Food Fad Fury

Bring a cookbook to morning tea and suddenly everybody at the table has an opinion.

  • Matt paper looks nice for about five minutes, but don’t put the book anywhere near where you actually cook. Drops and splashes look very nasty very quickly.
  • Cover of Dr Libby's Sweet Food StoryDr. Libby sucks all the joy out of life.
  • Reading a cookbook without intending to cook from it is fine. In fact it is officially A Big Thing.
  • Close-ups of the food in its raw state do not count as an illustration. We know what dirty potatoes look like – we want to know what the finished dish should look like once we’ve cooked it.
  • Beige is big but it’s not appetising.
  • One man’s meat is another woman’s poison. Paleo Pete‘s bone marrow broth may be the basis of the Paleo diet, but the very idea induces deep shudders in non-followers. Bone broth in a baby bottle is even worse.
  • Cover of Healthy Every DayCookbook writers should just take drugs to help them recover from their rare diseases. Modern medicine is a wonderful thing. Why bring food into it?
  • If you write a cookbook all your friends have to be good looking. Those who aren’t can have their arm appear at the edge of the picture – but only their arm.
  • All your dogs also have to be attractive. Cats can’t be in cookbooks due to their habit of sitting on the table or lounging in the dishdrainer.
  • All your table cloths have to be retro. Also your china. Nothing should match. Useful if you live in Christchurch.
  • Your garden can be overgrown, but in a good way – grass long enough to attract a council fire hazard notice telling you you’re in for a fine in the real word is picturesque in cookbook world.
  • Assemblage is O.K. – wrapping a bread stick in a bit of ham with some rocket sticking out the top counts as cooking if it’s in a cookbook.
  • Nut butter is vile.

Are you infuriated by any food fads? Please share.

Yours truly, Cecil

Letter to Hazel, 17 August 1914
Letter to Hazel, 17 August 1914

I have been reading a collection of letters by Cecil Malthus, who spent three years in service in the 1st Canterbury Battalion during the First World War.

The letters, which were written to his wife-to-be Hazel, have been digitised and are on our website. These letters chronicle Cecil’s time in the army from when he went into camp in April 1914. They follow his journey from the training camp to Hobart, across to the east coast of Africa, through the Suez Canal to Cairo. Cecil writes of his longing to say goodbye to his family and Hazel. He writes of the difficulties he experiences sharing a small space with a lot of working class men. He writes of the comfort gained from a letter from home. He needs more writing paper and envelopes, please.

Cecil thought he was going to the continent. He thought he was going to have some training in England. He didn’t. He arrived in Egypt in December, 1914. After undergoing more training, he shipped out to Gallipoli. He knew that Hazel and his family had read about the Gallipoli campaign in the news. His letters were, I think, intended to tell Hazel that all was going well and he was okay. While he was there, he was hospitalized with scarlet fever. Hazel wrote frequently and wanted to know about his friends. It was quite sad to read that his friends had all been killed, injured or transferred. Returning to his unit must have been very lonely.

Letter to Hazel, 11 September [1916]
Letter to Hazel, 11 September [1916]
Cecil finally arrived in France in the spring of 1915 and he wrote that it was better in France. His letters became infrequent as it became harder to get anything sent off. He still replied to Hazel’s comments and questions, but said nothing about the war. On 11 September, 1916, Cecil wrote what reads like a letter of goodbye. I’m sure that if I checked the official war records, I would learn that he was about to engage in a big push.

His letter dated 29th September was quite hard to read. I had become used to his handwriting, but this was an unfamiliar, spidery scrawl. He had been badly wounded and for him, the war was over. Cecil Malthus was discharged from the army on 5th April 1917.

Talking about Christchurch

Cover of Once in a lifetimeThe team at Freerange Press brought you one of the best books of 2014 – Once in a Lifetime: City-building after Disaster in Christchurch. Now they come bearing Talking Heads – a series of talks that explore the current state of play in Christchurch and expand upon themes and issues explored in the book.

The first discussion – Talking Heads #1 – is on the topic of asset sales. Councillor Raf Manji will be talking with one of the book’s editors James Dann.

Raf will be talking about how the council reached its decision to include selling assets as part of its response to Christchurch’s current financial situation (submissions for which close on April 28).

The talk is on Thursday 23 April 5.30pm at EPIC (96 Manchester Street, opposite Alices). James will also take questions from the floor, so you will get the chance to have your say.

Copies of the book Once in a Lifetime: City-building after Disaster in Christchurch will be available for $40.

The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Awards 2015

The shortlist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Awards 2015 is here and there are some gems among them!

2015 shortlist

Find out more: Ten books shortlisted for 2015 Award.

Cover of Americanah Cover of Horses of God Cover of Harvest Cover of The Narrow Road Cover of Burial Rites Cover of Transatlantic Cover of Someone

This award is presented every year for a novel written in English or translated into English and is now in its 20th year. Nominations are submitted by libraries in major cities throughout the world and it’s fascinating to see what favourites other librarians have picked.

