Friday, March 18, 2016

Sweet and Salty Squid Candies

I turn 41 today. If I were to write a food memoir, it would have to include these moments...That simple Spanish breakfast I had in Madrid when I was 8.  The baklava I tried in Greece when I was 20. That apple empanada I inhaled outside a Oaxaca bakery when I was 28. Those sweet potato fries in Ann Arbor when I was 37. Since 1) I can’t draw and 2) these were all pre-Instagram, they’ll have to remain in my memory (and thighs).

Luckily for us, Lucy Knisley can draw (and cook) and has captured her unforgettable food experiences in Relish: My Life in the Kitchen. She charmingly illustrates her childhood growing up with foodie parents, her teen rebellion in sneaking McDonald’s fries on a trip to Rome with her father, and first adult job as a cheese monger. Each chapter has a nice finish with a step by step depiction of a favorite recipe. The strata of huevos rancheros on page 75 will have you digging out the frying pan and adding queso fresco to your shopping list. Trust me. 

Since I'll be in Chicago next week, I've already earmarked page 159 for ideas of foods to try while I'm there. More memories in the making. 

Friday, March 11, 2016


In keeping with my reading challenge for 2016, I decided to read “a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years.” My choice? Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson since it was a NYPL pick and conveniently already on my daughter’s bookshelf.

Astrid and Nicole have been best friends since first grade. Now that they are 12, their different interests are pulling them in two directions. After Astrid’s mom takes them to see a roller derby, Astrid decides her destiny lies in being a roller girl. Nicole, disappointingly, decides to stick with dance camp with arch nemesis Rachel. Showing up for camp alone is one thing, but Astrid quickly realizes that showing up for camp with weak skating skills might be worse. As the summer progresses, however, Astrid becomes more confident on skates (and off) through the support of her teammates, her new friend Zoey, and motivational messages from derby star Rainbow Bite.

The author Victoria Jamieson, in addition to being an illustrator, is also a member of the Rose City Rollers Derby League.  Her experience shines through the stars of pain liberally sprinkled through the pages and the mantras of tougher, stronger, and fearless echoing over the rink. However, she also perfectly captures preteen Astrid’s world outside the rink. Everything from saying hi to a boy to a shopping trip with her mom is, well, awkward.  

I may not be ready to try out for a roller derby league, but this book definitely made me want to check out what it's all a bout.