Saturday, August 11, 2012

Weekend Cooking- The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D


This post is part of Beth Fish Reads' Weekend Cooking.  If you have anything related to food, cookbook reviews, novel or non-fiction book reviews, recipes, movie reviews, etc., head over to Beth Fish Reads and add your post. Or, if you want to read food related posts, head over to read what some interesting people have to say about food.

Since I have writing Weekend Cooking posts, I have become much more aware of food and cooking references in novels. As I read, I think, "oh, that might make a good post." I have been surprised at the number of books I have recently that might fit in this category.

While you might expect a book about a caterer, The Body in the Boudoir, to have some interesting food references, Chris Bojahlian's historical novel The Sandcastle Girls, about the Armenian genocide in 1915 is not one you where you might find one. I learned about Cheese Boureg, a traditional Armenian food, sort of like a pierogi.

The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. by Nicole Bernier is a novel about Kate whose friend Elizabeth died in a plane crash. Elizabeth asked that her journals be given to Kate, with no instructions on what to do with them, which upsets Elizabeth's husband.

Kate is a mom of two young children, and an award-winning pastry chef. She is at a crossroads, not knowing if she should take a great job offer from a well-renowed restauranteur who is opening a new place. In this excerpt she recalls the pleasure of working in a bustling restaurant kitchen:
"She could see herself working there. She could imagine all the aesthetics of a brand-new kitchen: the gleaming surfaces, the stainless-steel ranges and the stretch of metro rack shelving. She could see the spread of ingredients mounded in matching bowls, the crimson of berries in pooled sauces, and her plated finished product, crust peeling in flakes like mica. She could feel the bustle of the kitchen, the brisk efficiency of some of the best professional in the world humming along and occasionally losing control. And when there was yelling and running and burning, she'd be settled in her space making beautiful things. Even the unpredictability was predictable. She missed that control in the eye of the storm." 
My husband and I owned and operated a fast food restaurant for a few years, and I could relate to the bustle of the kitchen that she described.

I will post my review of The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. soon.

Do you notice food related passages in novels more now than you used to? Let me know in comments.

17 comments:

  1. Yes, I am noticing food more and more in books. In fact, I just read Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl, and one of the things that stuck out was the focus on the food. Which I guess makes sense, since you probably think a lot about food when you don't have enough :(

    BTW, I was so excited when I same to your blog and saw your photo of The Strand. I love that place!

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    1. I love The Strand too. Whenever someone comes to visit us, I always take them to The Strand.

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  2. Oh fabulous quote! I didn't know you used to own a fast-food place -- that must have been quite the experience. I have dreamed of owing a restaurant since I was about 19, but the realities of the stress and total commitment have always stopped me just in time. :)

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    1. Owning a restaurant is like having a child; it's a 24-7 commitment.

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  3. Definitely, I notice food references in novels all the time :) Descriptions of food and kitchens are a bonus to any book! I guess a fast food joint must be quite hectic to run :s

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    1. It was hectic; now that I'm older, I'm not sure I could do it.

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  4. I notice the food in novels these day much more, and I tend to be drawn to titles associated with food like The Baker's Daughter, which I have yet to start and The Kitchen Daughter, which I loved. Fast food, bustle yes and I'm sure a lot of stress!

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    1. I have The Baker's Daughter on my list too!

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  5. Good to catch up with you again. Have a great week.

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    1. Thanks Carol, hope you have a good week too.

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  6. I also notice the food passages in books, and really like the excerpt you shared today. I hope you post about some of your experiences running the fast food restaurant sometime. I'm curious about some of the things an average person probably wouldn't know -- or even dream of about the food service business. :)

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    1. Maybe I will work on a post about running a fast food restaurant. Thanks for the suggestion.

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  7. I do feel as if I'm more tuned in to passages about food, yes - but I don't stop and think about them aside from acknowledging them as 'food.' I am more aware that I look out for cookbooks in bookstores, though - that's new for me!

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  8. I didn't realize that you used to own a restaurant! I bet that was quite the experience. I've been seeing this book around but had no idea what it was about. Sounds like a good one!

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  9. I have this book on my wish list. Great quote! I will hopefully get to it eventually. :)

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  10. Promises to be an interesting read.

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  11. I've been thinking about food passages in books lately too. I was just asked to review a soon-to-be-released dystopian YA novel for a book blog tour and my topic is "food people eat after the end of the world."
    Well. So I read the book and I can say with some authority the pickings will be slim...

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