Christchurch City Libraries nominated three books:

  • The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton (and to prove we’re not just favouring our own, the list of other nominations comes from all around the world: Belgium, Canada, Croatia and the UK.)
  • Life After Life, Kate Atkinson (also nominated by libraries in Australia, Canada, Beijing, Ireland, Russia, UK, USA.)
  • The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt (also Austraia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, USA.)

Cover of The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton Cover of The Goldinch by Donna Tartt Cover of Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Other libraries in New Zealand getting in on the action nominated:

Cover of The Blind Man's Garden, by Nadeem Aslam Cover of The Last Days of the National Costume, by Anne Kennedy Cover of The Infinite Air by Fiona Kidman Cover of The Disestablishment of Paradise by Phillip Mann

It’s also really interesting to see what books are highly regarded by libraries all over the world.

  • And the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini is hugely popular with nominations from Beijing, Tallin, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Russia, UK and the USA.
  • Canada is particularly taken with The Orenda, Joseph Boyden, with seven different Canadian nominations.
  • In Times of Fading Light, Eugen Ruge has been chosen by libraries in Hungary, Ireland and 4 nominations from Germany.
  • Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi, with nominations from Canada, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, and the USA.
  • A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki, with nominations from Canada, Ireland, The Netherlands, and 4 from the USA.
  • And nominations for Ghana Must Go, Taiye Selasi, a tale about ‘the simple devastating ways in which families tear themselves apart’ come from Belgium, Germany, South Africa, and the UK.

Cover of And The Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini Cover of In Times of Fading Light, by Eugen Ruge Cover of Americanah https://christchurch.bibliocommons.com/search?&t=smart&search_category=keyword&q=orenda%20boyden Cover of A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki Cover of Ghana Must Go, by Taiye Selasi

The final winner will be announced on the 17 June. Watch the official International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award website for details. Do you have a favourite among the nominees?

책과 2015년의 어느 가을

아침 저녁, 조금씩 차가운 기운이 감돌지만 아직은 따뜻한 햇살이 여름의 끝 자락을 붙 잡고 있는 가을입니다. 속 깊은 곳, 이유 없는 눈물이나 파란 가을을 쳐다 봅니다. 따뜻한 커피 한 잔, 그  옆에 놓인 책이 참 좋은 그림을 만드네요. 최근에 저희 도서관으로 새로 이사 온 책 몇 권을 소개합니다.

Book covers 어느 별에서 왔니”는 에니어그램으로 정의된 성격의 등장 인물들을 통해 일상 적인 이야기를 그려낸 인간 심리 소설입니다. 김현경이라는 젊은 작가의 신선한 접근에 도전해 보는 것도 괜찮을 것 같다는 생각을 해 봅니다.

2014 년19회 한계례 문학상 수상자  최지원의 “상실의 시간들” 은 평범한 사람의 평범한 죽음이라는 의미를 집요하게 파헤친 작품입니다. 수많은 사건, 사고 뉴스들로 인해 무뎌져 버린 우리들에게, 이 책은 내 주변의 실질적인 죽음으로 근본적인 인간의 삶과  죽음의 한계를 생각하게 합니다.

김범의 “공부해서 너 가져“는 청소년이 주안공인 소설 입니다. 하지만 청소년과 함께 어른들도     읽 으 면 참 좋겠습니다. 이 책은 교육에대한 이야기입니다. 그러나 사실 이 글은 교육이라는 이름을 가진 폭력 조직에 대한 고발입니다.  이 세상의 모든 아이들은  특별합니다. 그들이 마음껏 웃으며 무럭무럭 자라서 지신만이 가진 재능을 나누는 세상이 반드시  올 것이라고 대단한 거짓말을  한번 해 봤습니다. –  작가의 말 중에서

4월 1일 부터  5월 17일 까지 크라이스트쳐치 시립도서관에 대한 설문 조사를하고 있습니다. 온라인으로 또는 가까운 도서관에서 비치 된 설문지를 작성하면 됩니다.

작은 알림이지만 큰 행복으로 굴러 갔으면 합니다.

Even in my former life I was working class

51IM6lHhFLL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_When I was younger I had the privilege of living in London for a couple of years. Like most people on their OE, I visited all the historic sites I could get my hands on including Warwick Castle. Warwick Castle is a medieval castle that has undergone massive restoration to give the visitor a real feel for a thousand years of English history. Entering into the medieval kitchen I can remember being hit with a very strong sense of déjà vu. This medieval kitchen felt very familiar to me with the strong smells of the herbs, rushes on the floor and seething cauldrons, open fires and hanging livestock. I didn’t have the same sensation when I went upstairs into the Lord and Lady’s living area! It would appear I have been scrambling for a living for longer than what I can even remember which is rather depressing. It may though explain my interest in history.

