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Out & About

Book Nook

Sweet and Savory Reads to sink your teeth into

Kane County Magazine

My first job out of college, I worked in a chocolate shop and I remember tasting a small piece of a citrus truffle because I had to sample everything we sold. I remember my first glass of Gewürztraminer, and the pronunciation lesson my first boyfriend paired it with. And I remember the first bite of the almond cake I ate at my high school graduation dinner.

It’s no wonder that the world of food and drink has been the subject of so many books – they’re closely tied to memory, emotion and love.

This September, check out these sumptuous food-filled stories.

‘Sweetbitter’
By Stephanie Danler

In “Sweetbitter,” Tess, a recent college graduate from Ohio, moves to New York with no plans, no friends and no money. But a new set of worries occupies her mind during her first year as a back waiter in a ritzy New York City restaurant. Tess learns the ins-and-outs of the restaurant world with the help of Simone – a sophisticated but suspiciously-kind wine manager, who takes Tess under her wing – and Jake – a brooding bad-boy bartender and the object of Tess’s ill-fated infatuation. Since she’s only 22, we see her make youthful mistakes and, as much as she learns about the restaurant industry, her biggest education is learning about who she is. Danler’s writing is elegant and gives an apt juxtaposition to Tess’s messy life.

‘Cork Dork’
By Bianca Bosker   

Bianca Bosker takes us on a sensory adventure while studying for the Certified Sommelier exam. The language she uses to describe wine tasting is as delicious as the wines themselves, and she shows how the world of wine tasting depends on a sommelier’s ability to describe wines beautifully and accurately. She also shows how the world of wine is filled with contradictions: classy wine-tasting events often end in debauchery; wine managers drink from vintage bottles that cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, but live in tiny apartments; and a sommelier’s enjoyment of wine is often matched by the stress that comes with learning about it. “Cork Dork” shows that sommeliers aren’t just people who like being snobby about wine – they are psychoanalysts, historians, biologists, poets, businesspeople, chemists, and servants – and there is an art to what they do.

‘Like Water for Chocolate’
By Laura Esquivel

“Like Water for Chocolate” tells the story of Tita, the youngest daughter caught in a family tradition that forces her to take care of her aging mother instead of marrying and raising a family of her own. Despite her duty, she falls in love with Pedro, who marries Tita’s sister Rosaura so he can be as close to Tita as possible. Tita’s role as caretaker also includes cooking duties, and her meals have a magical effect on anyone who eats them. The story doubles as a cookbook. Esquivel weaves Mexican recipes, like mole and quails in rose-petal sauce, into the story to highlight the tension and emotion within Tita’s family.  Esquivel’s novel is pure passion and will leave you dreaming of romance (and dinner!).

Allison Manley was born in Georgia and raised in Island Lake. She graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in creative writing. She loves opera, craft beer, and (of course!) reading.

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