from Lamb.  He has yet to disappoint me.

9. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
The unsettling tone of this novel is still creeping me out.  The ending was awesome.  I am not quite as in awe of this one as I was of Gone Girl, but ohsoclose.

10. Expecting Better by Emily Oster
This book should be required reading for every pregnant or soon-to-be-pregnant woman out there.  How I wish I had this to counterbalance all the crazy pregnancy books I read when I was knocked up with Small Fry!  At least Tater Tot is reaping the benefits now.

That's the list for this year, readers!  And now you've got 14 more days to buy them for your friends and family before Christmas.  You can thank me later.

What made YOUR best-read list for 2013?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (30)

Welcome back, wordy friends!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by BermudaOnion each week. It's an opportunity to share new words you've encountered in your reading, or highlight words that you particularly enjoy.

Here are three of my favorite new-to-me words from  Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson.  
All definitions from (except where noted).

1. carnelian. "Like every other boathouse in Hasselosund, ours was painted a carnelian red with an even darker red pitched roof and white trim around the eaves, doors, and windows."

a red or reddish variety of chalcedony, used in jewelry.

And apparently "chalcedony" is a variety of quartz.

2. tastevin. "A sommelier with a sterling silver tastevin around his neck stood by the bar, ready to guide guests through the extensive French wine list."  

a small, very shallow silver cup or saucer traditionally used by winemakers and sommeliers when judging the maturity and taste of a wine.

I actually got this definition from Wikipedia, because didn't have it.  A neat word for the wine lovers out there!

3. coffered. "Finally, we passed a dining room far more opulent than Belle Avenue's, with upholstered chairs and coffered ceilings, sparkling chandeliers, and columns carved from marble."
having coffers.

Not helpful,!  "Coffers" are sunken panels seen in ceilings...had to look that one up.

What are your new words this week?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

April Showers Bring May Awesomes. (April 2013 in Review)

So April was a pretty awesome month.  Mostly because of the weather.  My pasty-pale self is now becoming pasty-pale with a scattering of freckles, which must mean the sun has arrived in Upstate New York.  If only all my freckles would meld together, I would be blessed with the most luscious tan.  Ah, the life of a ginger.

Also, my lil (not so lil anymore) brother got engaged this month!  I am wicked excited for him and his fiancee (who has received the Big Sister Seal of Approval).  Let the wedding plans begin!

As per usual in my monthly recaps, I will also grace you with a photo of Sir Small Fry.  He was very serious about his outdoor play time this month:
Obviously Mother has done something for which she should feel ashamed.
Now, enough about me, onward to the book-related goodness!  Apparently the warm weather led to less reading and more outdoor time, because my reading/posting pace was a little slower.

The April 2013 Fave/Least Fave choices were difficult, and honestly, my "least" fave shouldn't be read as being a "bad"'s just the one I gave the lowest rating to on Goodreads (a 3-star, by the way).

March 2013 Favorite:  How Green Was My Valley  by Richard Llewellyn
March 2013 Least Favorite:  The Sex Lives of Cannibals  by J Maarten Troost

In total, I read/reviewed 6 books:
How Green Was My Valley  by Richard Llewellyn
Found Objects  by Peter Gelfan
Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson
The World's Strongest Librarian  by Josh Hanagarne
Weelicious  by Catherine McCord
The Sex Lives of Cannibals  by J Maarten Troost

I also posted one new Small Fry Saturday Review of  Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury.

In other book talk, I was one of the first features on Book Bloggers International, we took a trip down my college-era memory lane, and I told you all the topics that, if melted together, would create my ultimate read.

May is going to be a busy month around here--we're getting a new roof put on today, and Small Fry is getting ear tubes inserted tomorrow, so already we're off with a bang.  But May is also my engagement anniversary (awww).  And, let's not forget that Mother's Day is coming up.  YOU'RE ON NOTICE, HUSBAND.  Fine jewels and massages as far as the eye can see!  (Or at least the ability to sleep past 6am.)

Have a great month!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Book Review: Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson

Title: Yes, Chef
Author: Marcus Samuelsson
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: June 26, 2012
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

It begins with a simple ritual: Every Saturday afternoon, a boy who loves to cook walks to his grandmother’s house and helps her prepare a roast chicken for dinner. The grandmother is Swedish, a retired domestic. The boy is Ethiopian and adopted, and he will grow up to become the world-renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson. This book is his love letter to food and family in all its manifestations.

