Friday, November 16, 2018

The End of Tsukiji

"Elegy of a Tsukiji Tour Guide" by Jacob Dean was just published in the online magazine Taste. The world-famous Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo closed last month. I've read about it often, but my trips to Tokyo have never been sufficiently leisurely for me to visit there: as this article explains, the market wasn't particularly tourist friendly despite being a very big tourist attraction. Dean writes:
"Now, it’s over. Tsukiji Market, as it was, no longer exists. It was closed on October 6 and demolition officially began soon after, to make way for the most pedestrian of eminent domain insults: a parking lot for visitors of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Yes, the outer market is still there, and you can still eat sushi and buy trinkets from the remaining tourist-friendly vendors. Certainly the neighborhood of Tsukiji (which the market was named after) remains, although it’s unclear how it will fare now that its main attraction is gone. And yes, a new market called Toyosu, in a different neighborhood, has replaced it. But Tsukiji is gone, and in a sad way, so is the magic."
A screen-shot of a photo from the article maybe gives a hint why the market didn't want random strangers wandering around in the sales and auctioning areas of the market:

As the photo indicates, the legendary market was best-known for the huge tuna, which sometimes sold at auction there in the millions of dollars. A lot of controversy exists about overfishing of huge tuna, which I discussed a bit in my very recent review of Kurlansky's book Salt (blog post from earlier this week here: Tuna and Salt). The article about the market caught my eye especially because I had just been thinking about it when reading and writing about tuna. Books and articles about this famous market have fascinated me for a long time; in particular, I've also read the book Tsukiji: The Fish Market at the Center of the World by Theodore Bestor -- a classic study of the Tokyo fish market, which was published in 2004.

Taste -- the interesting online magazine where the Tsukiji article appeared -- is written "for people who love to cook at home and enjoy reading about approachable recipes, popular and emerging ingredients, and stories reported from the frontlines of today’s quickly moving food culture." I've been reading Taste often recently and find it very appealing. I was wondering how it was funded, as it doesn't seem to run any advertising, and found this line at the bottom of the pages:

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Proust and Three Upper Class Models for his Characters

Here's a very intriguing idea for a book: research the three women who inspired Proust's composite creation of the Duchesse de Guermantes in his million-page book In Search Of Lost Time or as it was translated 100 years ago, Remembrance of Things Past. Author Caroline Weber did exactly that in her recent book Proust's Duchess: How Three Celebrated Women Captured the Imagination of Fin-de-Siecle Paris. (Publication Date: May 22, 2018). A long book: I managed to read it all, and I am very sorry to say, I don't think it was worth it. 

Weber found a huge gynormous mahoosive amount of material on the three celebrated women, and she doesn't seem to have left out anything at all. She includes some very interesting and amusing paragraphs and even a few good chapters, but way too much other stuff.  Here's what she finds intriguing about the social situation in the late 19th century in Paris:
"The existence of a rarefied parallel universe, inaccessible to the rest of society, represented a maddening enigma to the people it excluded. In defiance of the history that had supposedly destroyed it, the hereditary gentry asserted the abiding power of entitlements conferred by birth." (p. 30). 
However, the sheer volume of material Weber includes about these self-perpetuating nobles and their hangers-on is overwhelming. It's hard to stay focused on the ins and outs of aristocrats who had survived into the late 19th-century Paris Republic and how intermarriage with non-nobles enabled them to maintain an aristocratic life in their chateaus and mansions. It's hard even when you are promised that persistence will give you all sorts of insight into the time and into the milieu that interested Proust.

Somewhere around the middle of the book, I think Weber herself was getting a bit overwhelmed -- she starts jumping back and forth in time, telling first one thing then another about one and then another of the three women, their husbands, their in-laws, their lovers, their husbands' and lovers' political and literary aspirations, their salons and costume balls, the tailor shop that produced livery for their servants, the way they kept up their reputations in the popular press, and more. Reading, I found, became more and more challenging. 

Finally in the last few chapters, after something like 500 pages, Weber actually gets to the young Proust's relationship to these women, when he finagles invitations to their aristocratic and high-level intellectual salons. Then it gets a little interesting for a while, as Proust didn't fit in very well -- or as one of the people who introduced him into these salons said: “Do you not see that your presence in her salon would rid it of the very grandeur you hope to find there?” (p. 562). 

