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THE CORE OF AN ONION

PEELING THE RAREST COMMON FOOD―FEATURING MORE THAN 100 HISTORICAL RECIPES

A delightful journey that unravels the story of a key piece of nearly every national cuisine.

A sweet, earthy aroma permeates this book, as Kurlansky delves into our enduring love affair with onions.

Julia Child once said that it was difficult to imagine a civilization without onions. This is borne out by the historical record, compiled in this engaging, colorful book. Kurlansky, acclaimed author of Cod, Salt, Salmon, Milk!, and other food-related books, has a wonderful time with his subject, noting that onions have long been eaten in nearly every corner of the globe. They were even mentioned in the Code of Hammurabi. Onions have been sought for their combination of sweetness (from dextrose) and pungency (from sulfur, which is also the cause of the teary experience when peeling), and can provide a depth of taste when added to nearly any dish. Kurlansky even coins the word cepaphile, meaning a person who loves onions. They are easy to grow and travel well. This means that varieties have spread and intermixed across the world with waves of immigrants. The Pilgrim Fathers brought onions to the Americas with them on the Mayflower, although they found that several types grew wild. George Washington had a passion for onions, and Thomas Jefferson cultivated them. Kurlansky examines the myriad ways in which they have been used in cooking, offering 100 recipes drawn from a library of cookbooks and including soup, sauces, omelettes, bread, and puddings. He does not, however, recommend the onion-and-peanut-butter sandwich favored by Ernest Hemingway. Americans have always loved onions, consuming more per capita—more than 20 pounds annually—than any other country in the world. In total, the world grows 93.17 metric tons of onions per year, and China and India are the leading producers. The onion might be humble, but it is ubiquitous—and will surely remain so.

A delightful journey that unravels the story of a key piece of nearly every national cuisine.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781635575934

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2023

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A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

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The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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CALYPSO

Sedaris at his darkest—and his best.

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In which the veteran humorist enters middle age with fine snark but some trepidation as well.

Mortality is weighing on Sedaris (Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002, 2017, etc.), much of it his own, professional narcissist that he is. Watching an elderly man have a bowel accident on a plane, he dreaded the day when he would be the target of teenagers’ jokes “as they raise their phones to take my picture from behind.” A skin tumor troubled him, but so did the doctor who told him he couldn’t keep it once it was removed. “But it’s my tumor,” he insisted. “I made it.” (Eventually, he found a semitrained doctor to remove and give him the lipoma, which he proceeded to feed to a turtle.) The deaths of others are much on the author’s mind as well: He contemplates the suicide of his sister Tiffany, his alcoholic mother’s death, and his cantankerous father’s erratic behavior. His contemplation of his mother’s drinking—and his family’s denial of it—makes for some of the most poignant writing in the book: The sound of her putting ice in a rocks glass increasingly sounded “like a trigger being cocked.” Despite the gloom, however, frivolity still abides in the Sedaris clan. His summer home on the Carolina coast, which he dubbed the Sea Section, overspills with irreverent bantering between him and his siblings as his long-suffering partner, Hugh, looks on. Sedaris hasn’t lost his capacity for bemused observations of the people he encounters. For example, cashiers who say “have a blessed day” make him feel “like you’ve been sprayed against your will with God cologne.” But bad news has sharpened the author’s humor, and this book is defined by a persistent, engaging bafflement over how seriously or unseriously to take life when it’s increasingly filled with Trump and funerals.

Sedaris at his darkest—and his best.

Pub Date: May 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-39238-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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