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Friday, August 31, 2007

Signs of Fall

One of the first signs of fall is the opening of the Hopkinton State Fair. One after another other fairs will open--Rochester, Deerfield, the Big E, Topsfield, and before you know it, Thanksgiving will be here!

There really is something for everyone at the fair. If your interest is animals, there are all kinds from cavies to cows. If you like machinery, there are tractors and plows. If you are a "as seen on tv" fan, there are the exhibit areas where you can get your eyeglasses cleaned and your shoulders massaged. I don't know too many people who can't find something to eat at the fair. There are the calorific fried dough stands, but there are also vendors who sell salads. And, if you can afford the extra carbs, there are some fabulous fruit pies to savor!


If just the mention of state fairs results in an earworm that plagues you for the rest of the day ("Our state fair is the best state fair, don't miss it, don't even be late. It's dollars to donuts that our state fair is the best state fair in our state."), then stop by and borrow our copy of Roger and Hammerstein's State Fair [DVD STA].

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ah, the Joys of a Summer Garden


Elaine regaled us with the story of her backyard woodchuck. It seems she spied him in a tree eating her peaches. Who knew woodchucks could climb trees? I looked it up, and sure enough, they are quite good at it, AND, they swim well, too! I guess suggesting a moat won't work! (I read online, "Drowning is an option, but woodchucks can apparently live for at least 15 minutes underwater." So, not only can they swim, but they're very good at holding their breath! Maybe we could get a bunch of them together for a synchronized swim team!)

We have several books on dealing with garden pests, but not much space is devoted to the woodchuck! These two at least offer some advice (including extermination):

Bradley, Fern Marshall. Vegetable Garden Problem Solver. [635.049 BRA]

McCord, Nancy. Please Don't Eat My Garden! [635.0496 MCC]

I found a whole website devoted to woodchuck control! It's a commercial site, so be prepared to spend a little money to be rid of your garden visitor. It might be cheaper not to plant a garden at all! But, who can resist late summer's ripe, red, juicy tomatoes?

To learn a little about the life cycle of the cute little furry guy, try this children's book, Wonders of Woodchucks by Sigmund A. Lavine [J 599.32 LAV].

I think the Quakers have the best idea--plant enough so that you have one-third to share or sell, one-third for the critters, and one-third for yourself!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Kids Count

There's good reason to be happy to be a citizen of New Hampshire. Of course there's the scenery--mountains, the coastline (short though it may be), the lakes. And, there is our first in the nation primary fame, and our Secretary of State who leads the way in promoting fair elections, but, did you know NH ranks #2 in the Kids Count survey of child well-being (actually it's down from #1, but still great considering our size). Not familiar with Kids Count? Here's a brief description:
This new database, launched in July 2005, contains more than 75 measures of child well-being, including the 10 measures used in our annual KIDS COUNT Data Book. It includes the most timely data available on Education, Employment and Income, Poverty, Health, Basic Demographics, and Youth Risk Factors for the U.S., all 50 states, and D.C. Depending on availability, three to five years of trend data is currently available for most indicators.

One place we rank #1 is in the percentage of children in households without a computer. In NH it is only 17%. Ranking #50 is Mississippi at 47%. Our children are truly privileged! (Yet even with computers in 83% of homes, computer use here in our library continues to grow. In July of 2003, there were 216 computer uses; in July of this year, we had 687--more than 3 times the number of 2003!)

Although we rank #2 in the percentage of 8th graders who read at or above proficiency level (Massachusetts is #1 and we share #2 position with Maine), that percentage is still only 38%. Think about it, that means that less than 4 in 10 of our middle-schoolers can read well! I think there's still work to be done!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Use It Up


During WW II there was a little slogan used to encourage thrift and conservation, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."

We have become a throw-away society in the past 60 years, but, there are some people who are working to stem the tide.

We've recently added a book to our craft collection called, Fabric Leftovers, by D'Arcy-Jean Milne [746 MIL]. Rather than throw out small scraps of fabric, you can turn them into some interesting things such as beads, boxes, and more.

If you are concerned about throwing away used clothing that may have some life left in its threads, then look for a way to turn it into something else. There is the old-fashioned braided rug, which you can learn how to make using The Braided Rug Book: Creating Your Own American Folk Art by Norma M. Sturges [746.7 STU]. Alternacrafts by Jessica Vitkus [YA 745.5 VIT] has instructions for creating a shaggy rag rug out of tee-shirts (who doesn't have a bajillion old tee-shirts?). Another young adult title is Second-Time Cool: The Art of Chopping Up a Sweater by Anna-Stina Kinden Ivarsson [YA 646.408 LIN]. You won't believe some of the ways sweaters are made over!