I was especially disappointed because in this wealth of detail, elegant formal dinners and other meals are often mentioned, but we are rarely told what was on the menu. Here's an exceptional description: "Two hours before all the rest of her invitees were slated to arrive, the princesse had plied her inner circle with truite à la Condé, mousse au foie gras, and liqueurs Congrès de Vienne." (p. 38).

One big surprise for me: though there are quite a few references to the Dreyfus case, the author includes very little about it in her extremely detailed political and social history that affected the three women. Because there's so much other background material, and so much about the Jewish elements of Paris society (including the Jewish identity of one of the three women and including quite a bit about the Rothschilds), this makes me uneasy. Why isn't it there?

Why did I buy this book? I don't remember where I read a review of the book that led me to it. However, in preparing to write this blog post, I looked up the Washington Post's review, "A 19th-century Parisian world of style over substance that reflects modern life" by Katrin Schultheiss, chair of the History Department at George Washington University. This reviewer summarizes the book very effectively. Just her review would almost be enough, without the book -- well, almost. Here's her summary of the three women:
"The three aristocratic women at the center of this elegantly written and deeply researched 'triple biography,' Laure de Sade (Comtesse Adhéaume de Chevigné), Geneviève Halévy Bizet Straus and Élisabeth de Riquet de Caraman-Chimay (Vicomtesse — later Comtesse — Greffulhe), are 19th-century paragons of that quintessential 21st-century phenomenon: the media icon and 'tastemaker' who is famous primarily for being famous. 
"Although these women’s careers as socialites depended on the persistence of the fragile, deeply anachronistic world of the old aristocracy, their not-insubstantial cultural influence was made possible by the modernizing forces that threatened their very existence as a social class."

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

"Linguistics: Why it Matters"

Many of my fellow bloggers are very interested in language. One group, for example, looks for new and unusual words in their reading; each Wednesday each of them writes a post with a list of their words and definitions (hosted HERE each Wednesday).

Clearly there are a lot of us who find the English language to be interesting and worth thinking about. On this topic, I would like to recommend a challenging new book: Linguistics: Why it Matters by the linguist Geoffrey K. Pullum.

A few sentences from the introduction:
"This book is about the point of studying human language scientifically, and what importance that study has for broader concerns. The relevant scientific study is known as linguistics... 
"Linguistics is not at all the same as the study of particular languages or their literatures. ... 
"I'm not trying to give any sort of introduction to linguistics in this relatively short book; plenty of other books do that. What I'm trying to do is to survey just a few topics that I feel make a clear case for saying that linguistics is not just an intellectually intriguing academic subject but a practically important one." (pp. vi-vii)
Each chapter of the book covers a topic that's studied by linguists, and explains its importance. I enjoyed each one, but I find the last chapter, "Machines that Understand Us," especially intriguing. In it, the author explodes some common misconceptions about seemingly very capable machines like robots, search engines, and iPhones. Often people become convinced that these devices understand language and use it in a human way; newspaper articles often hype such understanding in an exaggerated way.

It's so easy to be fooled by a computer! Many programs such as Google search, Alexa, or Siri seem to respond in a human way to a wide variety of questions, either typed or spoken. However, the book explains the critical difference between producing a convincing response, based on a machine's vast databases and a few tricks, and actually "understanding what the question said." (p. 88)

The chapter on machine understanding also includes a thought-provoking (and I would say rather difficult) discussion of what would be involved in effective processing of natural languages -- a task that hasn't yet been accomplished.

This is subtle -- I hope you decide to read it for yourself!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Tuna and Salt

"In the Old Testament it is mentioned that Jerusalem fish markets were supplied by Tyre [home of the Phoenicians], and the fish they sold was probably salted fish, since fresh fish would have spoiled before reaching Jerusalem." writes Mark Kurlansky in his book Salt: A World History, which I just reread.

Salt is a wonderful book! It covers many topics including history, cuisine, commerce, and exploitation of laborers. It presents facts about salt in many civilizations and political situations including the ancient Mediterranean world, China through the ages, American Indians, the colonial era in the Caribbean, the motives for building the Erie Canal, and lots of others.

One theme that recurs is about the interconnections between tuna fishing (and in fact all fishing) and the procurement of sea salt. Instead of a review of the book, I'm just going to think about what Kurlansky said about tuna, what I can learn about the current state of tuna, and what I've said in my many posts about tuna in the past.

