Anonymous Donor Book Giveaway for A Feast of Serendib!

Anonymous Donor Book Giveaway for A Feast of Serendib!
March 2020
People are reaching out with wonderful, creative ways of helping. Two anonymous donors have offered to help make A Feast of Serendib available to people who want the book but can’t afford to buy it right now. Together these generous folks have donated a total of $1,000 in books for this purpose!
To make the donations go as far as possible, and because we want everyone to be able to access the book in the format that is best for them, we’ve dropped the price too, so we can offer a combination of 15 hardcovers and 30 paperbacks; Serendib Press will match the physical book donations with 50 additional eBook copies as well.
From one of the anonymous donors: “I’m doing this because I have found Mary Anne’s cookbook to be so key in helping me feed myself good food this year and I want other people to be able to care for themselves in the same way.”
We’re going to do this on a first come, first serve basis, for people who want the book but can’t afford to buy it right now, on the honor system. Physical books can only be shipped within the U.S., but eBooks are available internationally!
If you’d like a copy of the book, please comment on the post at the link below and let us know if you’d prefer hardcover, paperback, or eBook. We’ll contact you within a day or two to get your mailing information.
(The paperback doesn’t have photos in the book, but comes with a link to a full web archive of color photos. The eBook reviews indicate that people are finding it works really well for them as an option for a tablet, esp. on a stand in the kitchen.)
_________________________________________
$500 x 2 = $1,000
15 Hardcovers = $450 — 13 left
Discounted to $30 each
30 Paperback = $450 — 27 left
Discounted to $15 each
50 eBooks
Mary Anne’s matching contribution
_________________________________________
MORE COOKBOOK DETAILS:
Feast is now an Amazon bestseller! Woot!
1) ORDERING: You can order A Feast of Serendib (signed / personalized, if you like) directly from me right now, at www.serendibkitchen.com, or from my publisher, Mascot Books: https://mascotbooks.com/mascot-marketplace/buy-books/cookbooks/regional/a-feast-of-serendib/. The limited release paperback can only be ordered directly from my website. If you’re in the U.S., you can also add on my hand-roasted Sri Lankan curry powder.
A Feast of Serendib launched officially March 6, 2020, and we hope it’ll be widely available in bookstores and libraries. You can request it from your local bookstore or library! Please do! It’ll also be available on Amazon US, UK, and Canada; you can order it online.
ORDERING INFO:
978-1-64543-275-3 Hardcover (distributed by Ingram)
978-1-64543-377-4 ebook (on Amazon, etc.)
2370000696366 (trade paperback; only available directly from me, at Serendib Kitchen site; you can also buy the hardcover or ebook there)
2) REVIEW OR BUY IT HERE (reviews are hugely helpful in boosting visibility!):
Amazon
3) JOIN THE COOKBOOK CLUB: If you’d like to support the development of more mostly Sri Lankan recipes, I’d love to have you join the cookbook club — for $2 / month, you’ll get recipes delivered to your inbox (fairly) regularly: https://www.patreon.com/mohanraj. For $10 / month, you can subscribe for fabulous treats mailed to you! (US-only).
4) FOODIE SOCIAL MEDIA:

My personal FB page:

https://www.facebook.com/mary.a.mohanraj
Serendib Kitchen blog: http://serendibkitchen.com

Serendib FB Group:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/132029834135500/

Serendib FB Page:

https://www.facebook.com/mohanrajserendib/
5) PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY starred review: “Mohanraj (Bodies in Motion), a literature professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago, introduces readers to the comforting cuisine of Sri Lanka in this illuminating collection of more than 100 recipes. Waves of immigration from China, England, the Netherlands, and Portugal influenced the unique cuisine of Sri Lanka, Mohanraj writes, as evidenced by such dishes as Chinese rolls (a take on classic egg rolls in the form of stuffed crepes that are breaded and fried); fish cutlets (a culinary cousin of Dutch bitterballen fried croquettes); and English tea sandwiches (filled here with beets, spinach, and carrots). With Sri Lanka’s proximity to India, curry figures heavily, with options for chicken, lamb, cuttlefish, or mackerel. A number of poriyal dishes, consisting of sautéed vegetables with a featured ingredient, such as asparagus or brussels sprouts, showcase a Tamil influence. Throughout, Mohanraj does a superb job of combining easily sourced ingredients with clear, instructive guidance and menu recommendations for all manner of events, including a Royal Feast for over 200 people. This is a terrific survey of an overlooked cuisine.”
*****
Thanks so much for your support! Indie publishing is absolutely reliant on word of mouth and the support of friends, family, and friendly internet acquaintances.
— Mary Anne

Spring flash sale! Serendib Spring Surprise Boxes (US-only)

ALLITERATIVE FLASH SALE! Serendib Spring Surprise Boxes (US-only for this one, sorry!):
a) Small: a random assortment of sweets, postcards, and a handmade soap, plus an ebook of Feast (if you have one already, feel free to gift this) – $19.99 + $8 shipping and handling
b) Medium: same as small, plus bath salts, a paperback of Feast & a 4 oz. bag of curry powder – $34.99 + $15 shipping and handling
c) Large: same as medium, plus body butter, a hardcover of Feast and an 8 oz. jar of curry powder – $54.99 + $20 shipping and handling
Comment on the *main post* to order; I’ll confirm in comments and give you info on payment options. I think I can do about 15-20 boxes, based on the supplies I have on hand; it’s a little hard to estimate, since I don’t know what size boxes people will go for.


*****
Go HERE to order:
https://www.facebook.com/mary.a.mohanraj/posts/10160683118589616
*****
We’re hoping to get the Shopify set up in the next few weeks, which will make it easier to ship internationally, etc. So if that’s you, hang in there — though I’ll have to do more research on what’s involved on shipping food internationally before I can offer that, so that bit might be quite a while.

Patreon boxes going out

Had a weird morning — I woke up at 7, per usual, went back to sleep, and didn’t wake up again ’til 11. I had tried taking a sleep aid last night, doxylamine succinate, so I’m guessing it was a combo of that + being really underslept the last few days, mostly due to free-floating stress. I feel more rested, which is good, but also a little groggy.
But I did get the Patreon subscription boxes finished and out the door, so that was good — I totally would not have been on top of it, but Stephanie has been keeping my little indie business on track. So helpful! Hopefully they’ll bring subscribers a little joy. I’m starting to think about what to put in the June subscription box — I think I shouldn’t ship chocolate that late in the year, so maybe shortbread and other cookies, plus some passionfruit caramels? My violas and pansies are blooming — I should pick and candy some of those. Hmm….


We were also shipping out 5 hardcovers of Feast from the latest GoodReads giveaway — hopefully they lead to a lot of happy cooking. If you do cook from Feast, I’d love to see photos! Tag me in, please. I think we could all use some happy cooking photos right now.
And of course, reviews are always welcome at GoodReads, Amazon, etc. I just checked and Feast currently has 12 (!) 5-star reviews. You guys. I am verklempt. Various people have asked me recently how the cookbook release is going, and honestly, I’ve barely had time to even think about it this last week — it seems like such a low priority, in the face of coronavirus. And yet — we have to eat.


I also realized this morning that I have enough sweets and soaps left that I should probably do a flash sale and get those out the door. I had made quite a few sweets for cookbook launch events this month that I’ve now cancelled. So see the next post for details on that!


