Thursday, May 10, 2018

Beer, Cows, and Pancakes

Books that combine food and travel are some of my favorites. Here are three that I’ve just finished reading and would highly recommend.

My Beer Year 
Lucy Burningham enjoys drinking beer and, living in Portland, she’s in the right place as there are so many micro-breweries. She decides to expand her knowledge and understanding of beer by spending a year studying to become a Certified Cicerone (beer expert).

My Beer Year: Adventures with Hop Farmers, Craft Brewers, Chefs, Beer Sommeliers, and Fanatical Drinkers as a Beer Master in Training is very readable. You feel like you’re sitting down chatting with the author as she recounts her home brewing experiences, her visits to breweries and hop farms, and travels. My favorite part of the book was the last third which describes in detail her visit to Belgium and Germany where she tries to uncover the essence of Belgian and German beer.

You don’t have to enjoy beer to enjoy this book. But if you do enjoy beer, be sure to have some on hand to drink while you read.

The Milk Lady of Bangalore
I knew that cows were sacred in India, but I didn’t fully realize their importance until I read The Milk Lady of Bangalore by Shoba Narayan. The author was born in India but had spent many years in the United States. She wants her daughters to know their grandparents and experience Indian culture, so the family moves to southern India. They arrive at their new home to find the elevator blocked by a cow heading up to bless the home of a family that had just moved in. That’s just the start.

Through her friendship with the woman who sells milk straight from the cow across the street, she learns that drinking cow urine can ward off diabetes, while cow dung works as a mosquito repellent and can make you smarter and less depressed. If you’re buying a cow, check the whorls in its hair as they depict its personality.

It’s a fascinating book that reminded me of how much we don’t know and how much we stand to gain by being even a fraction as generous as people, who often have very little, can be.

Pancakes in Paris 
Craig Carlson falls in love with Paris as a university exchange student. But there’s one thing missing – an American breakfast complete with hash browns and pancakes. He dreams of opening an American-style diner in Paris – and eventually he does. When you read about his troubles with hiring and firing staff and dealing with health inspectors and the like, you’ll admire his courage in keeping on going in the face of tremendous odds. Pancakes in Paris is well worth reading if you’re interested in food, Paris, or entrepreneurial challenges.

On a related theme, it appears that pancakes are the latest food fetish.

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