To encourage your own kids to think about reuse, Simms Taback's Caldecott Award winning book, Joseph Had a Little Overcoat [JP TAB], teaches a lesson through a delightful story.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Football Season

Football season is here. Come to the library and see the football, and New England Patriots, items that we have put into our display case.

Here are some of our Patriots items (we have lots more, especially for kids):

Felger, Michael. Tales from the Patriots Sidelines. [796.332 FEL]

Halberstam, David. The Education of a Coach. [B BEL, also AB/CD B BRA]

Holley, Michael. Patriot Reign: Bill Belichick, the Coaches, and the Players Who Built a Champion. [796.332 HOL]


Pierce, Charles P. Moving Chains: Tom Brady and the Pursuit of Everything. [B BRA]

If truth be known, football is not something of interest to me. But, I try to keep our library users (I'm talking to you, Larry) happy! If I did develop a desire to watch a game, I'd head right to the shelves for our copy of Football for Dummies by Howie Long [796.332 LON].


The following joke is okay, because I'm of Polish descent:

Did you hear that the new football stadium in Warsaw had to be torn down? No matter where you sat, you were behind a Pole!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Popcorn Festival


Okay, so we're not really having a festival, but we are firing up the popcorn cart and serving popcorn this afternoon! (As well as having a cookout potluck.) We'll have popcorn art for the kids, too!

What we're really celebrating is the end to a fabulous summer at the library. We've broken all kinds of circulation (items checked out) records, and we've had an incredible number of children partake in our summer reading programs. Visit our website to take a look at some of our event pictures.

But back to the popcorn. We decided to purchase a popcorn maker so that we always have snacks on hand for our programs. We've already used it at Vehicle Day and we're looking forward to many movie nights in the future.

Of course, we have plenty of books to go along with the theme of popcorn:

Giedt, Frances. Popcorn!: 60 Irresistible Recipes for Everyone's Favorite Snack. [641.65 GIE]

Kudlinski, Kathleen V. Popcorn Plants. [J 635.677 KUD]

Landau, Elaine. Popcorn! [J641.6 LAN]

And there's one of my old favorites by Frank Asch, Popcorn [JP ASC] in which Bear has a party and all the guests bring popcorn. The house is filled with popcorn and the only way to clean it up is to eat it!

To see what is planned for a real Popcorn Festival, visit the Marion, Ohio Popcorn Festival site. The people running the festival are having a popcorn recipe contest. If you want to enter, you'd better hurry, the deadline is Monday, 8/27. The only thing is, if you win, they expect you to bring a sample to Ohio!

And, of course, there's a popcorn museum! There's a museum for just about everything!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Goodnight, Sleep Tight


Growing up, part of my bedtime ritual was the little ditty, "Goodnight, sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite."

I'd always thought that bedbugs were a thing of the past. But not so, according to a segment on NPR's Morning Edition. An exterminator from Washington, D.C. said, bedbugs started reappearing about 10 years ago, and "And ever since then, it's been exponentially increasing — that's the only way to describe it."

Uh oh! Now there's something else to concern yourself with when you go traveling--bedbugs!

Never seen one? Check out one of our books on insects such as L. Patricia Kite's Blood-Feeding Bugs and Beasts [J 591.53 KIT] or Bugs of the World by George C. McGavin [595.7 MCG].

The scientific name for the bedbug is cimex lectularius. Cimex = bug, lectus = bed or couch.

Try sleeping tight tonight!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Documentary Film Making

The field of documentary film making seems to have grown quite a bit over the past few years with several documentaries being shown as features in regular theaters (as opposed to small art houses). A few examples are Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth [DVD 363.73874 GOR] and Michael Moore's Sicko, which is currently being shown around the country.

Thirty or forty years ago, documentaries were made to be shown on television, but with the dumbing down of American culture, television, unless it's PBS or one of the cable channels, is no longer in the picture. So, film makers are now using the power of the internet to get people interested in their films.

Two women, greatly disturbed by what they found in their children's lunch rooms, decided to fight the system of feeding kids in school, with a documentary. Their film is called, Two Angry Moms, and is being distributed online. If anyone is interested in viewing it, I'd suggest contacting me, and perhaps we could set up a viewing and discussion here at the library.

