Books, Cooking

Christmas Books

For Christmas this year, I got a little gift certificate from work, to spend at Amazon. What did I want? Well, books! I wrote about this a week or so ago, how my initial foray into selecting a few fun reads was stymied by the state of anthropology these days. I weep for it… but I dug into the used book stacks and wound up finding a few that fit within my budget and seemed to be useful for my purposes. So, what is that purpose? 

Yes, I am planning a cookbook. Yes, I said that last year. Last year was… not kind to plans. This year? I have a stable job, a home, my child is on track with school and not fighting me every step of the way. My husband is present and supportive. I think, perhaps, I can make this happen. At any rate, I can start working on the project. Besides which, this is the sort of thing I find fun and intellectually stimulating and I am very much looking forward to it. Research! 

These are the four books I ‘unwrapped’ on Christmas morning. Harris’s Good to Eat seems to be a classic in the food anthropology world. Revels’s Culture & Cuisine looks to be another foundational work. Wolke’s What Einstein Told His Cook is a popular science book, and is more about the science in cooking than the anthropology of it. Lastly, I made an error in the Food and Culture Reader. I thought I was getting the 1997 original edition, and instead this is the 2008 version, with rather a lot of socio-political nonsense. I’ll have to wade through it and see if anything in there is worth my time, as it looks like much of the original papers and essays included were removed to make room for ‘issues’ that are activism rather than sound research. I’m disappointed, but I knew when I ordered that the chances of getting in a stinker or two were high. Still! The bibliography may be worth the entry price. 

It certainly was with the ebook I picked up alongside these. I parlayed the Kindle Points system into quite a bit of credit towards ebook purchases, alongside early Christmas shopping that garnered me digital rewards I’ve been saving towards ebook purchases, and picked up two books to go along with the hard copies. First, Delicious: the Evolution of Flavor and How it Made Us Human looks like it will be interesting, but the references in the introduction had me searching Project Gutenberg and securing a copy of Brillat-Savarin’s The Physiology of Taste; Or, Transcendental Gastronomy and late Christmas evening I found myself devling into this with great amusement. It should be a interesting read, indeed! I also bought Culinary Reactions: The Everyday Chemistry of Cooking, if for no other reason that it’s $2 as ebook. Why not? 

The first part of Brillat-Savarin’s rules of Gastronomy.

In essence, then I have a lovely stack of Christmas books to nibble on for some time to come, slowly working my way through and making notes. I anticipate much enjoyment to come! I’ll do full reviews as I finish books, in case any of my readers want to follow me down this research rabbit-hole. 

In the meantime, though, if you are looking for a post-Christmas book to read, you can pick up a copy of Vulcan’s Kittens, with fresh cover and editing, for free this week. If you already own it, and enjoyed reading it, do me a favor? Share it with friends and family who might want to pick up a free book and try my work out?

Vulcan’s Kittens is part of the Stocking Your EReader sale, which will have dozens of books that are free, or $0.99, through the week. Perfect timing for the new year, and spending any Amazon credits you have lying around. Check it out, you might find a new author or two.


3 thoughts on “Christmas Books

  1. An amusing book that might help with your story is “Unmentionable Cuisine” by Calvin W. Schwabe ( ).
    It’s a worldwide list of odd things people eat, with commentary and recipes. If there’s just about anything you’re thinking about eating, this book probably has a description of how to cook it (sections include beef, pork, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and much, much more).

  2. As much as I love books, my primary love is cinema, and I’ve been rebuilding my film library which, due to recent sales, has turned into sort of a Christmas present to myself. A few tidbits from the flood:

    The Thirst, 1979, an OzSploitation film that has the distinction of being the first Australian vampire movie. Having watched it, to me it was more interesting as a very 1970s hybrid of modernized vampire lore with paranoid conspiracy thriller; it owed quite a lot to The Parallax View in particular. Bought blind because the BluRay disc was going out of print, and was only eight bucks.

    Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD, 2014, a documentary on the influential British comic book (that gave the world Judge Dredd, and comic creators like Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Alan Davis, Dave Gibbons, Brian Bolland, and more). I will watch it and enjoy it at some point, but should have steeled myself when I tried the first time. It opens with a stage setting montage that gives us to understand that Great Britain in the 1970s was beset by economic hardship, riots, unrest, and it was all Margaret Thatcher’s fault. I know this is the standard leftist narrative, and all creatives are just assumed to be leftist, but I still about broke my hand when I facepalmed, and yanked the disc out to watch something else that day. Again, a Blu that was going out of print, and priced under ten bucks.

    The Apple, 1980, a disco musical set in the far future year of 1994, in which the forces of the devil have taken control of the planet via a record company, and the forces of good are represented by a boring couple who first appear singing “Love: The Universal Melody”. Arguably the most WTF movie ever made that wasn’t an intentionally surrealist piece, it features an ending that I love to inflict upon people without preparation or warning (the movie itself certainly doesn’t set it up). I have long suspected that the failure of this film, directed by Cannon Films head Menahem Golan and clearly a passion project, explains why Cannon inflicted so much garbage on the American public for the next ten years.

    Runaway Train, 1985, one of the very few Cannon Films releases that’s not only good, it’s a stone cold classic. Two prisoners (Jon Voight and Eric Roberts, both Oscar-nominated for these roles) escape an Alaskan prison, get on a freight train, that then goes out of control. A taut action thriller that’s far better than you would ever believe, until you realize that it began as a screenplay by Akira Kurosawa.

    Legend of the Mountain, 1979, a three-hour ghost story directed by legendary kung fu director King Hu. Haven’t watched it yet, but looking forward to it.

    Touch of Evil, 1959, Orson Welles’s genre-capping film noir, with three different cuts of the film including (most importantly, to my mind) the 1990s “restored” cut which tried to edit the film to conform with Welles’s vision of how the film should be edited, a vision he laid out in a passionate 58 page memo to Universal after they barred him from the studio and he had seen their initial assembly cut of the film.

    I’m leaving out the various Jean Rollin and Jess Franco movies I got, because I never expect anybody to share my interest in their works, along with a bunch of others, since these represent something of the range of what I got. 🙂

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