One of the best books that I have read in a long time has been Ian Mortimer’s The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England. It reads like a Lonely Planet Travel Guide except the place you are visiting isn’t on any current map instead it is a time. It will tell you about who you will meet in Medieval England, what they will wear and where you can stay and expect to eat. For a start, green vegetables are considered poisonous and potatoes have yet to be discovered. If you are staying overnight anywhere it is also considered good manners to hand over your sword until you leave. I already have a hold on Ian Mortimer’s The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England.

Eating books – The Edible Book Competition at CPIT

Yesterday I got to judge my first literary prize. And eat the winner.  My fellow judges were a wise and witty crew –  Emily Spink – reporter at The Press, Sheila McBreen-Kerr of CPIT, and Joe Bennett – writer and columnist.

See our photos of the edible books.

We were mightily impressed with the entries.  Ingenious, humourous, adorable, creepy – they had it all. We browsed, and cogitated.  And here’s what we decided:

Best interpretation of a book: 50 shades of Grey, made by Sarah Chin
CPIT Edible Book Competition

This was my category to choose a winner for. 50 shades of grey cupcakes was a thing of beauty, each cupcake a different shade of grey, with a hint of manacles to subtly allude to the book’s naughtiness. It was also quite cool to be able to bestow a literary prize on E.L. James who I account a woman of taste.

Other winners:

Most delectable: The hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse – Julie Humby
CPIT Edible Book Competition

Most Imaginative: Frankenstein – Kiri Te Wake
CPIT Edible Book Competition

Check out his sewn up mouth!
CPIT Edible Book Competition

Funniest: The Tale of Peter Rabbit – Kiri Te Wake
CPIT Edible Book Competition

Best in Show: Sconehenge – Hugh Wall
CPIT Edible Book Competition

Everyone who came along got to vote too, and the People’s Choice was the seasonally appropriate and stunning Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse (yes, there is such a book – it is by Robert Rankin who I had the good fortune to meet at an Armageddon a few years ago).

Armageddon 2010

See our photos.

Thanks to:

  • The super clever entrants,
  • CPIT Library and the Food & Hospitality Department
  • Sponsors: Academy Books, Southern Hospitality.

Read CPIT’s blog post on the event.

Easter 2015

3 April 2015 is Good Friday (note: not Easter Friday). In New Zealand both the Friday (Good Friday) and the Monday of Easter are statutory public holidays, so libraries will be closed. But Saturday and Sunday aren’t public hols – so libraries will be open – except Linwood Library at Eastgate which will be closed on Easter Sunday.

Ballantynes Easter
Ballantynes Easter, Friday 1 March 2013. Flickr CCL-2013 -03-13-IMG_4517-1

One of my favourite Easter things is to crank up the old Victrola and listen to Jesus Christ Superstar. I was raised on the original version with Yvonne Elliman as Mary Magdalene, Murray Head as Judas, and the part of Jesus sung by Ian Gillan, the lead singer of Deep Purple. It is very shouty and sing-a-longa-tastic.

Our other family Easter watch was the miniseries Jesus of Nazareth. Directed by Franco Zeffirelli, it had an astonishing cast including Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov and Anne Bancroft. Robert Powell was Jesus, and Ian McShane was Judas. The most beautiful woman ever to light up the screen – Olivia Hussey – was Jesus’s mother Mary. She was Juliet in Zefferelli’s version of Romeo and Juliet. John Duttine from the awesome tv series The Day of the Triffids was the apostle John.

Easter Parade

Easter Parade heading down Oxford Terrace toward the Catholic Cathedral in Barbadoes Street.  Forester’s Hotel is on the left. c. 1950 Flickr HW08-img-fe111

The Read Harder Challenge

Book cover of the paying guestsI always begin the year with great intentions of completing a million reading challenges, and inevitably my enthusiasm tapers off after the first few months. (I love how Robyn manages to make one book count for many categories. I might have to steal that trick later in the year.) This time I’ve decided to attempt the Read Harder Challenge 2015 because it looks fun and might make me read a bit wider, which is one of my more attainable New Year resolutions (she says optimistically).

So far I seem to be doing pretty well just from reading books I wanted to read anyway, but looking ahead I can see some difficulties. Can anyone recommend an entertaining self-help book? Or a published author under the age of 25?

Book cover of the strange libraryHere’s what I’ve managed to tick off:

Is anyone else doing a reading challenge?

International Children’s Book Day

Book cover of ThumbelinaInternational Children’s Book Day is celebrated every year on 2 April, which is also Hans Christian Andersen‘s birthday.  It is a special day where we celebrate children’s books and encourage children to read.  We have lots of fantastic books from all over the world in our libraries, in lots of different forms.

Here are some ideas of ways that you could celebrate International Children’s Book Day: