Sunday, June 27, 2010

Jamie Does... - Jamie Oliver.

Jamie returns... with yet another wonderfully and lovingly penned travel-recipe-logue. After reading a few of his books and watching what he did with Fifteen Foundation, I think this world would seriously be a better place if we have more individuals like him. He inspires a whole lot of others to, in the words of Michael Jackson, make a little space, make a better place.

In his new book, Jamie's recipes are borrowed from the various countries which he had traveled to, namely Spain, Morocco, France, Italy, Greece and Sweden. He shares on how his perspective had been widen through the different cooking processes that were embraced and practised by all these unique local cultures. Jamie shows us how to steal a great idea and makes it his own with appropriate quotations to what and who inspired him. Never, ever copy someone else's idea. That's just wrong.

Even if you're not a fan of cooking, this book is a keeper because of all those interesting photos that were spontaneously nevertheless carefully captured in the moment. It will spark the travel bug in you.

Now the part which I love love love most that Jamie shared was:

Something France really gets right is the way it fights to protect the heritage and integrity of its food product and producers. So cheeses, butter, wine and other agricultural products with a history and tradition that make them unique are protected by the AOC label (Appellation d’origine contrôlée, or 'controlled term of origin'). This means that the artisan producers who make Roquefort cheese, for example, are monitored to make sure they are making their cheese in the traditional way, using the proper ingredients and ageing the cheese in the same caves at Roquefort-sur-Soulzon they've always aged in. Only then can that cheese be called Roquefort.

Seriously, seriously. It's not just the quality of the product that will be guaranteed, but local heritage, tradition and artisans will also be secured. For example, Ipoh white coffee must:

1) Use beans which have been roasted with palm-oil margarine without any sugar
2) Be served with condensed milk
3) And above all, MADE IN IPOH.

Which means, Ipoh white coffee is protected as a national heritage product which deserves its own patent in this country. Which also means, not every Tom, Dick and Harry can claim they too have Ipoh white coffee. Aik Cheong, Old Town, Ali Baba, Tan Cheong, Whatever and most of all NESTLE. What does a German know about Ipoh white coffee!? You get my point.

Anyway, back to the book. So to widen your horizons especially when we realise that food, travel and culture intermix like a marble cake, this book is a definite keeper :) Enjoy!

Monday, June 21, 2010

She's Leaving Home - Monica Trapaga.

I got hooked because the cover was nice. And each page that follows was nice. The whole book was nice. To look at. Because I'm not a very fervent cook, neither am I very good at it. But I get inspired by creative and motherly cooks to be a better person. How is that so? When life gives you a lemon, you make zest out of it. That's how.

Monica Trapaga is a mother of many and an extremely big hearted cook. From her personal notes and the way she speaks of each personal recipe (now available to everyone), just shows how much love she has for people. I think she's the ultimate connection between Man and Raw Ingredients :) Her pots and pans are like magic wands that zap heartiness into each meal.

My favourite quote: There is nothing more satisfying that homemade soup. Whenever I've wanted to let a person know that I really love and care for them, I make them soup. It fortifies the soul and seeps into every nook and cranny of the body, rejuvenating, nourishing and energising with love

Okay. My mission from now on to all I love: SOUP ;)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Where the Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak.

I never got to watch the film because it was never shown in Malaysia. What a pity because I was really anticipating another great children story on screen. The first time I read the book was in one of those really cosy bookstores on the backlanes of Auckland. I don't know why I didn't get it. Nevertheless, fate brought us back together and this time, I bought and took it home.

Trust me, it only takes 5 minutes for you to finish the book. But another 55 to relish on the intricate techniques done on the sketches. We all want adventures, to venture into the unknown and live in an exciting surroundings. But when all that's done, we think of home and just want to be with people we love. And of course, who can resist the supper that comfort our tummies :)

High Adventure: The Story of the National Geographic Society.

Arguably, one of the most inspiring read of all times! I used to think NatGeo was for boring scientists and couch potatoes who have nothing better to watch on TV. I was so wrong.

National Geographic Society was started by a group of kindred souls who wanted to explore the world and bring these stories back to their fellow countrymen, to expand knowledge and expound popular beliefs. And every year, every decade as they trudged on to the highest point beyond earth to the lowest depth of it, the society has evolved into becoming one of the world's most authoritative journalism in geographic and scientific exploration.

This is my favourite quote from the society's first President, Gardiner Greene Hubbard: "The members of our Society will not be confined to professional geographers, but will include that large number who, like myself, desire to promote special researches by others, and to diffuse the knowledge... so that we may all know more of the world upon which we live." Yes, such was his invitation to explore. And I (like millions of other ardent followers of NatGeo) readily accepts it :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories - Tim Burton.

It's simple. Makes sense when it's not expected to and doesn't make sense to keep you wondering. This is the second time I read it, the first when I flicked someone else's. Well, now I have my own :)

True to Tim Burton's fashion, Oyster Boy and other stories is indeed... melancholic. It explores the dark side of childhood, only adults will hang their head in shame... because the truth portrayed in Burton's short stories, strikes a chord. At least once in their life, they must have mistreated someone just because he or she doesn't conform to what they think 'normal' is. And it breaks hearts.

Read it, borrow it.