5.22.2009

Horn Book's food issue

Horn Book Magazine's May/June 2009 issue is chock full of delicious foodie articles related to books and reading.

Fortunately, my favorite article in the issue, "Book and Bar Man" by Jack Gantos is available online. I particularly loved Gantos' description of himself reading at the bar of the Elks Club when he was a child: "Sitting at the bar as a boy is where I learned how to smudge up the pages of a book with the cheeky rouge of food. The bar always had bowls of sweaty peanuts that were both salty and sugared. They were delicious. I ate mounds of them, and they left the tips of my fingers crusted with a glaze of oily, salty sugar - a kind of tacky varnish that was instantly transferred to the upper corners of the pages." He also described a meal in Bangkok for which I am completely ravenous.

Unfortunately, Horn Book is not giving up Arnold Adoff's poem "sol y sombra" to the masses. It might be blasphemous to only share a single stanza of a poem and, yet, I must:

each evening at casa quitape┼ła we would devour plates of gambas al pil pil and chunks
of thick spanish bread dripping oil: the crunching of sardines punctuated our talk of
ernesto and (always) faulkner and richard wright


Swoon. I have no idea what "gambas al pil pil" is. My first inclination was to look it up, but then I realized that the magic of the line lies in my unfamiliarity with the dish. I have no idea what it is but I want to eat it anyway. That is great food writing.

Linda Sue Park wrote "Still Hot: Great Food Moments in Children's Literature". I really loved the way that she separated the article into "Breakfast", "Lunch", and "Dinner" sections. However, I did find her choice in books to be very predictable: Farmer Boy, Bread and Jam for Frances, among others. Park does point out that she could have discussed newer books, but that she decided to write about the books of her childhood, which is understandable. After all, Park makes the point that what we eat and read as a child stays with us, good and bad. I also enjoyed Park's observation that Maurice Sendak understood the connection between food and love when we wrote Where the Wild Things Are: Max wanted to be in a place "where someone loved him best of all", and that place was home where his food was still hot.

Eat, drink, and read - all at the same time.

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