#serendibkitchen

Creating a structured task list

URGENT: Brainstorming help, please. My primary goal for this morning is to create a structured task list for what people can work on effectively from home, that will support one of these three urgent-need categories:
a) communication around social distancing
b) economic support for social distancing practices
c) support for healthcare workers
I’d love your thoughts, and I’ll keep adding ones that make sense to me back into this list over the course of the day, so we can build out something coherent. Help?
*****
PART A: Communication Around Social Distancing
Problem: Too many people still haven’t seen or understood the full story, the scope of what’s going on, both the immediate need, and the likely long-term 12-18 month situation. There’s still masses of misinformation going around — the idea that “kids can’t catch it,” for example, when in fact, kids are almost certainly massive vectors for infection.
– break it down into demographic groups — what media do these groups consume? How do we get the message out on SnapChat? (20-30-somethings?) (Faculty, can you brainstorm this with your students?) What about Next Door? (older folks?)
– can we build a library of particularly effective informational resources that are already out there? Articles, yes, but also videos and infographics and memes and even humor? (I’d love to have a team of volunteers working on just that piece of it, gathering and sorting information. Librarians? We need you.)
– can we reach out to celebrities to spread the word faster and more effectively? can we get a list of influencers in our genres / fields who are willing to be propagates of critical information? (i.e., I contact John Scalzi and N.K. Jemisin and ask them if they’d be willing to commit to reposting important pieces, and we then put them on the list, and send them a few pieces / day)
– essentially, we need a social media campaign for coronavirus info; are there communications professionals who can step up and volunteer their services? can we wrangle an actual ad agency into setting aside their other projects for a week and working on this?
***
PART B: Economic Support for Social Distancing Practices
Problem: Too much of America is too poor (and I include most of the supposed ‘middle class’ here) to be able to afford long-term social distancing with jobs at risk, massive unexpected childcare expenses; it is going to take government releasing funding to make the costs feasible without driving families into poverty (which eventually also leads to deaths).
Essential workers in particular need safe and affordable (preferably free) childcare for their kids, so that they’re not sending their kids into contaminated makeshift childcare environments (with elderly parents, for example) and contributing to disease spread.
– who is working on effective lobbying efforts? where should we concentrate our political efforts at the national level?
– who qualifies as essential? Healthcare, obv. Vermont and another Minnesota just classified grocery store workers as essential.
– what can be done at the local level through governmental efforts? Can village and other taxing body reserve funds be tapped to provide essential childcare immediately, to be hopefully replenished by federal funds down the road? (I don’t know how you’d set up a mechanism for this, but for just one example, our library has a few million dollar in the reserve fund, and having it sitting in the bank right now does not make sense to me. Reserves are meant to support in a rainy day — this is the rainy day.)
– what can be done through non-governmental efforts? People are certainly setting up ad hoc networks of childcare, but without organization, many of those may end up contributing to disease spread through the kids going back and forth. Can we create ‘pods’ of co-isolating groups, at least? Can we set up mutual aid spreadsheets, utilizing Google Forms, and give people guidance on how to provide community childcare effectively?
– compile a neighborhood contact list, and make sure every house on your block is on it. Leave the existing list with neighbors who aren’t on it.
***
Part C: Support for Healthcare Workers
(Ania Kolak notes that she’s willing to help with this section overall)
– free coaching sessions for healthcare workers and first responders (Ania Kolak notes that she’s doing this through a few national/international orgs but would really love to do it locally; also it would make sense to mobilize some other local coaches who would be interested in helping)
***
– okay, need to take a breath, break from brainstorming for a minute, will come back to edit this more. But feel free to start adding thoughts in the comments.
I’m mostly looking to fill out this set of needs and plans right now, but if anyone wants to take ‘ownership’ of developing or even working on a particular piece of this, please let me know that too.
I think this is my job here. It’s taken me a little time to realize that, but if there’s one thing I’m good at it, it’s seeing a problem, assessing the structure of what the solution should be, and gathering people to fix it. Let’s do this.