Marcus Samuelsson was only three years old when he, his mother, and his sister—all battling tuberculosis—walked seventy-five miles to a hospital in the Ethiopian capital city of Addis Adaba. Tragically, his mother succumbed to the disease shortly after she arrived, but Marcus and his sister recovered, and one year later they were welcomed into a loving middle-class white family in Göteborg, Sweden. It was there that Marcus’s new grandmother, Helga, sparked in him a lifelong passion for food and cooking with her pan-fried herring, her freshly baked bread, and her signature roast chicken. From a very early age, there was little question what Marcus was going to be when he grew up.

Yes, Chef chronicles Marcus Samuelsson’s remarkable journey from Helga’s humble kitchen to some of the most demanding and cutthroat restaurants in Switzerland and France, from his grueling stints on cruise ships to his arrival in New York City, where his outsize talent and ambition finally come together at Aquavit, earning him a coveted New York Times three-star rating at the age of twenty-four. But Samuelsson’s career of “chasing flavors,” as he calls it, had only just begun—in the intervening years, there have been White House state dinners, career crises, reality show triumphs and, most important, the opening of the beloved Red Rooster in Harlem. At Red Rooster, Samuelsson has fufilled his dream of creating a truly diverse, multiracial dining room—a place where presidents and prime ministers rub elbows with jazz musicians, aspiring artists, bus drivers, and nurses. It is a place where an orphan from Ethiopia, raised in Sweden, living in America, can feel at home.

My Review:

You all already know how much I love food memoirs.  I fell in love with them after I tore through most of Anthony Bourdain's.  So it's no surprise that when I heard Marcus Samuelsson was releasing a memoir in 2012, I knew I would have to push it up my reading list.

For those of you unfamiliar with Marcus Samuelsson, he is one of the so-called "Food Network Stars".  He is often a judge on shows like Chopped, and he also competes in other shows (like Next Iron Chef, which he totally got booted from too early, in my ever-so-humble opinion).  I have always loved watching him cook on TV, because he brings some extremely unique international flavor to his dishes.  This book gave me the opportunity to delve into the origins of those skills.

As a memoir, I think the tone was perfect.  There are parts of the book where Samuelsson sounds a bit too cocky--but, he admits as much partway through it anyway.  And you'd probably be pretty cocky too, if you had the rise to food stardom that he did.  He's earned his swagger.  However, despite the arrogance that occasionally leaked through, it didn't turn me off because Samuelsson also spends large sections of the book admitting to his life's mistakes.  He may be near-perfect in the kitchen, but that has not translated to all areas of his life.  He has cheated on girlfriends, been a terrible (though trying to reform) father, and had one restaurant venture that was a total flop.  His ability to frankly tell all areas of his story (personal and professional, success and failure) brought a strong sense of honesty to the text.  It also helps you envision Samuelsson's journey toward maturity throughout his life, which is crucial in a memoir that spans so much time.

One aspect of Samuelsson's personal journey that particularly fascinated me was his racial identity.  He is truly a "man of the world": born in Ethiopia, adopted and raised in Sweden, culinary training in the US, Austria, France, Switzerland...the list goes on.  In each situation, his racial identity was challenged and reshaped.  For example, in Sweden, he says he is often seen as part of the "new Sweden", a more modern and multicultural population in that country.  On the flip side, in the US, he is grouped either as an African American, or an immigrant, which carries different meaning than it does in other countries.  He has taken these various histories and made them a part of himself.  That is best illustrated in his latest restaurant creation, Red Rooster, which is based in Harlem and attempts to bring together the enormous variety of cultures there.  Samuelsson places a high importance on helping black culinary students find success in the kitchen, and his passion for this shines through on the page.

And the food?  (This IS a food memoir...I have to talk about the food!)  The food will make your mouth water.  Reading the descriptions of his various menus and kitchen experiments will have you running to the phone to make a dinner reservation, ASAP.  Samuelsson's creativity with international ingredients is truly amazing, and it is intriguing to see how that skill developed as he moved to new restaurants and lived in different countries.

Overall: this is a fantastic memoir, for foodies and non-foodies alike.  Even if you've never seen a single second of Marcus Samuelsson on TV, I guarantee that his personal journey will be enough for you to delve into his book.  And the next time I'm in NYC, you better believe I will be trying to make a reservation at Red Rooster.

Other reviews of Yes, Chef:
A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust
Black Girl Lost...In A Book
Buckling Bookshelves

Have you read any good food memoirs lately?  If foodie nonfiction's not your thing, do you think you'd give one a try anyway if the personal side of the memoir was interesting?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Whatcha readin'?

