Warm recollections to please fellow Francophiles.



A debut memoir about eight months of French culinary delights.

In 2012, food writer and Chicago Magazine features editor McAninch was sent on assignment to Gascony, a fertile agricultural region bordering the Pyrenees in southwest France, to write a piece about duck. Although he had passed through the area on other visits, this time the “card-carrying Francophile” was smitten. Everything about Gascony entranced him: the amazing food, wines, customs, and people, who “seemed more open-minded than their compatriots,” importing from Spain “an easy warmth and boisterousness.” Forgoing trendiness (no nouvelle cuisine here), cooks created “dishes of immense depth from a limited palette of local ingredients that hadn’t expanded in generations.” Following a plot that has now become familiar, McAninch became obsessed, imagining Gascony as “a kind of Brigadoon,” and conceived the idea of writing about a region that he believed had been overlooked in favor of the more picturesque Provence. Soon, he, his wife, and young daughter were installed in an old water mill in the village of Plaisance, where they would experience all the blessings Gascony could offer from May to December. McAninch tells a charming but predictable tale of abundant meals prepared by fabulous cooks in their own kitchens or modest restaurants. The author enrolled in cooking classes and private lessons, practicing his new skills in his rudimentary kitchen. Meals, he writes, “became the organizing principle of our daily life.” Besides garbure (cabbage and white bean soup), poule au pot (chicken in a pot), duck confit, foie gras, seared duck breasts, and cream-filled tarts—recipes included—wine and beer flowed at every event, morning, noon, and night. “Glasses were filled, emptied, and filled again,” could serve as the book’s refrain. As in most such memoirs, the visiting Americans encounter kindly, sometimes-eccentric, always colorful, and voluble characters, such as the taciturn cheese maker who sometimes, but not always, manages to bring his wheels of cheese to market.

Warm recollections to please fellow Francophiles.

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-230941-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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