A tasty stew of gripping stories and evocative foodie lore.



A woman looks back on a peripatetic life via recollections of memorable dishes in this rollicking memoir and cookbook.

Novelist and food writer Bertelsen recounts her youth growing up in Washington state and Florida and many periods spent abroad while working with the U.S. Peace Corps and accompanying her husband, an official with the U.S. Agency for International Development, to foreign postings. Her travels took her from Milwaukee to Morocco to Machu Picchu and included some tense and even terrifying moments, from a bout of altitude sickness in Bolivia that had her vomiting until a cup of coca tea settled her stomach to a menacing encounter with a band of Sandinista rebels in Honduras and a riot in Port-au-Prince after the overthrow of Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier. These episodes are entwined with reminiscences about iconic meals—each chapter concludes with a recipe—and these culinary experiences resonate with the greater narrative. The warmth of her childhood home is conveyed by recollections of her father’s vegetable beef soup, while the grinding poverty of Burkina Faso is brought to life by her relationship with a sick woman who sold her produce that grew more withered as the dry season progressed. Bertelsen’s novelistic prose features dynamic scenes and vivid detail: “Mr. Tartar Sauce grabbed Lee and kissed her right on her big red lipsticked mouth,” she writes of an assault by a drunken man on a cook in a Florida seafood restaurant where she worked. Her food writing is also rich and sensuous—“the crunchiness of the flautas, paired with the creaminess of the guacamole and the crema, seasoned with a squirt of fresh lime, fired with the hot bite of green salsa”—and sometimes nearly carnal: “I ate like a wolf with a fresh kill, gulping the food on my plate in gasping, almost orgiastic bites, wadding up balls of bread and stuffing them into my mouth.” The end result is a truly mouthwatering read.

A tasty stew of gripping stories and evocative foodie lore.

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1734557923

Page Count: 386

Publisher: Turquoise Moon Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?