Read, Eat, Drink–Weekend Round-up

[Okay, okay, so it’s not the weekend anymore. But I was off to Alton, Illinois this weekend to hang with some awesome people, so I didn’t post my round-up on Friday like usual. Bad Maria.]

This week’s New York Times Sunday Book Review asks: “When Discussing Books, What Does ‘Taste’ Have to Do With It?”

Well, if you ask me, a lot. The concept of taste is something we run into every day in publishing. I pass on a lot of submissions just because they don’t fit my personal tastes. Some submissions editors receive don’t fit their personal tastes. And after all that, there’s still the chance that the book won’t fit the publisher’s taste.

So many decisions hinge on the idea of “taste,” but I most liked the way Adam Kirsch explained it:

“The problem with taste is that, as the wine example shows, it is very easy to counterfeit. ‘Good taste’ is more often a performance than a skill, and it can get mixed up with other kinds of performance, above all the signaling of class privilege. This is obviously the case when it comes to luxuries like wine and food, or expensive paintings. But literature, the most democratic art, offers few rewards for this kind of posturing. In literature, we can return taste to its roots in pleasure, and remember that good taste is really nothing more than openness to new kinds of experience.” 

Taste matters, but deciding who has “good taste” and who has “bad taste” completely misses the point. Literature–and ideally, publishing–should be about opening windows to new experiences, not closing them.


Fall Menu


I’ve declared this the fall of trying new recipes and menu planning. It makes our lives simpler (less desperate last-minute runs to the store), and it makes dinner more delicious (I crave the variety of new recipes). So far, it’s been a success! But it’s been exactly one week. So let’s not pull out the confetti guns and balloons yet…


Melissa Clark’s Spaghetti with Garlicky Breadcrumbs. We used kalamata olives instead of anchovies and whole wheat spaghetti. Save lots of the pasta water—you’ll need it! Overall, we liked this one, but as Jarrett said, “it wasn’t transcendent.” I guess we have high standards around here these days.
Photo via NYT Cooking.

Greek Chicken Pitas. I slightly overcooked the chicken (I know, I know, amateur hour). But this tzaitiki recipe is simple and delicious–definitely a keeper!

Seared Cod and Parmesan Potatoes. Just salt & pepper on the cod, and green beans cooked in butter and lemon on the side. Yum!

Orange Chicken & Brown Rice. I love takeout fakeout recipes for Chinese food. And Chung-Ah is absolutely the best at them. (And I’m not just saying that because she’s my client!) Oh, and we had a delicious heirloom tomato salad with this, so it was almost healthy.

I don’t think I can ever properly express how freaking awesome it is to have my very own mixologist. The drinks Jarrett makes are kind of insane. In a good way. Almost too good for a weeknight. (How did I have two Cosmos last night?)

Oh right, because they were these over-the-top White Cosmopolitans:

White Cosmo

Yes, it was exactly that beautiful. Maybe more so—my photography skills are not exactly top-o-the-line.

And yes, he actually froze a flower into a giant ball of ice. The man is obsessed with ice. We have four different shapes of ice trays in our freezer. I deeply wish that was an exaggeration.

Jarrett first had a White Cosmo at the mixology bar at Chateau Frontenec in Quebec City. And once he sees a fancy new drink, he absolutely has to recreate it at home. I think we can now officially open a bar from our kitchen and just serve these. That’ll be $17, please.

Or, I guess you could make them yourself. Here’s how:

Pour 2 ounces vodka, 1 ounce triple sec, 1 ounce lime juice, and 3 ounces white cranberry juice in a shaker with ice. Shake. Serve.

And don’t forget to tip your home bartender!

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