Food! · Julia P · Memoir · Non-Fiction · Race

The Cooking Gene | by Michael Twitty

The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South

The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African-American Culinary History in the Old South
by Michael Twitty
(Amistad, 2017, 464 pages)

The premise of Twitty’s book is to explore how African-Americans influenced Southern cooking as we know it today. He uses his own family history to trace this influence. It was interesting to learn about slaves being sent abroad to learn French culinary techniques so they could cook the cuisine their owners wanted. I also appreciated learning a bit about how slaves adapted to their new surroundings by seeing what was comparable to food they had back home or by finding ways to introduce their own culinary traditions to the new world they were a part of.

This book had received such acclaim and it dealt with issues I love reading about (food and race) that I was eager to finally pick it up. But it didn’t deliver for me. There are people that thoroughly enjoyed it, I just think it was billed as a different book than what it actually is. A considerable amount of the book was spent going through Twitty’s genealogy. Unfortunately, it read pretty dry to me and I felt like more time was devoted to figuring out his heritage (valuable, to be sure!) than talking about the culinary component (the whole reason I picked up the book).

Like I said, some people loved this book. I didn’t find the writing particularly compelling. The focus of the book should have been more on the food than on Twitty. I did learn some new things, but it was a slog trying to get through the book.

2.5/5 stars

Fiction · In the Library · Jean R · Thriller

The Rooster Bar | by John Grisham

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham
(Doubleday, 2017, 352 pages)

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham is the story of three friends, Mark, Todd, and Zola, who are about to start their final semester at a low-rated, for-profit law school. The friends realize that they have enormous school loan debts and little prospects for high paying careers after law school. The friends decide that are going to quietly drop out of law school, assume new identities to try to avoid their student loans, and earn some money in sometimes, unethical, illegal ways.

In this novel, Grisham highlights the problem with for-profit law schools and school loans from banks with shady practices. He also deals with immigration issues and suicide. Grisham credits the idea for this story to an article by Paul Campos entitled The Law School Scam that was published in 2014 in the journal, The Atlantic.

The Rooster Bar is an interesting story. At the beginning, I did not find the characters very likeable. As the novel progressed, I did find myself hoping that things would work out for them. The Rooster Bar was a worthwhile read.

4/5 stars