Several years back I saw Supersize Me [DVD 613.2 SUP] on the big screen, and I don't think I've had a Big Mac since. So, if anyone is wondering if documentary films have an effect on their viewers, then I can say "yes."

Here's a sample of other documentary films in our collection:

Enron. The Smartest Guys in the Room. [DVD 658.42 ENR]

The Up Series. [DVD 155.9 UP]

Wordplay. [DVD 793.732 WOR]

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That--August '07 edition

Did you hear that, Sunday morning, a bike race up Mt. Washington was canceled due to extreme weather? It's only mid-August! It doesn't bode well for a mild winter, does it? If you are a mountain bike enthusiast, try some of the other locations found in Mountain Biking New Hampshire's State Parks and Forests by Linda Chestney [917.42 CHE].

There's an amazing corn maze that you can visit right here in NH. (Thanks to Terrie for directing me to the site.) I'm horribly directionally challenged, so I might skip it, but it is fun to see an aerial view of the complex design.


Are you one of those people who cringe when a little girl will only wear pink, only carry a pink bag, only read pink books, etc.? A touch of pink is fine, but pink overload can be a bit cloying. Well, a recent study found that a fondness for pink may be in our genes! It helped women gatherers to find ripe fruits and berries, and, insured their and their family's survival. So, I guess I should embrace those books like Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann [JP KAN] and Double Pink by Kate Feiffer [JP FEI] that are so popular with little girls.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Written Works of Art about Art

I think it's rather interesting how writers can revolve a whole work of fiction around a work of art.

Take for instance, Arturo Perez-Reverte's The Flanders Panel [F PER]. The panel is a Flemish painting that is being cleaned by Julia, an art expert. Julia discovers, through an x-ray, the words, "Who killed the knight?" Oooh...you know there's a mystery that's going to unfold!

Then there's the short, but very popular book discussion group choice, Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier [F CHE, also in a film version DVD GIR]. In this novel Chevalier weaves a story around Vermeer's portrait's subject, a young woman who works as a maid in his home.

The real work of art has its own website, too, The Girl with a Pearl Earring: An In-Depth Study.


A recently published novel is Leonardo's Swans by Karen Essex [F ESS]. This book, too, is a story about the models for a work. The publisher describes it this way, "LEONARDO'S SWANS is the story of the powerful Este sisters, Beatrice, Duchess of Milan, and Isabella, Marchesa of Mantua, as they compete for the affections of Italy's most influential prince, the Duke of Milan, and for the larger prize, to be immortalized in oil by his court painter and engineer, Leonardo da Vinci."

Oscar Wilde's only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (in Plays, Prose Writing and Poems [822 WIL]) is also about a painting. The Picture of Dorian Gray was made into a film in 1945. I'll have to find it and add it to our collection. I do remember it being disturbing when I saw it on television many years ago.

Poet, Robert Browning, made a portrait the subject of one his poems, "My Last Duchess" (in Poems of Robert Browning [821 BRO]).

Sir, 'twas not
Her husband's presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess' cheek


Might I suggest a visit to one of our local art museums? Borrow one of the library's passes. Wander the galleries and peer into the worlds created by great artists. Perhaps you'll be inspired to create a story, too!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Murder Comedy

I've never had the least inclination toward writing a murder mystery. I'm not a puzzle type person. But, a murder comedy, would be right up my alley.

I was driving into work this morning and listening to the BBC. One report stated that five ex-security officers in South Africa were given a suspended sentence for attempting to murder an anti-apartheid activist back in 1989. Fortunately, the victim wasn't harmed, but here's the twist that led me to think about "murder comedy"--the planned murder method was "lacing his underwear with a nerve toxin."

I'll leave you to come up with your own story lines, but if you need to do any research on poisons and forensics, you can start at the library with Richard A. Stripp's The Forensic Aspects of Poison [614.13 STR]. Give your detective a leg-up by using the scientific approach found in the examples in The Casebook of Forensic Detection by Colin Evans [614.1 EVA].

A recent true case of fatal poisoning is covered in Death of a Dissident: The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB by Alex Goldfarb [327.1247 GOL] Sorry, no funny stuff here.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Hunka Hunka Burnin' Love

On this day in 1977, Elvis Presley, "The King of Rock and Roll," died. Most stars pass and within years their memory has faded nearly away. Not Presley. Graceland, the home he built in Memphis, has become a tourist attraction with more than 600,000 visitors a year. The Elvis impersonator movement continues to grow with new gatherings, competitions, etc. every year. I've found a site for skydiving Elvi! And, if you're lucky enough to live in the Chicago area there are numerous Elvi events planned for this week!