Tuna in the Ancient World

"Ancient Phoenician coins with images of the tuna have been found near a number of Mediterranean ports. At the time, bluefin tuna, the swift, steel-blue-backed fish that is the largest member of the tuna family, might have attained sizes of over 1,500 pound each, but this is according to ancient writers who also believed the fish fed on acorns." (p. 45)

Phoenician coin showing a tuna. (source)
The Phoenicians, Kurlansky points out, were among the earliest merchants of both salt and tuna. He explains how tuna appear seasonally throughout the Mediterranean and have been fished there since ancient times.  Their life cycle involves adult fish swimming from their usual home in the Atlantic Ocean through the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean. These migratory fish pass between North Africa and Sicily, by Greece and the Bosporous, and they eventually make it to the Black Sea.

The Phoenicians had ports in all these locations, from which they fished tuna, and near which they often made the salt needed for preserving these fish. Later in history, the Roman physician Galen "said that the best salt fish he knew was called sarda, but he also praised the tuna salted in Sardinia or in Gades, Spain, and salted mullet from the Black Sea. Sarda may refer to the small tuna now called bonito.... " (p. 68)

Note: I wrote a post about Kurlansky's Salt in 2008: Salt: Demons, Guardians, Inventors.

Mediterranean Tuna

At the time Kurlansky wrote, the migration of bluefin tuna continued as it had for millenia, and they could still be caught in off Sicily in huge nets up to 4 miles long, following the ancient traditions. The tuna are driven into the nets and eventually slaughtered -- currently by a scuba diver. "Twenty-five hundred years ago, in The Persians, Aeschylus, describing the Greek destruction of the Persian Navy, said it was like slaughtering tuna. The large bluefin, even though tired out from the weeks of manipulation, thrash and struggle. The Mediterranean turns black with their blood, and the foam of the water turns scarlet as they are stabbed, gaffed, landed, and shipped to Japan." (p. 418)

Fishing boats that we saw in Sicily in 2007.
More recently, however, the fish have been coming close to extinction. The bluefin tuna catch in the Mediterranean was valued at £400 million, and the catch is probably too large for the population to be sustainable. Mediterranean tuna farming involves capturing smaller fish and raising them in ponds: this has resulted in even more pressure on the species.

"Some scientists estimate that up to 20,000 tonnes of tuna are illegally caught each year. As a consequence of this, the Mediterranean tuna industry is feared to be on the verge of collapse." (source)

Sicilian traditionally prepared tuna eggs called bottarga and a variety of salted tuna have been the traditional product of the area near the city of Trapani, Kurlansky writes. "Typical of Sicilian towns, Trapani has a Phoenician-Roman-Norman-Arab-Crusader history." A traditional dish is made with bottarga grated "over spaghetti with olive oil, garlic, and chopped parsley. The eggs come from the bluefin tuna that enter the Strait of Gibralter once a year and swim past westrn Sicily to their Mediterranean spawning grounds." (p. 416)

The Camargue, a vast salt marsh at the delta of the Rhone River in France, is famous also for fish and salt. In the village of Les Mejanes in the Camargue, we ate Salade Niçoise when we were birding there a couple of years ago. It included all the classic components: tuna, potatoes, green beans, anchovies, boiled egg quarters, olives, tomatoes, and in addition a decorative piece of toast and radish flower. I've written many posts about making Salade Niçoise because I love it.

Another location that's discussed in Kurlansky's book is the Mediterranean coast of Spain. We spent a month there in 1996, in an apartment overlooking the sea. I was fascinated by the market where fresh Mediterranean fish was sold along with a variety of fruit, vegetables, bakery goods, and many local specialties. Here's a somewhat unclear picture of my preparation of Salade Niçoise made with fresh tuna in my kitchen in Alicante:

Tuna in Japan

"These days Sicilians don't eat their bluefin tuna in any form; they sell it fresh for dazzlingly high prices. Ninety percent of the local catch is landed one hour after being killed and instantly sold and flown to Japan." (Salt, p. 417)

At a small sushi restaurant in Tokyo some years ago, we saw this large piece of tuna that had been purchased that morning at the Tsukiji Market. Tuna at Tsukiji come from fishing ports worldwide as Kurlansky mentions. It's consumed especially at sushi restaurants where the chefs demand the best quality fish. I have no way of knowing if this fish came from the Mediterranean or from some other tuna fishing site.

The next photo shows the action at Tsukiji market from the documentary "Jiro Dreams of Sushi." I loved the scenes set there, and the interviews with the vendors who sell to Jiro's son. Jiro himself stopped going to the market when he was 70 years old.

