GOING WITH THE GRAIN by Susan Seligson


A Wandering Bread Lover Takes a Bite Out of Life
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Perky, contrived account of visits to the great bread-making cultures of the world—recipes included.

Children’s author and journalist Seligson (Amos Camps Out, 1992, etc.) is one of those writers who insist on giving themselves equal billing with their subjects, so there are many jarring asides. In Jordan, ostensibly to learn how Bedouins make their traditional flat bread, she exults that Omar, the hotel manager, likes her. In Ireland, staying at the famous Ballymaloe House, she fears that noted chef Myrtle might not like her (because Seligson is being snippy to some fellow Americans), but not to worry—once back home, she receives a sweet note saying how much Myrtle enjoyed meeting her. The author begins her travels in Fez, Morocco, where she is taken to visit the various bakeries in the teeming market place, observes families bringing their loaves to be baked each day in a communal oven, and learns that there are no female bakers, though women prepare the dough. In Saratoga Springs, New York, she visits with Michael London, who sells for $18 the five-pound pain au levain he bakes in a specially designed imported oven housed in an equally special bake house. She visits the “world’s largest bakery” in Biddeford, Maine, where Wonder Bread is produced and learns how to make soda bread in Ireland, matzo in Brooklyn, roti in India, and biscuits in Alabama. She also meets with scientists who are developing a bread that can survive combat conditions and still deliver a morale-boosting fresh taste to troops hunkered down in foxholes. Her least satisfactory encounter is with bakers in New Mexican pueblos who regard her as a trespasser. She concludes with an obligatory baguette in Paris. As the author describes the preparation and ingredients of the various breads, she adds a smattering of local history and bread lore to round out her personal impressions and experiences.

Energetic and certainly lively, but the jokey personal comments soon wear thin.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-7432-0081-0
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2002


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