Elvis has become the subject of many works of fiction--including several for children! Here are a few:

Buckley, William F., Jr. Elvis in the Morning. [F BUC]



Henson, Laura J. Ten Little Elvi. [JP HEN]

Lowry, Jonathan. Elvis and Nixon. [F LOW]

Thomas, Diane Coulter. The Year That Music Changed: The Letters of Achsa McEachern-Isaacs and Elvis Presley. [F THO]

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Web Design

I figured it's about time I developed a website for my other life as a children's writer. To start, I looked up the sites of dozens of children's writers and illustrators. If you want an instant headache, try visiting some sites of children's writers and illustrators! You'll see everything from gawdawful to flashy to the max. I saw fire engine red backgrounds, loud, scary music, and illustrations where heads open up to present the author's thoughts! There were, sprinkled in, a few quite impressive sites, too.

So, what do I want? Classy, but with a sense of humor. Colorful but not brash. Simple by design, not by lack of talent.

Where to start? The easiest way would be to hire a professional web designer, but who has the money? Next would be to investigate some freeware website building software. If I had lots of money, I might want to buy a high end commercial software product. For now, I'm studying some of our books on web design such as How to Do Everything With HTML by James H. Pence [001.64 PEN] or Web Design Tools and Techniques by Peter Kentie [006.6 KEN]. At the very least I'm learning what the elements of a website are called! And, as an added bonus, these titles have to power to put me to sleep, so I can use them on those nights when I'm tossing and turning and restless from trying to design the perfect website!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Missed Opportunities

Twice this summer I've been disappointed to hear that small museums had closed. For me, the sad part is, I had delayed visiting them and now they are gone.

Five years ago I researched a book on the World War II homefront. I have maintained an interest in the era. Last fall, a friend told me about a recently opened museum on Franklin D. Roosevelt. The museum, in Worcester, was only an hour's ride. I had planned visiting in the spring, but of course, things came up. Well, the museum had to close suddenly (the City of Worcester forced them out to accommodate a tenant who was willing to pay more in rent). So, by July, the museum was gone! Fortunately, it will reopen, but even further away in Chicopee, MA!

Then, there's the Museum of Childhood in Wakefield, NH. Years ago I had heard about this collection of toys in a museum run by two former teachers. I should have gone to see it. The ironic thing is, I saw the toy collection in Rochester, NY's Strong National Museum of Play, which is about an 8 hour drive from here! In Sunday's Union Leader there was an article about the collection being auctioned off. Another missed opportunity.

I guess the lesson here is, don't put off doing things!

Of course, I can always read a book about F.D.R. such as No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Homefront in World War II by Doris Kearns Goodwin [973.917 GOO], or browse through the pages of Toys and Prices, 2007 [688.72 TOY], but somehow it's not the same.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bye, Karl

You've probably heard the news by now--presidential advisor, Karl Rove has resigned. If you'd like to read about his long association with the president up through 2001, look for Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential by James Moore [973.931 MOO]. Fascinating reading!

Also interesting is the prospect of G. W. Bush's next sixteen months without Rove! Stay tuned.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Opposable Thumbs


You can find books about everything under the sun. Here's one that features opposable thumbs.

Cazet, Denys. Minnie and Moo Go Dancing. [E CAZ]

Minnie and Moo are two cows who, one night, take turns wishing. Moo's wish--"I wish for a nice pair of thumbs." Poor Minnie is puzzled, "Thumbs?"

"We are only cows, " said Moo sadly. "Without thumbs...we will never dance." And therein lies the story!


Enjoy your gift of opposable thumbs and hold a book in your hands this weekend and read!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Social What?

"Social software" is a term that you may not be familiar with, but, I'm sure you've heard of its most famous example--MySpace. There are others, too--Facebook, YouTube, Flickr. These are all ways of sharing with friends, and, making new friends, online. Here's an article from Wikipedia on the subject. (Don't know about Wikipedia? Then click here.)


If you're completely in the dark. Then perhaps you should visit the library, and look for these titles:

Kelsey, Candice M. Generation MySpace: Helping Your Teen Survive Online Adolescence. [305.235 KEL]

Tapscott, Don. Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. [658.046 TAP]

If you're in business, you'd better familiarize yourself with the social networking movement--it's coming your way! If you decide to join in, make sure you do it right, here are a few hints.

