Books & Reviews 📚, Trinidad & Tobago 💙

Books #122-#124: Patterson, history and something cozy

Trying to read around the World Cup is proving to be doable. Also, I’ve acquired tons of new books and I am itching to read them, but I must finish at least another third of my TBR. I know I said that I was going to get around to doing some tags, but it’s highly unlikely at the moment. When the tournament winds down a little, I’ll get to them. 

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But I’m immune to coffee so let’s do some reviews. 😄

Book #122: The Murder House by James Patterson

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I am skeptical of characters called Noah. This one got a pass for his Matthew McConaughey hair. Wait, does Mc C even have nice hair? However, there was no need for the crucifixion reference on page 158 so I took away a coffee for that.

This book was peppered with too many F-bombs and Detective Jenna Murphy got her Irish up too many times.  I don’t think the book was particularly great. David Ellis could’ve done better and JP could’ve looked at the work before slapping his name on the cover. 1/5.

Book #123: Historic Landmarks of Port of Spain by Michael Anthony

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Although Spanish, POS has more of a French touch.

Imagine a Port of Spain in which trams ran and where horses were ridden into town. This is the POS that I wished I had known! Trinidad became an independent nation in 1962 and over the years, they’ve grown into their independence. 

This book covers the Great Fire of POS, however, POS was gutted by lots of fire over the years. It covers famous landmarks such as Woodford Square, the beautiful Magnificent Seven buildings, Globe Cinema and the Treasury Building. My utmost favorite part of POS is the Maraval area given that it’s rich in French history.

The book is divided into 10 parts so it is easy to navigate and the pictures are beautiful! 

A FEW HISTORICAL NOTES:

^ The 31-metre (103-foot) Colonial Life building on lower St Vincent Street was our first ‘skyscraper’. It was opened in 1954.

^ Fort Picton was built in 1803 on the Laventille Hill, but it was never used to defend POS.

^ The Church of the Holy Rosary is POS’s most outstanding example of late Victorian Gothic architecture. 

^ The Lapeyrouse Cemetery is on part of an old sugar estate established by Picot de Lapeyrouse after arriving from Grenada to Trinidad.

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#Yay4History

The book was a 6/5 for me. 

Book #124: Meet Your Baker by Ellie Alexander

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Okay, first, I want to look at this bit in the plot summary:

The silver lining? Jules’s high school sweetheart, Thomas, is the investigator on the case. His flirtations are as delicious as ever, and Jules can’t help but want to have her cake and eat it too. But will she have her just desserts? Murder might be bad for business, but love is the sweetest treat of all…

This was one big lie. Although one can tell that he is indeed smitten with his ex, Thomas did not flirt deliciously with Juliet and Juliet did not want to have any type of cake and eat it too because she was married to Carlos. These two characters have no sort of chemistry. Thomas is her ex-high school sweetheart and she is married. It doesn’t matter if she left her job on the ship because she had some problems with her Catalan husband, but she is married and she does nothing to state otherwise. She does not have any fantasy thoughts about Thomas and he doesn’t try to kiss her or touch her at any point during my speed reading.

That out of the way, this story is a tribute to Shakespeare *rolls eyes* and I think authors need to stop riding on the backs of old authors for attention. I am no fan of Shakespeare, but I read it anyway. To write a cozy mystery, you’ll need a small town (fictional if possible) where everyone knows your name.

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The town is Ashland, Oregan and everyone knows Juliet Capshaw’s name. 

The story starts off slow and eventually builds, but then it was back to slow again bordering on boring because most of the book was spent cooking. You know? Adding an ingredient to this, mixing things, pouring things, baking things! And when Jules isn’t baking, she is accusing EVERYONE of murder when she could’ve asked me for when I read the very first chapter I knew exactly who the murderer was no matter how hard the author tried to throw me off the train. So let us recap shall we?:

* Everyone in this story moonlights as a theatre actor even Thomas!

* Too much talking and showing how to bake or cook fancy dishes; less mystery.

* This line: The man in black had to be a man. (Page 170) I don’t like it. ‘Person’ would’ve been a better fit. I laughed out loud because like I said, Ellie tried her hardest to throw me off the train. 

