“I wish I had more time to read!”Everyone in pre-pandemic era
This is the sentence we’ve been hearing a lot in our pre-pandemic lives. Now, it seems like our wish came true. Those of us who are lucky to stay safely at home are finally able to catch up their wish list of books. It was the same for me, and I got the chance to dig into the books I wanted to read for a long time. Unsurprisingly wine and food themes were the first on my list, but I also added some lifestyle books to learn more about different cultures. Here is the full list of the books:
1. Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France’s Greatest Treasure, by Donald and Petie Kladstrup
2. Veuve Clicquot: The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It, by Tilar J. Mazzeo
3. Harvests of Joy, by Robert Mondavi
4. Street Foods of Turkey, by Hande Bozdogan
5. Black Sea, Dispatches and Recipes Through Darkness and Light, by Caroline Eden
6. Food for Change, by Massimo Bottura
7. Japonisme: The Art of Finding Contentment, by Erin Niimi Longhurst
8. The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well, by Meik Wiking
I’d like to share a couple details and ideas on these books, and hopefully help you if you’re in search of book recommendations.
1. Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France’s Greatest Treasure
Reading this book on paperback as it deserves meant traveling back in time for a good cause. Make no mistake, this trip requires full attention on each page. Chapter by chapter, you’ll find yourself imbibed with historical facts, events and people during the World War II period. Not a book for couch reading, I suggest finding a desk for reading it, taking notes and investigating further the information and the related people on the side.
Amount of information and stories in the book make a deep dive into history. Each story takes place different wine regions of France, such as Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Alsace, and others, under Nazi occupation in World War II.
Along with the historical side of the occupation, you’ll also find the stories of the people who are the founders of the most famous French wine brands we know today. They indeed suffered and struggled during those times, but stayed brave, moved as one, wisely and strategically, and made it possible to bring the wine industry of France where it is today.
2. Veuve Clicquot: The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It
The story of the most admirable Champenoise woman in history. The book tells the biography of Veuve Clicquot, starting from the very beginning of her life. Although it is business centered, it also includes her personal life; how she started to be passionate about Champagne making, how she got married and became a widow. Along with the difficulties brought by becoming a widow, it explains how Veuve Clicquot took a huge risk, made sacrifices from her own life to build this champagne company, which is now one of the strongest brands in the wine world.
This book is a gem for female winemakers, and for all the people in the wine industry seeking inspiration and strength to achieve more. It invites readers to travel back in time to go deeper in the wine-centric history of Champagne. As a Champagne lover, it’ll make you see Champagne from a different perspective – you’ll understand what it takes to bring Champagne in the position it’s today, and all the work and effort being done since centuries.
3. Harvests of Joy
A book that you’d like to read and come back and read again when a couple of years pass. Robert Mondavi doesn’t only tell his story; he takes us inside of his story and his life. He indicates many different angles to tackle and think over and over about the wine industry at first, but also about life and family relations.
In Harvests of Joy, you’ll find all the details about how Robert Mondavi started to grow in the wine business, how he worked hard for his vision of adding Napa Valley as a great wine-producing region on the map, how he put a lot effort to educate local people to add wine in their tables… And he will also give you a lot of good advice about life. This one is to remember by heart:
“If you want to succeed, you have to listen to yourself, to your own heart, and you have to have the courage to go to your own way. If I had listened all the skeptics and naysayers I’ve met along my chosen path, not just that first year but all along the way, you know where I’d be today?
4. Street Foods of Turkey
Find yourself in the streets of Turkey and soak the food culture that spreads to the streets in a unique and traditional way.
You’ll also find four seasons in this book. In Turkey, the food sold in the streets changes according to the season, watermelons in summer, quince in winter, pumpkins in autumn and artichoke in spring. After every fruit and vegetable, the author shared some local recipes with these fruits and veggies.
The most important element bringing together food and the streets: The vendors. Their stories are a huge part of this book. You’ll hear the story of the vendor who carries a big basket of quince in his back and walks around the city: He would find the best produce from all around Turkey, sell them in different seasons.
What this book offers is the three components coming together in a harmonious way: Rich agricultural produces of Turkey, hardworking vendors and the momentum on the streets.
5. Black Sea, Dispatches and Recipes Through Darkness and Light
Black Sea region is a gem with its particular cuisine, music, dance and breathtaking natural beauty.
Caroline Eden travels in four of the countries that have coast to Black Sea; Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine and Turkey, meets different local people along the way and eats in local restaurants. She captures the traditions, historical interactions but also personal stories of local people, along with recipe sharing. As a result it offers more than food, it’s fused nicely with travel narration.
The travel stories blended naturally into food. The recipes are well integrated and made much more sense after learning about their background. This approach takes the recipe writing into a next level and adds a value to the food traditions.
6. Food for Change
The famous Michelin starred Italian chef Massimo Bottura wrote all about ‘Food for Soul’ – a non-profit organization working for reducing food waste through social inclusion.
If you ever watched a cooking show or went to a food exposition you might have thought “What’s happening with the left-over ingredients?” Here, you’ll find an innovative answer to this question: Going one step further than sharing the food as charity, giving a value to left-over ingredients and showing their importance by preparing them with intelligent ideas, and sharing with the community.
7. Japonisme: The Art of Finding Contentment
Erin Niimi Longhurst, the Japanese-British writer was raised by soaking in both of these cultures. This gave her a great ability to appreciate these cultures and communicate with us. She shares about making our life more joyful in Japanese way: nature, thermal waters, decoration, houses, flower composition, calligraphy, tea ceremony and food.
In the food chapters, you can read about different Japanese foods, especially the fermented products, bento boxes, sushi, ramen and more. Moreover, she explained the deeper meaning behind the tea ceremony and the necessary items in detail.
Valuable concepts given in this book can be integrated in our daily life. For example, ikigai is the reason for our being in this life, and a balance between the things we do, including our work and our free time. Stopping for a second and thinking about this balance in our lives can make a difference. Knowing more about Japanese culture and lifestyle brings a new perspective in life.
8. The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well
Great timing for learning about hygge, as it mostly involves enjoying yourself indoors. It gives ideas on how to make the time spent at home more meaningful and joyful.
Hygge itself is a difficult term to give definition, or translation. Some English translations of hygge include cosiness, or hominess. Its key points are light, togetherness, food and drink, clothing and home.
One of the best ideas from this book, also to apply when under self-isolation, is to light a candle, keep warm with a soft blanket on your lap, make yourself a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy a good book. If you have a fireplace, it’d even increase the hygge effect, according to the book.
After reading the Little Book of Hygge under the circumstances we have today, you can better understand the importance of feeling safe, taking a moment, spending it in a meaningful way, and appreciating your wellbeing.
These were the eight wine, food and lifestyle books that I enjoyed this season. I hope you find your next book or some inspiration from this list.
If you’d like to share some thoughts about these books, always feel free to write me.
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