Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Review: Rum

This spare tome covers considerable territory as it surveys the history of rum on a global scale. Beginning with its sketchy origins on the 16th century sugar cane plantations of Brazil and the Caribbean, the book traces the spirit's growing popularity and diversity up to the present day.

As the title suggests, this is a "global" story that ventures far beyond the Caribbean where many similar histories drop anchor. It covers rum smuggling, the triangle trade, rum runners and tiki bars.

While early descriptions of the molasses-based spirit refer to it as a "hot, hellish, and terrible liquor," today rum is best known as the base alcohol in tiki bar staples such as the mai tai, blue Hawaii, and piƱa colada.

A Global History
by Richard Foss
Reaktion Books, 2012

continued in The Book Stall

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Review: Home Sausage Making

Making sausage at home is easier than you might think. Peoples all around the world have been making sausage in all kinds of conditions with all kinds of meats for centuries. It's a dandy means of preserving meat and it uses up the scraps -- "everything from snout to tail except for the squeal" -- that might otherwise go to waste.

Both an instructional guide and a cookbook, this text covers the techniques and equipment required for making sausages and then delves into specific recipes for sausages make from pork, beef, lamb, venison, poultry, seafood and a combination of meats. There's even a selection of vegetarian recipes.

The third and final section of the book is dedicated to "Cooking with Sausage," providing recipes and serving suggestions for sausage dishes at almost any meal.

How-To Techniques for Making and Enjoying 100 Sausages at Home 
by Susan Mahnke Peery and Charles G. Reavis  
Storey Books, 2003
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Monday, January 20, 2014

Interfering with Vegetal Life

"We are not, strictly speaking, the others of plants, since we obviously do not fall under the category of the 'elementally inorganic,' nor are we the same as they are, though we do participate in many of the processes defining vegetal soul. 
"When humans interfere with the conditions of vegetal growth - for
instance, by altering the temperature of a hothouse - they come to mediate the unidirectional relation of plants to their other. Such interference may also be indirect and perhaps unintentional, as in the desertification of vast areas of the globe, partly attributable to human activity and in any event detrimental for vegetal life. Or it may be barely noticeable when we merely contemplate wildflowers during a walk in the woods. 
"To the extent that we practically engage with vegetal beings, we interpose ourselves in the place of what is other to them, the place that does not inherently belong to us. Human usurption not only of our place in the sun but also of the very place of the sun vis-a-vis plants is increasingly the source of our metaphysical domination over them today."
excerpted from:
A Philosophy of Vegetal Life
by Michael Marder
Columbia University Press, 2013

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Reading the History: Food

Grow Food, Cook Food, Share Food is a practical food history lesson, an editorial on our use of packaged convenience foods, and a call to arms — of the kitchen variety. Mixing food writing and history, adding a dash of cookbook, author and scholar Ken Albala shares the story of what happened when he started taking food history seriously and embarked on a mission to grow, cook, and share food in the ways that people did in the past.

A rare form of historical activism, Grow Food, Cook Food, Share Food is written for anyone who likes to eat, loves to cook, and knows how to throw a great dinner party.

Perspectives on Eating from the Past and a Preliminary Agenda for the Future
by Ken Albala
Oregon State University Press, 2013
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Reading the History: Gold

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the price of gold skyrocketed—in three years more than doubling from $800 an ounce to $1900. This massive spike drove an unprecedented global gold-mining and exploration boom, much bigger than the Gold Rush of the 1800s.

In Gold, author Matthew Hart makes a journey around the world and through history to tell the story of how gold became the world’s most precious commodity.

The Race for the World's Most Seductive Metal
by Matthew Hart
Simon & Schuster, 2013
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