Keeping up on social software is as easy as clicking on Social Software News. If you're like me, just about the time you become familiar with this social networking business, the kids will have started something new! It's just one of the joys of aging--being constantly two steps behind!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Instant Books

First there was instant coffee, then instant breakfast and instant noodle soup, what's next? Instant books! Last Thursday's New York Times had an article about the "Espresso Book Machine" that was recently installed in one of the branches of the New York Public Library. Supposedly a 300 page book can be printed in 15 minutes. The machine sells for $20,000. The reporter spoke with a Mr. Heller from the firm that sells the machines.

Why bother? The machine, Mr. Neller said, is for the "far end of the back list," those books that are out of print or for which there is so little demand that it would be too costly to print a few hundred copies, let alone one.

With the machine, Mr. Neller said, anything available in a portable document format, or PDF, including Grandfather’s memoirs and Ph.D. dissertations, can be printed in minutes as long as a computer can read it.



This is all fine and dandy, but how many of those backlist items are available in PDF form? I doubt if Grandpa's memoirs are. I doubt if a long out-of-print copy of a favorite book from your youth would be available as a PDF! Who's going to put all the backlist items into PDF format?

"A rare book available only to scholars, let’s say, would now be available to anyone," Mr. Neller said. "Let’s say you want a book in Tagalog, a book in French or a book in Spanish. Think of the implications for universal knowledge!"

The article failed to state how one might access these PDF files.


I'm not sure you'll see the Espresso Book Machine around here anytime soon. Inventing the Twentieth Century: 100 Inventions That Shaped the World: from the Airplane to the Zipper by Stephen Van Dulken [609 VAN] covers important inventions of the last century. When the 21st century is over, will the Espresso Book Machine be one of the inventions that shaped our world, or will it be one of those that appear in a book like Daniel H. Wilson's Where's My Jetpack? A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future That Never Arrived [AB/CD 600 WIL].

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Announcing the Winners

...of our Art Car contest. We've divided it into 2 categories, children's and adult entries. I don't know why, but not a lot of adults entered! Art is for everyone--not just kids! Here are our winners:

Adult:


"Retro Happy" Car by Katie Webster


Children's:



"Mercedes Beanz" by Niki K. (age 10 1/2)



"Sox Car" by Chad R. (age 8)



"Love to Read Mobile" by Marina (age 7)



Here's one of our winners receiving her prize.


Now, for those adults who think they can't do art, I have this to say--YES YOU CAN! Go for it!

He who wants milk should not sit himself in the middle of a pasture waiting for a cow to back up to him. ~Anonymous~

Monday, August 06, 2007

Vehicle Day!

Vehicle Day on Saturday was fantastic! I'll let the photos do the talking:



Creating vehicle art courtesy of the Currier Gallery.




One HUGE wrecker!

View from the driver's seat.


Popcorn time!


Library Director, Carl Heidenblad's bike. Whatever you do, don't stand on the tailpipe! Carl gets a little testy when you do that!





Here comes the fire department crew!

Crowds wait to see the inside of Engine #1.

Wowed by the inside of the limo.

Taking a break!


Construction equipment rules!







Look at what's inside the police car!



After a morning of work, the Johnson's Farm tractor pulls into the parking lot!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Coming Up This Weekend


Don't forget that tomorrow, August 4, from 10 am to noon, the library will be hosting "Vehicle Day." There will be a motorcyle, a limo, a fire truck, and more parked at the library for you to examine. There'll also be popcorn served from a little red popcorn cart!

Although the weather is supposed to be fine for Sunday, you may want to stay home for a BookTV (on C-Span 2) special with E.O. Wilson. Here's the blurb announcing it:

A monthly LIVE author interview, featuring your calls
Sunday 12 PM-3 PM ET, re-airs Sunday at midnight ET

Join us for a conversation with author Edward O. Wilson. Pulitzer Prize-winner and biologist Edward O. Wilson has taught at Harvard University since the mid-1950's, and is currently a research professor there. Mr. Wilson was named one of America's 25 most influential people by Time Magazine in 1996. His books include: Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, On Human Nature, The Ants, The Diversity of Life, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth, and Nature Revealed: Selected Writings 1949-2006.

You can join this three-hour conversation by e-mailing your question to booktv@c-span.org or by calling in during the program: East/Central 202-737-0001 Mountain/Pacific 202-737-0002.