* This fool (Juliet) never locks the door to the bakeshop.

* The “Romeo & Juliet” reference. Know what? One day, I’m going to sit down and read some of this man call Shakespeare’s work and see what the hype was all about. Solomon was a better writer, of this, I am certain.

* It was annoying whenever Jules asked her mom about Torte (the name of the bakeshop) financially, someone/thing cut in avoiding the reply. This went on for about a million or so chapters. Also, Jules teased about why she left her husband Carlos for the entire book. Of course, it’s only natural for the reader to think that cheating was involved when she talked about letters she found and declined to elaborate further until the dying chapters. It turns out that Carlos had a son who was writing to him and he didn’t tell her and when she found the letters, she left him. I could understand why she left, but I thought it was selfish. As his wife, she should’ve stayed and listened to what his reason was behind in not telling her about his son. 

2/5. I am beginning to think that maybe Cozy Mystery is not for me. 

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Books & Reviews 📚

Book #116: Champagne: A Global History

From the smash of a bottle on the side of a new ship to the pop of the cork at a New Year’s Eve party champagne signals celebration, fun, and camaraderie all over the world. Bubbly, as we affectionately call it, is a symbol of luxury and decadence and the go-to drink whenever there is an important toast. This history from Becky Sue Epstein is a celebration of the world’s most celebratory drink.

Here, Epstein chronicles champagne’s story, from the world’s first sparkling wine, produced in Limoux, Languedoc, in 1531 by monks at an abbey in Saint-Hilaire to the celebrities who made champagnes famous and continue to do so today— from Dom Perignon to the widow Veuve Cliquot. Most important, Epstein fully explains the distinction between champagne and sparkling wine. In this informative chronicle, she answers whether French champagne is really better than other sparkling wines and elucidates the science behind that characteristic fizz and bubble. She takes the reader on a tour of vineyards in wine regions around the world and teaches the correct techniques for storing and serving champagne and sparkling wines.

Whether you prefer magnums of Cristal or the affordable thrill of Cold Duck, Champagne is an invaluable complement to any bubbly glass and an informative, elegant gift for connoisseurs, beginners, and wine lovers of all kinds.

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The tradition of celebrating with champagne began with French royalty.

This book briefs us on the history of champagne. Champagne is given to the name of the sparkling wines produced in the region of Champagne, France (100 miles east of Paris). Outsiders are not allowed to use ‘sparkling wine’ on their product. 

The monk Dom Pérignon is often associated with inventing champagne.

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Dom Pérignon

I enjoyed reading about some of the French champagne pioneers and how champagne came to be. This book is perfect for students studying Food and Beverage and it’s also perfect for the history lover.

We should toast this book. Here’s to you, Epstein!

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COVER

4/5

OPENING

In the month of June, right in the middle of the recent recession, the world’s longest champagne bar opened in London: 95.8 metres of confidence that travellers on the high-speed Eurostar train between London and Paris will continue to toast departures and arrivals in a celebratory manner – with a glass of champagne. Champagne bars like New York City’s Flute and The Bubble Lounge are opening branches in San Francisco, London and Paris, while British department store Harvey Nichols recently launched a Belle Époque champagne bar at its flagship Knightsbridge store in London.

VERDICT:

love coffeelove coffeelove coffee

Challenges/Tags/Fun Stuff

Day 29: List 10 people, living or dead, you would invite to dinner. Include the dinner menu.

This is a wonderful and creative question and I like it very much! But it’s also hard because I can’t invite everyone to dinner. 😟I’ll love to have dinner with my characters, but I think I’ll go with some of my all-time favorite people from history. This might get lengthy for most of them are French, all of them are dead, and all of them are men for I am not easily fascinated by women. Jesus Christ is not a fascination; He is my heart. Here we go:

King Louis XIV – This man revolutionized France, fashion, art, and etiquette. I’ve read about people fainting in his court whenever he entertained. Michael Jackson who? This Louis lasted for 72 years, longer than that of any other known European sovereign, and he happens to be my favorite French monarch… for some reason!