Did you get any good reading done this weekend, friends?

The husband, Small Fry, and I had a nice relaxing weekend at home.  Hubs and I finally watched Argo on Friday night, which was awesome.  And then we watched Syracuse lose on Saturday night, which was EXTRA AWESOME.  (UConn may not be tourney-eligible this year, but that doesn't mean my disdain for Duke and Syracuse has waned.)

The temperature continues to slowly chug its way upwards, so we spent a good amount of time outside.  All fun, except for when Small Fry took a big digger in the driveway.  Now he's got a nice case of road rash on his face.  Ah, the life of a toddler boy.  I told him to tell all his friends that he got in a fight with a 3-year-old.  You can't start the street cred too early.

Between all that and playing way too much Candy Crush (that game WILL be the end of me), I did get a good amount of reading done, finishing up Found Objects by Peter Gelfan (review to come tomorrow!). 

As for what I'm reading now:

Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson

It begins with a simple ritual: Every Saturday afternoon, a boy who loves to cook walks to his grandmother’s house and helps her prepare a roast chicken for dinner. The grandmother is Swedish, a retired domestic. The boy is Ethiopian and adopted, and he will grow up to become the world-renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson. This book is his love letter to food and family in all its manifestations. (from Goodreads )

Yes, I am finally reading one of the food books I got from the library!!  I have been dying to read Samuelsson's memoir (released a few months ago).  I adore many of the Food Network stars, including Samuelsson, and I've heard that his road to food glory was a unique one.  I just started this, can't wait to share with all of you.

The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne

Josh Hanagarne couldn’t be invisible if he tried. Although he wouldn’t officially be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome until his freshman year of high school, Josh was six years old and onstage in a school Thanksgiving play when he first began exhibiting symptoms. By the time he was twenty, the young Mormon had reached his towering adult height of 6’7” when—while serving on a mission for the Church of Latter Day Saints—his Tourette’s tics escalated to nightmarish levels.

Determined to conquer his affliction, Josh underwent everything from quack remedies to lethargy-inducing drug regimes to Botox injections that paralyzed his vocal cords and left him voiceless for three years. Undeterred, Josh persevered to marry and earn a degree in Library Science. At last, an eccentric, autistic strongman—and former Air Force Tech Sergeant and guard at an Iraqi prison—taught Josh how to “throttle” his tics into submission through strength-training.

Today, Josh is a librarian in the main branch of Salt Lake City’s public library and founder of a popular blog about books and weight lifting—and the proud father of four-year-old Max, who has already started to show his own symptoms of Tourette’s.

The World’s Strongest Librarian illuminates the mysteries of this little-understood disorder, as well as the very different worlds of strongman training and modern libraries. With humor and candor, this unlikely hero traces his journey to overcome his disability— and navigate his wavering Mormon faith—to find love and create a life worth living.
Goodreads )

Just starting this interesting memoir as well!  I have an ARC from NetGalley that I couldn't resist, because Hanagarne's story sounds so intriguing.  The book is released next month, and I've already heard a lot of great reviews.

Don't Go by Lisa Scottoline

When Dr. Mike Scanlon is called to serve as an army doctor in Afghanistan, he’s acutely aware of the dangers he’ll face and the hardships it will cause his wife Chloe and newborn baby. And deep inside, he doesn’t think of himself as a warrior, but a healer.

However, in an ironic turn of events, as Mike operates on a wounded soldier in a war-torn country, Chloe dies at home in the suburbs, in an apparent household accident. Devastated, he returns home to bury her, only to discover that the life he left behind has fallen apart. His medical practice is in jeopardy, and he is a complete stranger to the only family he has left - his precious baby girl. Worse, he learns a shocking secret that sends him into a downward spiral.

Ultimately, Mike realizes that the most important battle of his life faces him on the home front and he’ll have to put it all on the line to save what’s dearest to him – his family.
Goodreads )

This is my current audiobook.  I had a somewhat lukewarm reaction to my first Lisa Scottoline read last year ( Look Again ), but I do think she comes up with twisty, unexpected plots, so I decided to give this one a shot.  It's definitely keeping my interest so far as I try to figure out what happened to Chloe, and how Mike is going to work through it.  Kind of a women's fiction novel from a man's POV, which is cool.

What will be coming up next? 
My two top contenders for my next read: Frozen In Time by Mitchell Zuckoff, and The Honest Toddler: A Child's Guide to Parenting by Bunmi Laditan.  Words cannot do justice to how FREAKIN' STOKED I am about that book.  Review coming soon!
Imagination Designs