The navel-gazing about the pluses and minuses of modernization is expendable, but Holliday provides a lively snapshot of an...



A British journalist who lived in Korea in the 1990s chronicles his return in 2015, when he found the culinary landscape transformed, mostly for the better.

It didn’t seem promising when a friend took Holliday (Eating Viet Nam, 2015) to a small restaurant in downtown Seoul and invited him to eat pizza flavored with fruitcake, proclaiming, “this is the future.” While teaching in Korea 20 years earlier, the author fell in love with its down-home, superspicy food; fruitcake pizza was not his idea of a good development. However, he was excited by the new pride Koreans take in their cuisine, no longer embarrassed that it is “too smelly, too spicy.” So Holliday decided to travel around the country sampling its quintessential dishes. He fears—as he notes a few too many times—that traditional Korean food is disappearing like the old hanok bungalows bulldozed to make way for skyscrapers. On the contrary, he discovered, the new cooks take pride in reclaiming old recipes. As the narrative moves out of Seoul into the provinces, the author makes palpable the “glorious stench” and mouth-burning tastes of a highly spiced cuisine, from kimchi to bibimbap, a one-bowl festival of flavors that is a specialty of the city of Jeonju. Like many food books, the parade of one meal after another can become wearying, and Holliday’s lingering descriptions of textures and substances that are bizarre by Western standards (“it was as if a urinal cake were now lodged inside me”) are not for the squeamish. But his cook’s tour also includes interesting observations on Korea’s rapidly changing society: the increasing assertiveness of its once-subservient women counterpoised against the rage for plastic surgery, its “quickly-quickly” culture contrasted with the mysterious concept of han, a state of soul combining “irresolvable pain [and] unrealizable dreams” that Koreans regard as a uniquely national quality.

The navel-gazing about the pluses and minuses of modernization is expendable, but Holliday provides a lively snapshot of an ancient culture in transition.

Pub Date: April 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-240076-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Anthony Bourdain/Ecco

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

Did you like this book?