King Solomon – The wisest fool who ever lived. Beautifully flawed (who isn’t, though?), but I love the way he wrote and thought him to be a great writer. Shakespeare who? He spoke 3000 proverbs and wrote 1,005 songs (1 King 4:32) and if he wrote like that, just imagine the poems he wrote for the ladies. 😉

Napoléon Bonaparte – He was shrewd and skillful and he conquered much of Europe during his time. He wrote Josephine passionate love letters while away on military duties – although the power couple broke up after 8 years – and his said last words were: “France, the Army, the Head of the Army, Josephine.” Here’s a nice fun fact: Bonaparte is the 2nd most significant figure in history behind Jesus Christ who is #1 of course! There is no one BIGGER than our King!

Marquis de Lafayette – This Frenchman is the hero of the American Revolution. He was without combat experience and only 19-years-old when he arrived in America. He penned one of history’s most important documents about human and civil rights with the help of Jefferson: the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen.

Alexandre Dumas – Well, I don’t think I have to talk about this man now! I’ve been talking about him since the year kicked off! 😄

Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten – This Pharoah is known as the Heretic King because he tried to shift Egypt’s traditional religion to sun worship elevating god Aten above mere gods. However, I like to joke that he invented Photoshop and I’ll talk about that in another post someday because I’ve talked too much already. 

Tutankhaten/Tutankhamun – Of course I can’t leave out Akhenaten’s son now! As a child, I was fascinated by King Tut and spent time reading/researching about him. He tried to undo his father’s damage, but sadly, he had a short reign. 

Simon Peter – This fisherman was one of the first followers of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He had several failings, but in the end, he was still chosen to carry out God’s work. He was a natural born leader and outspoken. I love Peter and I’ll devote an entire post to him in the near future.

Alexander the Great – It’s not a dinner without the greatest conqueror who ever lived! He was King of the Four Quarters of the World! He was tutored by the great Aristotle and his influence on Greek and Asian culture inspired the Hellenistic period.

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce – He invented photography so Frenchie can take photos of our exciting dinner!

Now, for the menu:

I had fun creating that menu! 😄

Although this was a lengthy post, I enjoyed writing it because I simply love history and I can talk about fascinating people all day. 

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Books & Reviews 📚

Day 10: A book that reminds you of home

Any book by Michael Anthony!

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He is a local author (Trinidadian). His books take me back in time to when my country was under the rule of English, the Spanish, with the French leaving the most notable influence on Trinidad. He takes me back to my mother’s time when the country actually had a tram. I learned the meanings behind the names of our towns and villages. I am currently reading some of these historical books right now and learning even more where it concerns the first World War.

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Books & Reviews 📚

50 Foods #1: Woolly Mammoth

Image: pbs.org

Origin: Northern Europe and Siberia
Date: From about 40,000 BP until the end of the Ice Age
Type: large extinct animal

The Ice Age never sits well with me, for I don’t believe that for one second the world was once populated with cavemen (or dinosaurs for that matter). The so-call woolly mammoth was said to be driven to extinct by climate changes and human impacts. The world is old, but I don’t think its 2.5 million years old and the Bible certainly didn’t mention anything about woolly mammoths as meat. Don’t tell me what to believe in. Just like many people don’t believe in the source of a Greater and Higher Power above, I don’t believe in Ice Age and evolution.

Nevertheless, woolly mammoths were said to be pit roasted during the Pleistocene period which humans and mammoths shared for 20,000 years.

Maybe it took an entire village to kill one of those things… or maybe not.

Image: Daily Mail

Either way, I still cannot fathom that woolly mammoths ever walked the face of this earth.

Would I eat it?: NO! I would’ve found other means of survival. 

However, I did enjoy that Ice Age cartoon CRO when I was a child.

Books & Reviews 📚

Book #88: Fifty Foods that Changed the Course of History (CHAPTER BY CHAPTER)

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With this book, I want to do something different. I’ve been looking for THAT book to review chapter by chapter and I think I’ve found it. For the next few weeks or so, I’m going to discuss this book chapter by chapter. Each food (50 in total) has a heading of Origin, Date, and Type, so I’ll include that from the book. 

