Top Ten Tuesday Food in Books that I Want to Eat, Right Now!

 Ermagerd, this is my favorite combination of things ever.  Food in books.  Sigh.  It is even better if you can get your hands on what is being described and eat along. I recently read the book Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way through Great Books (mini review here) by Cara Nicoletti which is about doing exactly that.  I wasn't a huge fan of the writing but the idea is freakin' brilliant.  I also bought the Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature's Most Memorable Meals book by Dinah Fried but it was delivered to the States so I have to wait until June to look at it.  Expat problems.

This weeks prompt is Top Ten Yummy Foods Mentioned In Books. Which I am interpreting as a dish rather than a whole meal (totally going to cheat, I know it), a book about food, or just a book with a lot of food in it. #overthinkingthis

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by the Awesome people over at The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by the Awesome people over at The Broke and the Bookish.



Just One Day
by Gayle Forman

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: Just One Day #1
Published: January 8th 2013
Rating: Full review of Just One Day

"Macarons. They’re meringue cookies in pastel colors. They are edible angel’s kisses.”

I will admit it, I kind of love symbolism.  If that symbolism just happens to take the form of pastel and jewel colored baked goods all the better. Macarons come to represent Allyson's discovery of herself during her quest for Willem. Not reading more into this than necessary at all.

Salamandastron (Redwall #5) by Brian Jacques

A Season Feast

Any Redwall Novel Ever
by Brian Jacques

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: Redwall
Published: 1992
Rating: anthropomorphic fun

"Hares are real gluttons. Watch! First he took a good flat apple turnover like this pass me that meadow cream then he spread it thick and stuck a pair of blackberry tarts on it, like this. Next he ladled it with honey, so, then he placed a huge slice of hazelnut and pear flan on top and ate the lot."

Meadow cream, violet syrup, strawberry cordial.  I have no idea what any of these things would taste like but I know that I want them in my life.  The scene at the beginning of Salmadastron is my favorite but that is probably because it is the first one that I read circa grade 6. Brian Jacques spares no detail in food description and I am here for it. I think that there is a cookbook that goes along with his readwall novels but I kind of like the mystery of not really knowing what they taste like.


November Cakes

The Scorpio Races
By Maggies Stiefvater

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: no
Release date: October 18th, 2011
Rating: Full review of The Scorpio Races

"Nothing says orphans like two kids breaking their necks looking at trays of November cakes and platters of shaped cookies and lovely soft loaves of bread still steaming the window they’re next to."

Maybe because the characters spend so much time being hungry that November cakes are so memorable. The honey stickiness is that much more delicious because it is so rare. I also appriciate that Puck spends all her money on Novemeber cakes at least once rather than sensible food.  Priorities,



Six of Crows
by Leigh Bardugo

Goodreads |  Amazon  | Audible
Series:  Six of Crows #1
Release date: September 29th 2015
Rating: Full review of Six of Crows

“Okay, okay. When we’re back in Ketterdam, take me out for waffles.” Now Inej did laugh. She dropped her hands and appeared to speculate. “Dessert for a life? I’m not sure that seems equitable.” “I expect really good waffles.” 

Okay, I am not sure that waffles are ever actually eaten in these books. They are more of an idea of safely, security and normality that the crew is promsiing themselves as a way to get through the events of the book.  I still want one.



Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda  
by Becky Albertalli

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: Would that it were
Published: April 7th 2015
Rating: Full review of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda  

“I have a sneaking suspicion that you’re not 100% committed to your Oreo diet.” 

This is actually pretty amazing considering my history with oreos.  When I was 7 my mother made the tactial error of leaving me alone with a sleave of them,  I, being the mastermind that I was, decided to take two ends and put about 17e middles in between them.  Needless to say, I was sick beyond all reason and didn't eat oreos again until I was 27 and in Mongolia desperate for a taste of home. That I am able to overcome this aversion while reading this book and crave oreos is a testament to the writing.


Pan au Chocolat

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins 

Goodreads | Amazon Audible
Series: (Anna and the French Kiss #1)
Published: December 2nd 2010
Rating: So cute you think it will make you sick and then you love it

"He’s gleeful to know something I don’t. Which is annoying considering we’re both aware that he knows everything about Parisian life, whereas I have the savvy of a chocolate croissant."

Relatable: being able to order one thing because that is the only thing that you know how to say in a new country.

