“The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake”

For July, the Kitchen Reader book club read “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake“.  

 

Lately I’ve been gravitating towards books about food whether that be day in the life’s,  memoirs or essays on women chefs. Before this, I would almost exclusively read novels. But since getting on this food book kick, I’ve stuck with non-fiction since that seems to be the most common type in the gastronomic genre.  The Kitchen Reader book club selected a novel for its July selection and I was intrigued. I went through a few different levels of interest while reading this book.

I know, never judge a book by its cover but you know what, I do. At least initially. That is what catches your eye and piques your interest. Or, at least it is supposed to. This cover paired with its cloying title immediately made me think it was going to be about some lovesick career woman who can’t find love when its right in front of her and wallows in lemon cake. Eye roll. Who wants to read that? As I sat down to read it, preparing my eyes for rolling, I discovered it wasn’t about this at all. The premise was quite interesting and I became curious. It took a bit to reel me in, but after actual things started to happen I was intrigued. Though I couldn’t help but be disgusted by the protagonist’s necessary diet of factory created food, I was a fan of the idea that she could taste the feelings of the people who created her meals. We all do that a bit right? A rushed plate of spaghetti and carefully prepared ravioli with perfectly crinkled edges will be completely different. I enjoyed this phenomenon being explored in a charmingly mysterious way.

However, I soon became quite frustrated. The story, while unpredictable, went to places that I didn’t feel I could follow. I wanted to keep her “power” and its origins more of a secret and some of the revelations seemed incoherent or quite frankly, kind of dumb. The explanations were hard to follow and Rose became harder and harder to understand. The non-culmination of her romantic feelings was not explained in any sort of satisfactory manner and I was just continually frustrated by the lack of communication and relation between all of the characters. I just couldn’t understand it or get behind it. Once Rose starts to cook for herself things picked up a bit, but again the explanations of her own feelings didn’t make sense to me. I’m not really one for poetry and some reviews I’ve read of this novel mentioned that it was like poetry. Maybe that’s why I liked the initial conceit, but not much else. I do wish I had some cake though…

 

 

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Mediterranean Potato Salad

Med-Potato-salad

 

 

Today, whilst poking about Twitter and the general internets, I noticed that the phrase “potato salad” kept creeping up. Usually when a particular subject is bandied about online all at once, it is fairly easy to find out what the source is and why everyone is giving their 2 cents about it. I mean, you can kind of know why they care, but also, WHY do they care ya know? Who’s to say? So naturally, I had a tense few minutes reading “potato salad” all over the place in case it suddenly became a fad and I couldn’t post this recipe because, like the hipster I am, I can’t conform to mob mentality. Anyway I found out it was because some guy apparently had never made potato salad, so it being 2014, he naturally took to Kickstarter to fund this noble mission and… well just read about it for yourself here.  Out of control. I just wish I had thought it of first, since this is also my inaugural potato salad. Drat.

 

Moving on, it was the 4th of July and people everywhere are cooking out, BBQ’ing, picnicking and all around frolicking to celebrate our freedom and the colors red, white and denim. The spouse and I don’t have  huge circle of friends here in Seattle yet, and so opted for some quiet exploring, R&R and finishing Arrested Development season 4 ( for the third time) for our American celebration. Wanting to semi-particpate in the culinary delights of 7/4, we made some umami salmon burgers with avocado and some TJ’s Unexpected Cheddar. That stuff is the shit. For a side, I decided to go as traditional as I could, in that I’d make a potato salad. However, not being a fan of bland, mayo drenched dishes, I made up this one. I think its got a nice, flavor packed punch of liberty and isn’t so creamy that it makes nasty, glooping noises. You know what I mean right? This side dish has got some sun dried tomatoes, fresh herbs, oil, vinegar and capers which is a combination of ingredients that works with like, an infinite amount of things. To make it a little creamier, I added just a few dollops of greek yogurt. I think it was kick-ass. Perfect for Independence Day right?

 

As Nora Ephron said “I have made a lot of mistakes falling in love, and regretted most of them, but never the potatoes that went with them.”

 

Mediterranean Potato Salad

 

Boil a bunch of small potatoes ( I used fingerlings cuz they are adorable) for about 10-15 minutes, until soft but not mushy! Chop up and combine in a bowl:  basil, flat leaf parsley, sun dried tomatoes, diced shallots and capers. Heat up some oil in a small pan and add 1 or 2 diced garlic cloves with about a tablespoon of anise seeds. Stir till the garlic just barely toasts and remove from heat.

Once your potatoes are done boiling, drain the water and submerge in cold water. When they cool down a bit, dry, chop up and add to your bowl. Pour the oil, toasted garlic and anise seeds on top of the potatoes. Stir it all up. Make a quick vinaigrette with olive oil, a dash of red wine vinegar and whatever dried herbs you have on hand. Stir up quickly and pour over your mixture. Add a healthy dose of sea salt and black pepper to taste. If you want it a bit creamy, add a couple dollops of plain greek yogurt. Enjoy!