I wrote about Wilson after seeing him on Bill Moyers Journal. He's a fascinating individual.

New Hampshire's Own

Wonderful news--for the second time in a row, a New Hampshire poet has been named to the post of U.S. Poet Laureate by the Library of Congress. Charles Simic follows poet Donald Hall in the job. Do you think it's something in the water?

Not familiar with his work? Pick up Walking the Black Cat: Poems [811 SIM] or The World Doesn't End: Prose Poems [811 SIM].

Here's a Simic poem that's appropriate for a hot summer's day:

Watermelons

Green Buddhas
On the fruit stand.
We eat the smile
And spit out the teeth.

Sorry to have to follow good news with some rather sad news. Irish singer, and longtime NH resident, Tommy Makem, passed away on Wednesday. He was a wonderful ambassador for the state.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

I Am SO Over It!

Here's the Urban Dictionary "word of the day" for today:

post-Potter depression

The empty feeling that comes from finishing the seventh book in the Harry Potter series and realizing there will be no more.

Lucy started reading the Golden Compass books to fight her post-Potter depression but she said she just kept waiting for Voldemort to show up.


The whole Harry Potter-last-book-hoopla started way back in December 2006, and I don't know about you, but I'm sick of it. Thank goodness, it's over is all I can say!

Let's move on. There are thousands of other books waiting to be read. We have close to 71,000 in the Nesmith Library alone! You want fantasy? For kids and YAs there are these modern classics:

Cooper, Susan. The Dark is Rising series. [YA COO]

Jones, Dianna Wynne. Howl's Moving Castle. [YA JON]

Lewis, C.S. The Chronicles of Narnia series. [J LEW, also F LEW]

L'Engle, Madeline. A Wrinkle in Time. [YA LEN]

There are these more recent titles, too:

Barron, T.A. The Lost Years of Merlin series. [SF BAR]

Jacques, Brian. Redwall series. [J JAC]

Rodda, Emily. Rowan of Rin series. [J ROD]

If you need more suggestions, all you have to do is a Google search on "after Harry Potter." You'll find lots of lists such as this one provided by the Young Adult Library Services Association. Or, you could ask a librarian!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A Different Way of Looking at Food


I was browsing the shelves the other day and came across this title: Offbeat Food: Adventures in a Omnivorous World by Alan Ridenour [641.3 RID]. I love this book!

It starts at the beginning (biblically speaking), with a little information about the Garden of Eden and the apple. "You don't have to open a Bible to know that the fruit Eve gave Adam was an apple. In fact, opening the Bible won't help you with this at all, since nowhere in the book of Genesis is this particular fruit mentioned." The author suggests that the fig may have been the fruit in question. (Well, maybe, but does that mean we have to rename a man's Adam's apple an Adam's fig?) The first chapter, "Divine Eats," also explains what is meant by the term kosher, the significance of the Easter egg, and other religious holiday food customs.

The second chapter, "Omnivorous Adventures," is too gruesome to even mention!

The other chapters include: "Americana," which covers uniquely American foods such as SPAM (see this previous post), M & Ms, and Twinkies; "Too Good to Eat"--a look at basically inedible culinary treats (think back to those lovely to look at, but disgusting to eat, marzipan doodads you see around the holidays); "Chewing on Metaphors," which is of particular interest to a person who loves words; and "Food, Sex, Death...And Then?"--another chapter that I won't delve into here in case any of my readers have a delicate stomach!

Another fun book about food is Robert L. Wolke's What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained (with recipes) [641.5 WOL]. This book takes questions about food and cooking and then answers them. For instance, "Here in the South, the starch on our plates is often hominy grits instead of potatoes or rice. But I understand that they're made with lye. Isn't lye a very corrosive chemical used in drain cleaners?" Whoa...for sure I'll never be tempted to try grits after a question like that! But, Wolke does explain that the lye is thoroughly washed off, and he even directs the reader to a website, www.grits.com. (If you like What Einstein Told His Cook, I can also recommend, What Einstein Told His Barber: More Scientific Answers to Everyday Questions [500 WOL].)

There are numerous ways of looking at food differently, there is the "food festival" for instance, where a particular item is celebrated and overindulged in! The Nesmith Library is planning a Popcorn Festival for later this month, keep checking back for more information.

Have fun with your food, but remember, there are those who don't have enough to eat, so visit the Hunger Site today!