My life next door


My Life Next Door
by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Goodreads Amazon | Audible
Series: My Life Next Door #1
Published: June 14th 2012
Rating: Adorable

"As soon as they get into the kitchen, Nan heads for the fridge to get some of my mother’s lemonade. After all these years, she knows exactly where to locate the special ice cubes with mint and lemon peel. She pours a glass for Tim and he takes it, frowning at the little ice cubes with their flecks of yellow and green frozen inside."

Samantha's mother's lemonade is an example of that old saying that anything worth doing is worth doing well,  I have never made lemonade from scratch with lemonade ice cubes and little bits of mint but I think about doing it every time I think about this book.  


Chocolate Chip Cookies

Always and Forever, Lara Jean
by Jenny Han

Goodreads Amazon | Audible
Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before #3
Published: May 2nd 2017
Rating: Full review of Always and Forever, Lara Jean

"For the past few weeks I’ve been on a quest to perfect my chocolate chip cookie recipe, and Peter and Kitty have been my steadfast passengers on the journey. Kitty prefers a flat, lacy kind of chocolate chip cookie, while Peter likes his chewy. My perfect cookie is a combination of the two. Crunchy but soft. Light brown, not pale in color or flavor. A little height but not puffy. That’s the cookie I’ve been searching for."

There is a plethera of baking in all three of these books but Lara Jean's slightly manic persuit of the perfect chocolate chip cookie makesme both crave cookies and start baking,

I+Believe+in+a+Thing+Called+Love+by+Maurene+Goo cover.jpg

Ramen Noodles

I Believe in a Thing Called Love
by Maurene Goo 

Goodreads Amazon 
Series: No, but I wouldn't mind one
Published: May 30th 2017
Rating: Full review of I Believe in a Thing Called Love

"I laughed, then focused back on the ramen. “So watch carefully, Caucasian lad, this is how you make our superspecial ramen.” I dropped the noodles into the water and then started breaking them apart gently with chopsticks. In the meantime my dad was grabbing a jar of kimchi from the refrigerator. Luca was watching us intently, like he was actually fascinated by this entire procedure."

It is 100% the living in Asia thing but I feel that there is a real lack of appreciation for ramen. It is more than the crappy and cheap food that sustains you through college and everyone should know about it. Maurene Goo is out there writing God's work. Bravo. I am going to order ramen delivery in celebration.

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner cover

Fried Chicken and Cornbread

Goodbye Days
by Jeff Zentner 


Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: no
Published: March 7th 2017
Rating: Ugly crying. But in a good way.

"I love you more than I love God himself. So if he’s got a problem with anything, he can talk to me, because I love you how you are. Now, if that’s all you had to tell me, we’d best go have some of my homemade fried chicken and cornbread"

This one breaks my heart.  The main character, Carver Briggs,  is having a goodbye day with his dead best friend's grandmother and she feeds him his friends favorite meal. This is a book with three very important and vibrant characters are already dead on the first page of the book.  As you are reading and getting to know them their deaths just keep hitting you harder.  I am not okay.

Are you a fan of food in books? Have you ever tried to eat or cook along?



Facebook Cuba.png

America's bizarre relationship with Cuba is a mix of the last gasps of the Cold War and a telenovela and the script written by someone not too concerned about realism. Which gives visiting Cuba as an American the feel of the forbidden fruit.  The lead up to Cuba was particularly stressful because we were in China, but we were going to be traveling to NYC first. That meant that we had to make sure that we had to have all of the American travel documents in place which confused people when my German husband went to the Cuban Consulate in Beijing to discuss it.  Long story short is that the annoying paperwork side of 100% on the American side but despite the fact that it looks impossible it was not as painful as we anticipated.  However, the policy recently changed so if you don't have to travel to Cube through America, don't.  And if you do fly from America make sure that all your paperwork is in order. It is mostly a matter of qualifying rather than having things filled out. It was also before the change to the rules allowing Americans to visit was in place.  Cuba is still open it is just much more difficult to go there.  If you travel there, it is worth considering going through Mexico.


