Monday, November 12, 2018

Tasting Italy- A Culinary Journey

Tasting Italy- A Culinary Journey by National Geographic & America's Test Kitchen
 Published by National Geographic ISBN 9781426219740
Hardcover, $40, 383 pages

National Geographic and America's Test Kitchen have teamed up for a beautiful coffee table book, Tasting Italy- A Culinary Journey. Combining what they both do best, they take the reader on a journey through Italy, using the food of Italy as the basis.

America's Test Kitchen's Chief Culinary Officer Jack Bishop explains in his introduction how the differing climates of Northern and Southern Italy influenced the way that people in these regions ate. Traditionally pasta is a staple in the south, whereas corn polenta is the staple in the north. Olive oil is used more in the south, butter and cream more in the north.

The book is divided into three main regions- Northern, Central and Southern. The North is bordered by Switzerland, France and Austria and so their food is heavily influenced by those countries. It is surrounded by mountains, and therefore has a cooler climate. Fontina cheese and Nutella are among the most famous products made here.

The book is filled with gorgeous photographs of the region, as well as 100 recipes that the reader can try at home. Savoy Cabbage Soup with Ham, Rye Bread and Fontina and Spaghettini with Shrimp are two recipes from Northern Italy calling to me.

Central Italy, home to Florence, Rome and the Tuscany wine region, is probably what most people think of when they think of Italy. We took a trip to Florence this past summer, so I was most familiar with this section of the book, and I enjoyed reliving some of the best meals we have we have ever had by reading this.

Proscuitto wrapped in melon, figs, bistecca (steak), porchetta (pork) and the luscious Chianti wines can be found here in glorious abundance. The Hunter's Chicken recipe will find a place on my table soon.

Southern Italy has the hottest temperatures in all of Italy. The pace of life is a little slower here and  you'll find tomatoes, eggplants and lots of fish (anchovies, sardines, cuttlefish and octopuses) and not as much meat. The recipe for Eggplant Parmesan looks incredible.

Tasting Italy- A Culinary Journey is a wonderful book to give as a gift to anyone who has traveled to Italy, and with the holidays coming up it's the perfect time. National Geographic covers the fascinating history of the different regions, and America's Test Kitchen perfectly pairs their best authentic Italian recipes with the history. Even armchair travelers will be entranced by this beautiful book.

Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on Tasting Italy's tour.  The rest of the stops can be found here:

Tour Stops

Wednesday, October 31st: Bryanna Plog
Thursday, November 1st: I Wish I Lived in a Library
Sunday, November 4th: Instagram: @lavieestbooks
Tuesday, November 6th: Kahakai Kitchen
Tuesday, November 6th: Wining Wife
Wednesday, November 7th: Getting On Travel
Thursday, November 8th: Staircase Wit
Monday, November 12th: bookchickdi
Tuesday, November 13th: Thoughts From a Highly Caffeinated Mind
Tuesday, November 13th: Traveling Between
Wednesday, November 14th: Man of La Book
Thursday, November 15th: A Chick Who Reads
Friday, November 16th: Broken Teepee

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Family Trust by Kathy Wang

Family Trust by Kathy Wang
Published by William Morrow ISBN 9780062866257
Hardcover, $6.99, 400 pages

Kathy Wang's fantastic novel Family Trust opens with Silicon Valley resident Stanley Huang being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Divorced from his first wife Linda, married to his second, decades-younger wife Mary, father to two grown children, Fred and Kate, suddenly Stanley's life is turned upside down.

Each chapter is narrated by one of the main characters- Linda, Fred, and Kate take the lead, with Stanley and Mary each taking on a smaller role. Linda has been divorced for many years, and has decided to take the advice of her friends and try online dating with Tigerlily, a dating service geared towards Asians.

She connects with Winston online and he seems to be the opposite of Stanley. Winston appears to be an open, caring, outgoing man. Stanley was prone to violent outbursts, sometimes frightening his children.

Linda was the financial wizard in the family, and although Stanley liked to portray himself as worth millions, Linda had her doubts. She kept pushing Fred and Kate to talk to Stanley and get information about his will. Whenever the topic was brought up, Stanley was very vague about details.

Fred worked in finance, but he felt stuck in his role at Lion Capital. When an old college friend dangles a huge opportunity in front of him, Fred finally feels that his luck may be changing.

Kate is married to Denny, and a mom to two young children. She works for X Corp, a huge Silicon Valley company, where she has been for several years and is a valued employee. Denny is trying to get a startup going, with little success (or ambition) so far.

Fred and Kate both could use the money from their father's will to make their lives easier. Linda fears that Stanley will leave most of his money to his new wife, leaving their children out in the cold.

I found Linda's story to be the most intriguing. She is a smart, tough, hardworking, clear-eyed woman. Her interactions with her circle of female friends and her sharp-tongued observations made me laugh.

Mary had one chapter to tell her story and I found it surprising. Up to this point, we only saw her through the eyes of the others, it was a revelation to see her innermost thoughts.

Family Trust is a remarkable novel. Each character's story draws the reader in, and each person''s story could stand on their own in their own novel. The ingenious way that Wang weaves their stories together is a marvel.

It is a novel about a family who came to here to find the American dream. Both Stanley and Linda worked hard to make a good life for their children, pushed them to go to good schools and be successful. It has been compared to The Nest and Crazy Rich Asians, both of which I read and enjoyed, but Family Trust is the best of the three. Wang successfully combines humor and pathos in a deeply rich novel.

Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on Kathy Wang's tour. The rest of her tour stops are here: 

Instagram Features

Tuesday, November 6th: Instagram: @kate.olson.reads
Wednesday, November 7th: Instagram: @tbretc
Thursday, November 8th: Instagram: @diaryofaclosetreader
Sunday, November 11th: Instagram: @booksugar
Monday, November 12th: Instagram: @jackiereadsbooks
Tuesday, November 13th: Instagram: @the_grateful_read

Review Stops

Tuesday, November 6th: BookNAround
Thursday, November 8th: bookchickdi
Friday, November 9th: Man of La Book
Monday, November 12th: Books and Bindings
Tuesday, November 13th: Literary Quicksand
Wednesday, November 14th: Instagram: @writersdream
Thursday, November 15th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Monday, November 19th: Broken Teepee
Tuesday, November 20th: As I turn the pages
Wednesday, November 21st: She Reads With Cats