Well-written, mouthwatering, and nostalgic—an excellent addition to the literature of North American cooking.

Before Sliced Bread


This memoir of a Canadian girlhood affectionately combines recollections with recipes.

In her debut book, Kerr—a former chef and restaurant owner—shares nostalgic memories of growing up in and moving around Canada and the special dishes she encountered along the way. After arriving in an ethnically mixed neighborhood in Montreal as a small child in 1938, Kerr learned to love kosher delis, cheese blintzes, and Newfoundland molasses taffy. Meanwhile, she experienced childhood pleasures that will ring familiar to Canadian readers and awaken new interest in the era for Americans, including reading the Eaton’s catalog at Christmastime, wearing Red River coats (“Everyone has a story about this famous coat”), and riding open-air streetcars for sightseeing. As an adult, Kerr wound up in Vancouver, but in her various stops, she experienced an intriguing variety of culinary traditions. Period photos help tell the story, and an epilogue provides background on Canadian history. Kerr’s culinary journey embraces home-style goodies such as poutine à trou and maple syrup pie in Montreal; fried fiddleheads and Acadian bread pudding in New Brunswick; “bakeapple” pie in Newfoundland; Mennonite onion pie in Manitoba; and coquilles St-Jacques à la Corbeille (Kerr’s restaurant) in British Columbia. In between anecdotes and recipes, the author traces the varied influences on Canadian cooking, such as patterns of immigration or expulsion, the importance of seafood in the Maritimes, and foods linked to special holidays. Kerr’s family’s stories and anecdotes are absorbing, but home cuisine is the star of this book. Its evocative prose, excellent photos, and luscious-sounding recipes will stoke readers’ appetites and spark their imaginations. The instructions are written clearly and aimed at readers who are experienced enough to have, for example, a favorite pastry-crust recipe; indeed, all the entries are based on tried-and-true family recipes. Another plus is Kerr’s emphasis on local food customs, which include ingredients such as fiddlehead ferns, Saskatoon berries, or Newfoundland cod and techniques such as boiling dinner in a gauze bag. The recipes may be old-fashioned, but they have timeless appeal.

Well-written, mouthwatering, and nostalgic—an excellent addition to the literature of North American cooking.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4602-6762-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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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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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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