Book Review — Catharine Parr Traill’s The Female Emigrant’s Guide: Cooking with a Canadian Classic

Catharine Parr Traill’s The Female Emigrant’s Guide: Cooking with a Canadian Classic Edited by Nathalie Cooke and Fiona Lucas McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017 In our easy 21st century life, we think we’re “roughing it” when the power goes out for a few hours. But the first emigrants to Canada not only didn’t have power, they also didn’t have […]

Read More

A Square Meal by Jane Ziegelman, Andrew Coe

Book Review — A Square Meal

A Square Meal Jane Ziegelman, Andrew Coe Harper Collins, 2016 The United States is known as “the land of plenty” but there were points in history when that was absolutely not the case. During most of the 1930s, unemployment was high, crops failed due to drought, and much of the US population was subjected to […]

Read More

Book Review — How to Taste

How to Taste Becky Selengut Sasquatch Books, 2018 We spend a lot of time learning to taste beverages such as wine, beer, gin, and even coffee, but seldom are non-chefs taught the intricacies of tasting food. Or more specifically, how to cook food to maximize its taste. In How to Taste, food writer, chef and […]

Read More

Cover of The Belly of Paris by Emile Zola

Book Review — The Belly of Paris

The Belly of Paris (Les Rougon-Macquart #3) Emile Zola originally published 1873, reprint with introduction and translation by Mark Kurlansky, Modern Library, 2009 We all have that one book that we feel that we should have read but just never got around to. For me, that book was Emile Zola’s The Belly of Paris or The Fat and the […]

Read More

Book Review — Incorrigible

Incorrigible Velma Demerson The Mercer Reformatory for Females is gone now, torn down in the late 1960s and replaced with Lamport Stadium near the intersection of King West and Dufferin in Toronto. I live nearby and walk past the place a few times every week. Since reading Incorrigible by Velma Demerson, I am haunted by what […]

Read More

Book Review — Shrewed

Shrewed Elizabeth Renzetti Aw dudes, I suck so much at keeping my 2018 reading list up to date, mostly because it’s all food books and cookbooks (not all of them good, either!), but I want to mention this book somewhere that people see it (because while I seldom update here, this blog still gets a […]

Read More

Book Review — Pomegranate Soup

Pomegranate Soup Marsha Mehran Random House, 2006 It’s 1986 and three Iranian sisters find themselves in the small town of Ballinacroagh, County Mayo, Ireland. They arrive suddenly, taking over a long-closed bakery space with plans to rush an opening of a Persian-themed cafe in only five days. They have escaped Iran via Pakistan and London, […]

Read More

Give a Girl a Knife

Give a Girl a Knife Amy Thielen Clarkson Potter, 2017 There’s a point in any professional cook’s life where you have to decide whether to keep cooking professionally — to really push for your own restaurant, your own empire, as it were —or whether to move on to another career, hopefully food-related. The human body […]

Read More

Oyster: A Global History

Oyster: A Global History Carolyn Tillie Reaktion Books, 2017 Consider the oyster. No, I mean really. Having existed for 234 million years and having been consumed by humans in quantity for 164,000 years, they are our oldest food. Oyster shells have been found in excavations of ancient Troy and the first reference to oysters in […]

Read More

Book Review — Sourdough

Sourdough Robin Sloan MCD Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017 It might be too early to call it, being only February and all, but Sourdough is already a contender for my top fiction pick of the year. This work of Magical Realism (a genre that combines fact with magical elements) is subtle enough on the weirdness […]

Read More

Book Review — The Ghost Orchard

The Ghost Orchard Helen Humphreys Harper Collins, 2017 While it first appears to be a simple exploration of lost North American apple varieties, The Ghost Orchard dredges up other kinds of ghosts and other types of loss in a lacy web of colonialism, agriculture, and human relationships. Taken on when her friend Joanne Page was […]

Read More

Book Review — The Cake Therapist

The Cake Therapist Judith Fertig Berkeley, 2015 There are many genres of food fiction that we’ll explore on this site as we go along, but the most prominent are the food-themed mysteries and food-themed romances. Cookbook writer Judith Fertig makes an attempt at combining the two in her first novel The Cake Therapist. After a […]

Read More

Best Non-Fiction of 2017

There was less non-fiction in my 2017 reading list, but so much of it was incredibly inspiring, and I really had trouble coming up with my favourites, although #1 and #2 just blew me away. 1. Les Parisiennes Anne Sebba This is a wholly comprehensive look at Parisienne women during WW2. Edith Piaf, for instance, worked with […]

Read More

Best Fiction of 2017

Last year, I managed to read 111 books. It was actually closer to 120 but there were a few I didn’t include on my big list, either for personal reasons (self-help or psychology books), or because I bailed less than halfway through. But I wanted to take a look back at my favourite titles and […]

Read More

Just Say No to Fashion Mags

This started as a book review of Face Value: The Hidden Ways Beauty Shapes Women’s Lives by Autumn Whitefield-Madrano. And, I admit it – before I write a book review, I usually head over to GoodReads to see what other people thought of it. Not to crib their thoughts but to get a general consensus […]

Read More

Book Review – The Lost Art of Dress

The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish by Linda Przybyszewski If I ran the world, every child, starting at about age 10, would be required to take some kind of “home”-related course. I hesitate to call this home ec, because there are certain connotations to “home economics” of olde tymes, […]