Kurlansky's book dates from 2002, so of course he didn't know of the recent closing of the famous fish market, which has moved to another location.

Tuna In My Kitchen

In the course of writing blog posts on my own cooking, I've posted dozens of photos of the tuna I use -- both canned and fresh -- and what I make from it. I enjoyed thinking about how eating tuna places me in a long history of appreciation of the often huge fish. But also about how sad it is that after all this time, humans have almost finished off the once-plentiful bounty of the ocean. Maybe I should be embarrassed to eat this delicacy --

Tuna and white bean salad. Using pantry ingredients, I can almost always make this.

Salade Niçoise at my table, with placemats from Provence.
Tuna on my pantry shelf: from Costco. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The most famous mural in Ann Arbor

Five authors: Woody Allen, Edgar Allan Poe, Hermann Hesse, Franz Kafka, and Anaïs Nin.
As seen from my dentist's office across the street.
From another window in the dentist's office. 
Years ago, the dentist's waiting room used to feature a small
shelf of books by each of the authors, but that's gone now.
From the sidewalk nearby, with crude graffiti on the US mail storage box.
This mural is often depicted when a newspaper article published in another city needs a generic "Ann Arbor" photo. Dozens of images of it appear on the web as well. The mural was originally painted in 1984 by Richard Wolk, and he was hired to restore it in 2010. Within just a few moments walk, one can see quite a few other murals on walls and in alleyways.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Using my Silpat Mats

Pumpkin, onions, potatoes, carrots, and fines herbs for roasted vegetable soup.
Cauliflower sprinkled with fennel seed and salt. 
I don’t bake cookies much so my amazon-brand silpat mats were on the shelf, unused, for a long time. Recently I tried using them for roasting vegetables. Results are great. I brush the veggies with oil, sprinkle with spice, and roast at 425º for around an hour. They don’t stick but they do get brown. And the cleanup is easy.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Walter Isaacson's Leonardo

Mona Lisa: "the culmination of a life spent perfecting the ability to stand at the intersection of art and nature. The poplar panel with multiple layers of light oil glazes, applied over the course of many years, exemplifies the multiple layers of Leonardo's genius. What began as a portrait of a silk merchant's young wife became a quest to portray the complexities of human emotion, made memorable through the mysteries of a hinted smile, and to connect our nature to that of our universe. The landscape of her soul and of nature's soul are intertwined." (Isaacson, Leonardo da Vinci, p. 475)
This Little Free Library continues to know what I should read and have it waiting for me. Current reading: a pristine copy of Leonardo  da Vinci by Walter Isaacson. It's a beautiful work full of color illustrations included directly in the text, so that it's really a joy to read. (I can't believe someone just anonymously gave it away to me!)

Leonardo was surely one of the most talented and imaginative humans of all time, and Isaacson clearly holds him in awe. There's much more to this famous painter than a few well-known surviving masterpieces such as Mona Lisa, several other portraits, and the overpowering -- though unfinished -- paintings of the Virgin with Saint Anne and others.

Isaacson's book describes Leonardo's art, his scientific work, and his vast quantity of notebooks full of notes, sketches, and diagrams. Isaacson also clearly examined the huge body of Leonardo scholarship, and conveys it in a very interesting way, including a discussion of how scholars authenticate newly found "Leonardo" works.

Leonardo's interests included human anatomy, animal anatomy, fluid dynamics, military machines, learning how birds fly, imagining man-made flying machines, creating maps and charts, studying geometry, and many more subjects beyond art. His accomplishments were amazing and often far ahead of his contemporaries' understanding. There's one problem with these accomplishments: he virtually never published his work. In quite a few cases, if scientists had known what he knew, the course of intellectual history would have been very different.

Leonardo's studies often began with the motive of drawing and painting better images. For example, he believed that understanding the nerves and muscles was a essential to creating the type of drawings and paintings he wanted to make. Among many studies, he examined the muscles of the face to learn how to create more realistic facial expressions -- like a smile. He often went far beyond what was needed for artistic purposes.