It was also hotter than the surface of the sun and more humid than, I don't know, the bottom of the ocean. My husband and I have traveled quite extensively at this point so while we thought about the temperature we didn't believe that we were going to be that affected by it. We were wrong my friends.  Maybe it is the lack of central air?  There were a couple of days that it was all we could do to walk a hundred meters to the next restaurant to buy a drink a rest for an hour. If, unlike us, you have the opportunity to travel to Cuba when it is not July I highly recommend you make that effort.  

classic car cuba

La Habana: Some Highlights

Malecón: Five miles of seawall and coastal road.  Walking along it is one of the essential Cuban experiences. Be warned that there is no shade whatever.  Bring a hat.  You will thank me later.
Fortress San Carlos de la Cabaña: not much seems to have changes in this fortress since it was built in the 18th century.
Old Havana: A UNESCO World Heritage Site and the heart of Havana. Here color, music, and most of the main sites can be found. 
Old Cars: I thought that this was just one of those stereotypes of Cuba.  Maybe you would see one every once in a while?  Buy, was I wrong!  While driving around it seemed that up to a  fourth of the cars that we saw in Cuba were classic American cars from the sixties and before. It gave the whole city a lost in time feeling. Some of them are just private cars and others can be hired as a taxi or doe tours around the city and surrounding areas.

cuba heart grafitti

The lack of advertising was surprisingly noticeable.  We are inundated with advertising images all day every day, and they become almost this visual white noise.  Even in China where I can understand very little of the advertisements the underlying visuals are still there. There is no advertising in Cuba.  None.  Even signs on buildings were quite small. Sometimes, it made it difficult because it wasn't always apparent that a building was a museum, or a restaurant, or a hotel. I was also taken aback by the propaganda.  Any time that there was a billboard still up it was a picture of Che Guevera or Fidel Castro with a quote. Maybe that is why I noticed it.  If the same kinds of things had been in Myanmar or Bulgaria, I wouldn't have known because I wouldn't have recognized the leaders or known what their politics were. Different cities had various levels of propaganda.  Havana has very little, but it was every few feet in Cien Fuegos. It wasn't malicious propaganda.  I noticed it, but it didn't make me uncomfortable.  Most of it talked about working together for a "forever victory." I guess I am used to more subtlety in my propaganda.

I don't know if it was just because we didn't know where to look but it was almost impossible to find a grocery store.  We saw a couple but they had hardly any stock, and we went away empty handed. We were vaguely on the lookout for one every day and in three different cities.  


Cien Fuegos: 

Bus Ride- Really. It was a six-hour drive, but most of it was through the countryside, mountains, and oceanside roads. Interestingly, the bus was the same Chinese bus that we take to school every day in Beijing just far more run down.
Restaurant- Cuban food in Cuba was something of a letdown.  Not awful but nothing special.  We this paladar (a private family home converted into a restaurant and different than the state-run restaurants) was the best food we ate in Cuba.  If that had not been our last meal in Cien Fuegos, I would have gone back again and again.

bell tower trinidad de cuba

Trinidad de Cuba

Trinidad de Cuba's old town was definitely worth the trouble of getting there. The Old town is another UNESCO World Heritage Site.  You know that you are in the old town when you are on cobblestones.  Walking around you could almost think that you have traveled back in time. We took a bicycle taxi from the bus station arranged by our Airbnb host.  It wasn't worth the feeling of guilt.  Both of us and our luggage uphill on cobblestones in 5000-degree weather.  No one should have to deal with that.

There is still so much in Cuba that we didn't get to see. Anything at all in the eastern part of the Island. Santiago de Cuba for examples has been highly recommended.  We will have to travel back someday.

*We went to Cuba before Hurricane Irma hit.  I haven't been able to find a reliable organization to donate to.  If you know if one please let me know.


Following the News: Books on Birth Control and the Suppression of Women*

Following the News: Books on Birth Control and the Suppression of Women

I am just going to take this moment to side-eye every man in the room.  Long story short it has been decided that employers can decide not include contraception in their ACA health insurance plan. 

Call your MoC or Senator about the Trump Administration's decision to narrow the ACA's focus on contraception coverage:

It's time to Fight- Celeste is amazingly informed and even provides a script in case you are nervous.

Don't know your MoC or Senator?

*I realize that there are some Transmen who are directly effected by this issue as well but I wasn't sure how to phrase it correctly.  (It's me not you. I started overthinking and then blanked out completely. Consider yourself explicitly included) Suggestions welcome.

