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Guest Blogger: Chris Manganaro
Watching the Pot Boil
Have you ever stopped to think about the food you eat? Whether it is a complicated dish or even something simple like a salad, there is usually more to it than meets the eye. John Thorne is a man who tends to look much deeper into the food he eats than most people.
In Thorne’s book, written with his wife Matt (which is a nickname for Martha), Pot on the Fire: Further Exploits of a Renegade Cook, we are taken through a succession of essays that dive into the depths of meaning that surround food, from the everyday to the lesser known dishes from all over the world. Traveling through his research, his expeditions are like that of an archeologist. Not only does he dissect the ingredients and history of the food, but even the language.
Due to the fact that the book is a collection of essays that have been written over the years, they do not all relate to one another. This means the book has the flow of a collection which is to say, it does not flow that well. While Thorne splits the book up into sections, they do not necessarily make the transition from one essay to another any smoother. One minute we are reading about a Vietnamese sandwich and the next we are onto risotto. This may sound disconcerting, but in actuality it is a bit of a blessing. At times the book can drag due to the technical wording and academic approach and so the spontaneous movement may mean you will find something more entertaining soon enough.
(photo credit: www.vietnamese-sandwich.com)
Overall, the book is a contrast in itself with parts that will definitely either be a hit or miss and no in between. As with the recipes themselves, not everyone’s taste is the same. Thorne seems to enjoy the way everything is broken down, but the reader may not be so taken in by the topic of toast. It may leave them feeling burnt out. There are times; however, where there are wonderful lines of writing even within a large wall of pontificating about pots. These witty lines or observations are what give his writing just enough flavor for a reader to keep tossing Thorne’s words on their tongue. The book also ends on a very personal note which makes Thorne more human and gives us insight into him which makes the whole series of articles have all the more meaning. Sometimes more salt or seasoning is needed, but Thorne does throw the reader a bone once in a while which makes the reading not only more bearable, but also worth it in the end.
(photo credit: www.italiasquisita.net)
Thorne’s essays are not specifically formulated to be used as a cookbook, but his enthusiasm for cooking makes it hard to resist a taste. Placing a list of the recipes at the forefront of the book and giving extreme details to the recipes at hand, it is quite possible to use this as a cookbook. It should not solely be used as one, though, as one should read each essay in order to fully experience the food.
As this is but one of Thorne’s books, it is merely an hors d’oeuvre or sample of his writing. If one enjoys their appetizer, there is more out there to read by him and if not, at least you can say you tried it.
Hope to see you :
*June 2nd,3rd– Great Grapes Festival, Hunt Valley Maryland, for The Basic Art of Italian Cooking book signing and cooking demos
*June 3rd– Italian Heritage Festival, Rose Tree Park, Media, Pa
*June 18th– Davios Northern Italian Steakhouse- Phila., Pa, Celebrity Chefs dinner and book signing.
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For more recipes get your copy of the Gourmand World Award Winning Book The Basic Art of Italian Coking: Holidays & Special Occasions-3rd edition
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