In Leonardo's anatomy studies, he worked at a hospital doing dissections, and worked with a professor of medicine. As he learned about the anatomic structures that could lead to better art, he became fascinated by the subject. He then went further and further, such as observing and sketching the mechanics and fluid flow of the heart, veins, arteries, and even capillaries, and even opening a living pig to see the heart's live function. His observations and detailed experiments of how the heart's aortic valve works were especially impressive: one particular discovery, recorded in his unpublished writings, was only rediscovered in the 1960s! (p. 419)

Isaacson's organization of the overpowering collection of materials at his disposition is an awesome feat in itself. He combines biography, art criticism, intellectual history, and more in what I would see as a seamless whole. His descriptions of the major art works are insightful. He explains the events and circumstances of Leonardo's life during the time he was painting. Individual chapters cover Leonardo's work in major areas of scientific and engineering studies, placing them in their historic and scientific context. As a result it's a wonderful and readable book. Although I have read about Leonardo and also about the history of his era, I learned a great deal.

Isaacson's chapter on "Vitruvian Man" is an example of the masterful way he presents his research into the artist. This chapter made me look at this famous work in a new way. Originally described in the work of the Roman author Vitruvius (who lived in the first century BCE), these classic proportions of the human body were the subject of discussions among a set of friends of Leonardo. Several of them also tried to illustrate the idea of a man inscribed in a circle and an offset square. However, only Leonardo made this diagram into a lasting and incredible work of art.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Watching "Fat Salt Acid Heat"

Based on the book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking, a new Netflix series covers the four elements of cooking. These were explored in Samin Nosrat's book (published 2017). I haven't read the book, but what I understand is that it's really about cooking techniques. In contrast, the Netflix series is essentially a travelogue with lots of discussions of local cooking and lots of interviews and cooking sessions with local food people. Each episode includes the cooking of a few specialties of the region, and shows Samin tasting the results with wonderful facial gestures in response. It's a highly enjoyable series!

The Italian countryside from the first episode of the Netflix series.
Every episode has beautifully filmed landscapes, as well as visits to farmers' markets and places where traditional foods are produced. In Italy, featured in the "Fat" episode, we visit a butcher shop that makes salumi from special pigs. (We also meet the pigs.) We visit a Parmesan cheese producer and learn that the dominant flavor of Parmesan is not just fat, but also umami, the elusive fifth taste that comes from amino acid, in this case visible crystals of amino acid that form as the wheels of cheese are aged.

Samin tastes the lardo from a leg of pork. She was born in California, but her family had recently immigrated
from Iran -- where of course pork is taboo.
Episode 2: Japanese traditional foods are the focus for Salt.

A visit to a traditional soy sauce factory.
The artisian soy sauce producers are disappearing.

Episode 3: In the Yucatan, Mexico, we learn about acid -- and also its opposite, alkali. The corn for tortillas is soaked in an alkaline solution, which makes it usable and also more digestible. Here: partially automated tortilla production. We also see
the even more traditional hand-forming and grilling of little corn tortillas.
A major source of acid flavor in the cuisine of the Yucatan is the sour orange. Here, Samin shops and cooks with
a local woman, learning to make turkey in escabeche.
Samin's expressive response to habanero peppers!
The final episode, Heat, takes place in Berkeley, California, where Samin has lived since attending college at UC Berkeley.
She worked at Chez Panisse, where part of the episode takes place.
The series wraps up in Samin's own Berkeley kitchen.
Dinner in her dining room.
Samin's mother and some friends eat roast chicken and a traditional Persian
saffron rice.

The Netflix series Salt Fat Acid Heat debuted a few weeks ago. It deserves the great reviews that it's been getting ever since. All photos are screen shots!

Friday, November 02, 2018

Briefly Noted

Recent reading and TV: a few more books and series from BBC TV. I don't feel like doing a full review of these: I want to move on and read and blog other things. So here's a little bit about each one:

Another book that found me because it
was in a Little Free Library!
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout (published 2016).

Here is a quote that I feel captures the spirit of the character Lucy Barton, a fragile woman who can't believe she's worth anything:
"This is not the story of my marriage; I have said that I cannot write the story of my marriage. But sometimes I think about what first husbands know. I married William when I was twenty years old. I wanted to cook him meals. I bought a magazine that had fancy recipes, and I gathered the ingredients. William passed through the kitchen one evening and looked at what was in the frying pan on the stove, then he came through the kitchen again. "Button," he said, "what's this?" I said it was garlic. I said the recipe called for a clove of garlic to be sautéed in olive oil. With gentleness he explained that this was a bulb of garlic, and that it needed to be peeled and opened into the cloves. I can picture the unpeeled big bulb of garlic now -- so clearly -- sitting in the middle of the olive oil in the frying pan." (p. 172-173)  

The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It by Tilar J. Mazzeo (published 2008). 

Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin was born in 1777, and thus came of age during the French Revolution. With her husband François, she started a champagne business in Rheims, France. When he died, she became known as Veuve Clicquot, or the Widow Clicquot. With force and initiative she figured out how to improve the methods of making champagne, to find markets, and to create brand identity for her product, making it wildly successful. Her name still is on bottles of Veuve Clicquot Champagne.

Author Tilar J. Mazzeo, using the scant information available about the early life of Barbe-Nicole, and researching the archives of the business from later in her life, creates an amazing biography, though sometimes a bit gushing in describing Barbe-Nicole's imagined emotions.
"We know this wine as champagne. François and Barbe-Nicole would have called it just vin mousseux— sparkling wine. It wasn’t regularly called champagne even in France until the 1860s, when it had all become big business. What is most surprising is how different champagne looked and tasted at the end of the eighteenth century. It would have been virtually unrecognizable to most of us." (p. 25). 
A remarkable woman, a workaholic to the end of her life:
"Years later, the traveler Robert Tomes remembered 'Madame Clicquot [as] a dwarfish, withered old woman of eighty-nine years, whose whole soul was in business, scanning over each day to her last the ledger of the commercial house to which she had given her name." (p. 160). 
This book is labeled by as an "oenobiography" -- a wonderful word! Remember, the prefix oeno- means wine! As in oenophile, a lover of wine. Or my made-up word oenophony, a wine poseur.

If He Hollers Let Him Go by Chester Himes (published 1945).

An NPR review describes this novel:
"In 1945, Himes' novel If He Hollers Let Him Go was published — both his first, and the first in the vein of what some contemporaries would deride as protest novels. And they were. Himes never soft-pedaled his disdain for the systemic racism of the day or for black integrationists, whom he referred to as 'whining beggars.'" (source)
If He Hollers is a very powerful book. As I read, I was amazed at how well it holds up to the test of time, how completely Himes' sentiments about racism and alienation are in tune with the attitudes and problems our society, sadly, continues to harbor. Its almost unbearable to read it and know that we are in fact losing the tiny advances that we may have made for a while.

Himes is more famous for his series of hard-boiled detective fiction, the Harlem Cycle, featuring NYPD Detectives "Coffin" Ed Johnson and "Grave Digger" Jones. I've read some of these, but was curious about this one, which conveniently turned up in the Little Free Library.

The Muralist by B.A.Shapiro (published 2015).

I only read half of this. With what's happening in the world, especially in Pittsburgh, I couldn't read another word of a Holocaust novel. The following quote illustrates what type of book it is.
"Grand-mère was sitting in a chair in the communal living room, sun brushing her right shoulder, the rest of her in dusk. When I was a child, my favorite thing was to bake with her. She taught me how to make pain d’amande and challah; dripping the melted butter over the braided loaf is one of my sweetest memories. I still bake the cookies, often when I’m feeling a little lonely; the intoxicating aroma of almonds and butter never fails to lift my spirits. It hurt to see Grand so small, so pulled inward, so vacant. I wondered if the large woman who made potato latkes so rich and crisp they melted and crunched in your mouth at the same time, who beat the pants off her friends at the poker table, who loved her family with a fierceness that was scary at times, was somewhere inside this tiny husk of a woman. If she still existed at all." (p. 66). 
Strike and Ellacott as the BBC casts them.  
Galbraith's Cormoran Strike on BBC TV.

Also recently, we watched the BBC dramatization of the first three Cormoran Strike novels by Robert Galbraith. The executive producer is J.K.Rowling, who also admits to having written the books under the name Robert Galbraith.

The series stars Tom Burke as Cormoran Strike and Holliday Grainger as Robin Ellacott, the two main characters from the books. They and all the rest of the cast seem perfect to me, and sometimes I had the feeling that I had already "seen" the sets when I read the books. And yes, they do show the two partners in detection eating Pad Thai or the like, and drinking wine or beer at many bars with lots of English pub atmosphere.

I'm now looking forward to the next in the BBC series: four promised episodes of Lethal White, the new Cormoran Strike book which I read in September (review here). After reading Lethal White I reread the first two novels in the series as well. I guess I'm really hooked. Can't wait for the fifth novel!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Halloween Parade

Burns Park School has been having a Halloween parade for at least 70 years. Here's the beginning of the 2018 parade.


Several very good inflatable costumes amused me very much, especially this sumo wrestler. 
A few hours later the kids were trick-or-treating.
On our porch after dark. We were "open" from 5 to 8 PM, and handed out treats to around 100 kids (and a few adults).