The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler

The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade
by Ann Fessler

Goodreads | Amazon
Published: May 4th 2006 

“For women born after 1949, the odds were that they would have sex before they reached age twenty.1 Despite the increase in the number of young people having sex in the 1950s and 1960s, access to birth control and sex education lagged far behind. Fearing that sex education would promote or encourage sexual relations, parents and schools thought it best to leave young people uninformed. During this time, effective birth control was difficult to obtain.” 

Beyond Choice: Reproductive Freedom In The 21st Century by Alexander Sanger

Beyond Choice: Reproductive Freedom In The 21st Century
by Alexander Sanger

Goodreads | Amazon
Published: July 6th 2005 

"As they describe it, abortion permits lifestyle choices of which they disapprove. In their view legal abortion, like birth control, makes it easier to have sexual intercourse outside of marriage and contributes to the weakening of the moral fabric of society."

Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in the United States by Rickie Solinger

Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in the United States
by Rickie Solinger

Goodreads | Amazon
Published: September 18th 2002

"In the struggle to win reproductive freedom, many activists didn’t think about the fact that pregnancy and childbearing have historically and dramatically separated women by race and class in this country."

Pregnancy and Power: A Short History of Reproductive Politics in America by Rickie Solinger

Pregnancy and Power: A Short History of Reproductive Politics in America
by Rickie Solinger

Goodreads | Amazon
Published: March 1st 2007

"A profound source of danger has always rested at the heart of definitions of “real womanhood.” These definitions have, as we’ve seen, changed over time and have been applied to different groups of women differently, depending on their race and class. But when women have acted reproductively against laws, policies, religious dicta, and community attitudes, they have violated the citadel of traditional gender roles. Social and legal rules have historically governed who can be a legitimate mother, under what circumstances, and how women can and cannot legally manage their fertility. These rules have always been linked to traditional assumptions about women’s “natural work” as mothers. They have also always been linked to ideas about women’s “naturally” subordinate social role and status."

Choice: True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood, and Abortion by Karen E. Bender

Choice: True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood, and Abortion
by Karen E. Bender

Goodreads | Amazon

"Instead of trying to limit access to contraception or the morning-after pill, why not make it part of every employer’s health care plan? And make it free and available for low-income women? We should make it illegal for a pharmacist to refuse to fill any valid prescription, regardless of personal beliefs. With education and access, we can significantly decrease the numbers of unplanned pregnancies and their corollary—abortion."

How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America: Freedom, Politics, and the War on Sex by Cristina Page

How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America: Freedom, Politics, and the War on Sex
by Cristina Page

Goodreads | Amazon
Published: December 26th 2006

"Through his megaphone Rush was proclaiming loudly what I’d found whispered six years ago; that many people in the anti-contraception movement believe at their core that sex for pleasure is wrong and anyone using contraception, particularly women, should be shamed. It is difficult to escape the view that what they most pine for is a world in which the role of women is simple and straightforward. Women should stay home and raise children. This is a bedrock pro-life ideal."

Our Bodies, Our Crimes: The Policing of Women's Reproduction in America by Jeanne Flavin

Our Bodies, Our Crimes: The Policing of Women's Reproduction in America
by Jeanne Flavin

Goodreads | Amazon
Published: November 1st 2008

"Women who we perceive to have failed to establish themselves as responsible citizens by controlling their reproduction in socially acceptable ways do not have their contributions to society recognized . Instead, their status as citizens is discounted, and their access to societies benefits is extremely restricted."

Contraception: A History by Robert Jütte

Contraception: A History
by Robert Jütte

Goodreads | Amazon
Published: May 1st 2008 

"In most Western societies, if was for a long time, completely taboo to talk about contraception at all."

The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service by Laura Kaplan

The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service
by Laura Kaplan

Goodreads | Amazon
Published: June 9th 1997

“The clergy spoke with the moral force of religion. The American Baptist Convention’s tradition encouraged individual freedoms in theology, church practice and morality. In an article on abortion that he wrote in 1967, Howard Moody stated: “It is a violation of every Protestant ethical stance to support with civil law any matter of personal morality….”

Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi

Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women
by Susan Faludi

Goodreads | Amazon
Published:August 15th 2006 (first published 1991)

“The anti-feminism backlash has been set off not by women's achievement of full equality but by the increased possibility that they might win it. It is a pre-emptive strike that stops women long before they reach the finishing line.”