Read More

Book Review – Please Kill Me

Please Kill Me – The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain With apologies to junkies past and present, fuck me, junkies are tiresome. Nevermind that the majority of the most creative talents of the punk generation were hooked on something, and that the junk might have had some bearing on the […]

Read More

Four Books on Goth

In my exploration of Nu Goth and Dark Mori recently, one of the points I kept coming across was that the Goth kids of today just didn’t take the time to learn about the origins of their subculture. And while there is plenty of information online for anyone capable of using the Goggle box, for […]

Read More

Book Review – Fear and Clothing

Fear and Clothing: Unbuckling American Style Cintra Wilson Style is the collision point between our fantasies of who we are, the larger realities we live with and the way we are perceived by others. As much as I appreciate the sincerity and empowerment behind style campaigns like #fuckflattering or “I wear what I want”, I […]

Read More

Book Review – Stir

Stir – My Broken Brain and the Meals that Brought Me Home Jessica Fechtor In February of this year, I got knocked down in the street. A complete accident, it occurred as a woman was stepping out of a shop door and wasn’t watching where she was going. She slammed into my back and sent […]

Read More

Review – Fixing Fashion: Rethinking the Way We Make, Market and Buy Our Clothes by Michael Lavergne

Fixing Fashion: Rethinking the Way We Make, Market and Buy Our Clothes by Michael Lavergne There are plenty of books on the market bemoaning the sad state of the mainstream fashion industry from working conditions to the life-cycle of the average fast fashion garment. And while they are all well-written, carefully researched, and offer inspiration to […]

Read More

Arthur Elgort’s The Big Picture

The photographs are, of course, iconic. As in, I remember exactly where I was when I opened that September 1991 issue of Vogue to flip to the page of Linda Evangelista kicking that bagpiper (plaids are hot for fall, ladies!). But Arthur Elgort’s The Big Picture (Amazon, Powell’s) is about more than pretty fashion models. Oh, […]

Read More

Awesome Thing – Artsy Sunday – Malkovich, A Clockwork Orange, Chalk Art

Some awesome art I’ve come across online this week… Yes, that is actor John Malkovich, recreating the photo of Alfred Hitchcock by Albert Watson. Photographer Sandro Miller teamed up with Malkovich for an exhibit entitled Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich, Homage to Photographic Masters in which the actor poses for recreations of 35 iconic images from American […]

Read More

Book Review – Overwhelmed

Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time Brigid Schulte Harper Collins 2014, 353 pages Busy? Aren’t we all, right? Or maybe… we just think we are. Time management is a skill that very few people are taught as kids, so as adults, we take on more and more responsibilities and succumb […]

Read More

Lucky Dip – January 2, 2014

Yes, I’m trying this again. Shut up and enjoy the links. I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t get this for Christmas, but I’m sure it was just an oversight. Hubby’s probably just saving up for it. Or trying to figure out where, at 4ft across, we’d put it. This one-of-a-kind piece by Mason Creations […]

Read More

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Remember those essays? The first day back to school, the teacher was still setting up the year’s curriculum, ordering books, etc., and so you’d get handed a piece of loose leaf and a fresh new pencil and directed to start off the school year with the child’s worst enemy – the familiar essay. We lived […]

Read More

In Praise of Snarky Men

I’ve been reading a lot lately. This is about 50% procrastination (writers will do anything to get out of writing, especially without a firm deadline in place), 20% sheer joy at having time to actually sit down and read a book (during my TasteTO days, it was a rare occurrence if I finished a book […]

Read More

The Processed Way of Eating

Despite my plan to avoid social media while working on my book, I’ve spent the earlier part of this afternoon over on FaceBook discussing meat glue (why yes, I am procrastinating, how did you guess?), and its implications in the greater food service industry, aside from its use in molecular gastronomy. Because it seems that […]

Read More

Won’t You Take Me To Hungry Town

Tom Fitzmorris’s Hungry Town: A Culinary History of New Orleans, the City Where Food Is Almost Everything Tom Fitzmorris Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2010, 224 pages Anybody who has ever strolled the streets of New Orleans, lazy with the humidity and history, overcome by the wafting smells of magnolias interspersed with a blast of jambalaya, […]

Read More

Book Review Week

Writers sometimes joke that being a writer is like doing homework all the time. The essays and book reviews we are relieved to be rid of when we leave school are a constant in our daily work lives. If someone had told me 30 years ago that I’d willingly write “book reports” for a living […]

Read More

When is a Badass Not a Badass?

Medium Raw Anthony Bourdain Harper Collins, 281 pages, 2010, $28.99CA I was surprised, upon reading Medium Raw, to see that the sharp-clawed Anthony Bourdain had become a bit of a pussycat. And a timid one at that. Bourdain has made a whole career out of being a tell-it-like-it-is, in-your-face kind of guy. He shit-talked people […]

Read More

Not So Bright

There must be thousand of titles on bookstore shelves that deal with positive thinking. Achieve your goals, get your perfect mate, advance your career… all by simply being positive. Did you ever stop to wonder how many people that system actually works for? Author Barbara Ehrenreich did, and wrote a book about it called Bright-Sided: […]

Read More

Trauma Farm

Trauma Farm Brian Brett Greystone Books, 320 pages, $21.95 I almost didn’t give Trauma Farm a chance. Salt Springs Island farmer Brian Brett is also a poet (it’s his main source of income, in fact, and he jokes throughout the book that it supports his farming habit), and the first couple of chapters came off […]

Read More