Food plays a major important role in our everyday lives and I can’t wait to start turning the pages of this book. I have a fun book to read, so I’m going to get to it. I may post the first few chapters before the week is out.

I think I’ll have a burger before I start.

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Books & Reviews 📚

Book #26: Escoffier: The King of Chefs

Author: Kenneth James
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (2002)
Pages: 319
Chapters: 18+17 interludes

BLURB:

Auguste Escoffier (1846 -1935) was the first modern celebrity chef.His clientele included royalty as well as leaders of society and fashion. This book traces his career from his humble origins on the French Riviera to Paris, London and New York. Acknowledged already during his lifetime as the greatest chef in the world, with the hotelier César Ritz, he changed the way we eat and the way food is presented. Together they established a tradition of superb cooking. They were also instrumental in making dining in public respectable for women. Escoffier popularized his repertoire in a series of hugely successful cookery books. He shows what made the cuisine at the Savoy and the Carlton so outstanding, as well as drawing a persona: a culinary portrait of a chef of genius. Escoffier: The King of Chefs also presents the dishes, from eggs to lobster, on which Escoffier had both lasting influence and strongly held views.

review

“Although I had not originally intended to enter this profession, since I am in it, I will work in such a fashion that I will rise above the ordinary, and I will do my best to raise again the prestige of the chef de cuisine.”

– A. Escoffier

So said, so done. I’m just going to talk about the book.

Frenchmen rules the kitchen! That being said, I have no business in the kitchen. I am not a foodie fanatic nor am I an adventure eater, but where history is concerned – food included – I indulge. Also, I am a notable Francophile and Auguste Escoffier simply happen to be one of my favorite French heroes. This man was a revolutionary. When I picked this book up, I was not expecting much about the Escoffier family knowing that French people (well, most of them) are a private people. Even the French footballers are very private about their personal life. He didn’t let me down. Escoffier had written little about his family during his time.

“Cooking is a science and an art, and the man that puts all his heart into satisfying his fellow man deserves consideration.”

– A. Escoffier

Escoffier’s father chose this field for him and instead of fighting his father over his future, Escoffier did his best to come out on top. In the first Interlude, the author divulges into coffee history. Coffee was Escoffier’s favorite brew and he said, “Never serve coffee except at the end of a meal.”

Coffee drinkers are a bit like wine lovers: They know what they like and sneer at the others.

Coffee back then was an exquisite expensive brew. Escoffier’s cooking career started off with the forbidden brew that was meant to be drunk on special occasions. Look at how far we’ve come! The French certainly enjoy taking their coffee at breakfast. Escoffier’s love for coffee saw him write an article about it in 1883, stating that the beverage was THE necessary complement to ALL meals. About coffee being introduced in France in 1669, Escoffier said, “The French people, the most alert in the world had no need of it as a remedy, but both the court and the bourgeoisie adopted it as a new gastronomic joy.” The first successful coffee house was opened in Paris by an Italian in 1702, the Café Procope.

Escoffier was a staunch patriot and he loved his country. It had pained him to see his own fellow people insulting Bazine and praising the Prussians after they won the war against France. “What more could they have desired than to see French soldiers being insulted in France by the … French?”

Indeed, the Prussians must have smirked in satisfaction, but that is the French for you. I’ve seen it time after time again in football. The French simply enjoy insulting their own.

As relaxation, Escoffier read books on the history of France (my favorite history topic too!).

The French style of presentation of a meal was derived from the system pioneered by Marie-Antoine Carême (1784-1833). Another Frenchman that I love!

The author didn’t touch on this, but I’m going to anyway. Carême was interested in architecture and he applied it to desserts thus he became known as the Architect of French Cuisine. He was the originator of haute cuisine. He updated the chef’s uniform. This was the man who was considered the first celebrity chef by many. Even Escoffier was inspired by him, but somewhere in French cuisine history, his story got lost and many modern cookery students are quick to identify with Escoffier. Carême was abandoned on the streets by his father who was too poor to keep him. But look at the man he turned out to be!

