LiterEature 101: The Scorpions of Zahir

coverThis particular book has been on my agenda for months. I’ve read tons of books in the past few months, but I desired to craft this one into something tasty simply because it takes place in Morocco. Hence a chance to delve into Moroccan flavors! Something new for everyone. And yet, upon completing The Scorpions of Zahir by Christine Brodien-Jones, I had a deflated sense of excitement. I couldn’t quite pin it down; certainly there was mention of the aromatic marketplaces, and phyllo-wrapped chicken with almonds and spicy roasted plums. But, the title should indicate there were some unpleasantries as well. Like a plethora of scorpions. And an abandoned soul in the desert feasting on fried purple locusts. *sigh* Nevertheless,I fought against the insects to bring you this new post. Please enjoy. With a side of spotted lizard if you desire (I assure you, I do not). (FYI scroll to the bottom if you just want the recipes) Continue reading

LiterEature 101: Beka Cooper Series (Terrier, Bloodhound, Mastiff)

Cover credit: Random House (US)

Well, this is a slight departure. An entire series? A full trilogy? Would that not make my post even more verbose, bordering on the edge of interminable? On another day, another life, another fork of time’s limitless pathways, yes there could be a danger of reviewing an entire series, but not so today! The reason is a bit pathetic really: I read all three books about two to three months ago, while still residing a lifetime away in Maryland. My memory of them individually lacks monumental detail.  So then why bother? Why keep these books hanging on tenterhooks instead of moving on to more recently consumed literatura? If you must know (and naturally you must, else this blog would be quite meaningless to you as a reader), I just loved the food descriptions. I also thoroughly enjoyed the novels, but I marveled at Tamora Pierce’s use of food in these books. So read on, folks, read on. Continue reading

LiterEature 101: The Handmaid’s Tale

strawberries too!Speculative fiction. Chances are the common reader won’t have heard of that term, much less know what it means. Generally, it is the umbrella term that includes all fantastic literature, including (as according to the Speculative Literature Foundation) “hard science fiction to epic fantasy to ghost stories to horror to folk and fairy tales to slipstream to magical realism to modern myth-making — and more.” It can also be used for those works that don’t contain the stereotypical characteristics of science fiction, and more so, may feel more like a future not so far off from our own. The recent books I have read have fallen under this genre, and it leaves me with a disturbed notion of what our world is capable of. That is entirely the point; certain novels set out to challenge, examine, and criticize our current social structures, tendencies, and behaviors. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale brilliantly portrays a dystopian world that in some ways is not as far off from our own as I may have thought even a few years ago. Continue reading

LiterEature 101: #4 The Bell Jar

*I apologize in advance for the photos; the lighting was too low for them to come out well, and we were too eager to eat to rectify anything*

Our Fourth Session of LiterEature 101 commences with a brief discussion on The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.

I could have easily done another segment on the second volume of the Young Adult Series I am reading, The Gideon Trilogy (now known as the Time Travelers, the Time Thief, and the Time Quake, respectively) but I would be doing my heart severe injustice to pass on one of the most stellar novels I have read in recent times. There are moments when I discover something so poignant, reflective, and just REAL even in its schizophrenic perspectives, that remind me why my degrees in English and Anthropology are relevant and valuable, even if I haven’t truly monopolized on them yet. The Bell Jar obviously fits that category by exposing with clarity the struggles of femininity vs feminism, identity, and sexuality that every generation experiences at some point (notably during and after college), especially girls. A synopsis does it no justice—the story of a young woman’s steady descent into depression one pivotal summer, her succumbing to attempted suicide and the journey of recovery. You might think “oh dear god!” but if you don’t fall in love with the author by the end of this experience, then we have some problems.

A most fitting Bonus: It includes, without a doubt, one of the finest short sections of “food writing” that I have ever read (other books that come to mind are Tripmaster Monkey and The Book of Salt but neither engage the reader even half the way this does). Her sweet ponderings over avocados (“avocado pears”) is remarkably endearing. Continue reading