A joyous feast of food, travel, and human relationships.


The longtime New Yorker European correspondent gathers a selection of her finest food-and-travel essays.

Kramer (Lone Patriot: The Short Career of an American Militiaman, 2002, etc.) shares 13 pieces that she published in the New Yorker between 2002 and 2017. She divides the book into four sections that emphasize theme over chronology. Part I introduces readers to Kramer’s Upper West Side kitchen, a space where food, writing, and memory are inseparable. She remarks how certain topics—for example, French politics—will inspire her to make certain dishes, such as chicken tagine, which she associates with “the French-speaking sheikh whose wives taught me how to make it.” In Part II, Kramer offers in-depth profiles of respected food writers and chefs from around the world. In one essay, she tells the story of how a mutual interest in Asian cuisine and traveling brought Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid into an elite circle of food scholars; in another, the author narrates how Yotam Ottolenghi, a brilliant philosophy student, followed his passion for cooking from his native Jerusalem to London, where he opened a wildly successful fusion restaurant. The author’s own adventurous spirit takes center stage in Part III, where she reflects on such subjects as her never-ending personal improvement “quest” to collect cookbooks; her quirky interest in root vegetables and forks; and on how an experiment in foraging eventually led her to Denmark and René Redzepi, the forager-chef/visionary behind the world-famous Noma restaurant. In Part IV, Kramer explores the relationship between food and various forms of ritual. She discusses Thanksgiving and her experiments observing this most revered of American traditions during one summer in Italy. As she notes in the concluding essay, celebrations—especially those that include food—mark a “passage from the ordinariness of daily life into the next round of daily life by way of a salubrious diversion.” Eloquent and charmingly loquacious, Kramer's essays are sharp and insightful.

A joyous feast of food, travel, and human relationships.

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-07437-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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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

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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