You can read more here:

Marie-Antoine Careme-the-first-celebrity-chef

I met a lot of interesting people in this book such as the eccentric Jean Zamoyski and Izzet Bey, a Francophile such as myself.

“To know how to eat is to know how to live.” – A. Escoffier

Enter César Ritz.

The pioneer of luxury hotels. Ritz’s story was equally interesting as Escoffier. When he sent for the master chef he was four years younger than the 38-year-old Escoffier. Ritz wanted nothing more than to run his own hotel. Escoffier wanted nothing more than to run his own business, to be independent and work in his own way to exploit his culinary talent. The Escoffier-Ritz partnership couldn’t have come at a better time. They got on like a house on fire and understood each other on a professional level. They complimented each other well. They even shared a mutual distaste of England and its way of life until April 06th, 1890 when they arrived in England to take over the Savoy.

“Even English dishes were quite good if cooked by a French chef,” – M. Gimon (Auguste’s understudy)

The author seemed curious as to what Escoffier’s actual relationship to Sarah Bernhardt, “the most famous actress the world has ever known” was.

Although there are no mentions of Escoffier and Bernhardt having an affair, James couldn’t let it go and mentioned it several times in the book. It was pretty clear that they were intrigued with each other and I mean, look at her! Had I been living in her time, she would have been my muse. Escoffier was a lover of the ladies and he named many dishes after them, but there is no strong evidence pointing to speculated affairs… not saying that he didn’t have one. Escoffier-Ritz brought the Grand National Hotel in Rome to a high standard. It was the first hotel in the world to have a bathroom for every bedroom.

You can more about the hotel history here:

http://www.famoushotels.org/article/732

Escoffier’s book Le Guide Culinaire is still an important book for the kitchen.

Have you ever had the Pêche Melba or Peach Melba? It was one of Escoffier’s creation. Peaches on a bed of vanilla ice cream, covered with raspberry puree and lace of spun sugar, nestled between the wings of a sculptured swan. Today:

“The secret is that most of my best dishes were created for the ladies.” – A. Escoffier

Ritz had overworked himself and became depressed. It was quite sad how he sunk out of life. At one point, he couldn’t even recognize his wife, who took over all his responsibilities. Ritz died a couple of weeks before the Armistice. Escoffier was also concerned for the less fortunate, the aged and the invalids. He was appalled when he saw the wastage of food from grand hotels in London, something which still goes on today not only in hotels but in mere restaurants too. At the Savoy, Escoffier had the nuns come each morning to take away the left-overs for distribution.

Escoffier was also generous and wouldn’t hesitate to reach into his pocket. He appeared to not hold many grudges, a fine example: the chef de cuisine who bullied him at his early days at the Petit Moulin Rouge was now old and lonely. What did Escoffier do? He asked the nuns to take Ulysee Rahaut in. ❤

Escoffier helped save lives when a fire broke out at the Carlton Hotel on August 09th 1911. He had collected people from the upper floors and led them to safety. Again, April 14th, 1912, the Titanic went down leaving 1500 people dead at sea. All but one of the cooks perished, but Escoffier made it his duty to publish photos of each cook with obituaries in Le Carnet d’Epicure. He didn’t sit on problems, he did something about them.

Escoffier passed away six days after his wife Delphine, having lived a fulfilled life.

Sometimes I didn’t feel like I was reading the bio of Auguste Escoffier, just a mere historical account of important parts of his life. The author even took some time to compare his fellow English food writer Elizabeth David to/with Escoffier. Come on, you English should be grateful! David is not in Escoffier’s boat.

Escoffier was a very likable man and his unparalleled career is an example for cookery students to follow and mold themselves after.

Notable Honors

> Awarded the Médaille de la Reconnaissance Française (3rd class, bronze)

> First chef ever to receive France’s highest accolade, the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur

> The first artiste-artisan to receive the Cross of Denmark

> Promoted from Chevalier to Officier de la Légion d’Honneur

VERDICT:

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NEXT UP:

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Macaron Murder by Harper Lin