Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Adding pages, losing ground.

Meatspace events and issues have been distracting,my apologies. An encounter, not finished, with the legal system (witness, not defendant); family beach vacation, always fun and relaxing; health hi-jinks. We missed a couple weeks of the veggie challenge, more lost ground.

On the bright side, actually finished a book. Diane Johnson's Into a Paris Quartier: Reine Margot's chapel and other haunts of St.-Germain, where Johnson lives half the year. Evocative and anecdotal, it would be interesting to use Google Street View neighborhood photographs for the electronic version. One could never get away with that in Germany....

Endpapers in sight is Serve the People: A stir-fried journey through China, by Jen Lin-Liu. I've enjoyed this fascinating narrative of a young food blogger getting her cooking certificate at a Chinese cooking school. Food centered adventures follow: seeking the source of dumplings;trailing an up-and-coming chef in a New Shanghai cuisine restaurant; working the noodle stall circuit; and finally, hutong (urban compounds based around a central courtyard) cooking : home. Lin-Liu , blogger, professional writer, and cooking school founder (Black Sesame Cooking School, Beijing) introduces us to many vivid characters in a rapidly changing land. Highly recommended. Waiting in the wings is another China-related title, The Man who Loved China:The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom, by Simon Winchester. Years ago I read The Hermit of Peking, another story of a westerner living in the Middle Kingdom, so Winchester's work will continue that reading tangent.

I purchased it, along with Lords of the Sea: The Epic Story of the Athenian Navy and the Birth of Democracy, at Beach Book Mart in Atlantic Beach, NC. Good prices, quirky selection,and located next to a puzzle and kite store, another annual stop. I usually can find something I cannot live without in both stores. Makes me feel good, which I needed after starting Anne Applebaum's Gulag, which sis-in-law, for some reason, brought to the beach.