Ways to help, if you have capacity

It isn’t reasonable to expect people to become convinced and internalize that we’re entered a serious crisis situation in just a few days. I know that.
Even if they do get to that point, many of us are overwhelmed with work and care responsibilities, mental health concerns, fear for ourselves and our loved ones. There’s a lot of moving parts and shifting information, with all the authorities seemingly caught just as flat-footed as the rest of us, scrambling, and our capitalist society is breathing economic panic at us, the wolf always at our door. I get that.
And of course, the data projections are terrifying, even for me, and I am normally the most chill of humans. If we do nothing, we’re looking at more than a million deaths in just the U.S. A million. The problem is so big, so scary, and honestly, the scale of it feels so out of the blue still, despite the fact that China has been fighting this for months. Many folks are going to have a very hard time even READING about the truth of it; they’ll want to look away. That is only human.
I would love to give people time to process, give our society time to adapt.
And yet the ticking clock means that we can’t actually do that. In the last week I’ve become convinced (and I WISH I’d realized it much faster, I’m so angry at myself for how long it took me to understand the truth of what I was reading), that this is an all hands on deck situation. Right now.
In the next 7-10 days, those of us Americans who aren’t in healthcare have to do EVERYTHING we can to support those who are working the problem directly. If that means our kids watch screens for a few weeks, if it means our students get essentially placeholder e-mails for a few weeks (keep up with the reading, we’ll be back soon with a revised course plan, assuming we actually manage to finish out the semester), that is OKAY.
We’re trying to drag a projected million-plus deaths this year in America down to a few thousand. We might even be able to do it, if we have the commitment, the political and personal will.
We need to reset our priorities immediately, collectively. We have to start thinking seriously about what is nonessential and can be put to the side for a few weeks. There’ll be time to catch up on the kids’ homework soon. Right now, there is so much work to do, that has to be done FAST. Work, work, work — rest enough to keep your strength and spirits up, because you can’t help if you collapse, read something funny, laugh for a moment — then work some more.
And I know some of you are reading this and maybe getting pretty angry at me, because you have DONE everything you’ve been asked to do and more, you would LOVE to be able to help, and you’re incredibly frustrated that you can’t figure out how to help. I was arguing with my husband about this, just barely not yelling at him, and that’s pretty much what he just barely managed not to yell at me in response. I get that.
Here’s the thing. I spread the word a little. I did some community work. But only with a little bit of my attention, my focus.
I think I kept waiting for a higher-up, a community leader, a medical person, to step forward and say, “Okay, here’s the plan, here’s the task we need you to do.” But they’re all scrambling too. And of course, they ARE working the problem — a lot of people are working really hard.
But some of them, a lot of them, are working the WRONG problem. They’re focused on their own domain, trusting that someone else is handling the larger picture. And that’s just not enough right now. We all need to think and look wider. If you were in government, if you were in charge, what would you want to see happening?
It makes me want to weep, seeing how many faculty have earnestly spent the last two weeks trying to become experts in engaging online education, so they can help their students achieve the course objectives set in calculus and composition pedagogy two months ago. And that’s totally understandable, but it’s wrong. It’s just wrong.
Professors, take those skills and shift them outward, away from just your classes. You and I, we need to be public intellectuals right now.
And everyone, whatever your education and work background, if you have the skills — community-building skills, tech skills, organizational skills, communication skills, if you are the voice in your community that people listen to — the world needs you. It needs you right now.
Look around. Find the people near you who are working the social distancing & healthcare ramp-up problems hard, working them well — there ARE a lot of them, and many of them have been running flat out for weeks, so busy and anxious and exhausted that they don’t even have the capacity to reach out and say, “Help.”
Ask them what they need, ask them how you can help. I’m afraid if no one near you (online or off) is doing anything really useful to combat the wildfire spread of coronavirus, then maybe you’re going to have to be the one to organize something, to rally the troops. (If you’re in a state that hasn’t closed the schools yet, you know what your next task to work on is. Indiana just closed their schools. Another step. More lives saved. Onwards.)
What else? Form a mutual aid group. Figure out which legislators to lobby for disaster relief funds so people can afford to stay home from their jobs without starving. Find out what the hospitals and healthcare workers need most urgently, that you can help supply. (Childcare funds and an organization that will provide safe childcare while maintaining social distancing? Is that something you can work on?)
MOST OF ALL, do whatever you can to support social distancing this week. From now (3/19) until the end of March. Spread the word effectively, emphatically, compassionately. Build a social media campaign. Design memes and write stories (short ones). Record tik-toks. If you know people with broader social reach than you (if you know celebrities!), rope them in. If you know people with money, businesses in a position to donate funds, talk to them too.
Help make social distancing economically and practically and legally feasible for as many people as possible.
There are going to be many societal problems to work in coming months, as we see a seismic shift in how we live our lives, but THIS is the urgent one for the next 7-10 days.
(And then rest a little, and work it some more, because we’re going to explain this to people and do it over and over again, probably for 12-18 months. If that surprises you, please read the article linked at the end.)
I’m going to try to put together a more concrete task list and post it by tomorrow morning. It will fall broadly into three categories:
– communication around social distancing
– economic support for social distancing practices
– support for healthcare workers
As far as I can see, those are the three failure points that need serious and sustained reinforcement. I’ll link to the task list here once I have it ready.
But right now, please. If you have capacity without endangering your health (physical or mental) — look around. See who’s supporting social distancing and healthcare effectively. Help them.
Update 3/20: I’ve started my brainstorming structure list here; I’d appreciate your thoughts: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10160666035969616&set=a.10150140183694616&type=3
(for visibility, folks — PLEASE like / comment / share)

Goodreads giveaway ends today! Win a hardcover copy of Feast!

Two quick but urgent cookbook notes:

1) our current GoodReads giveaway ends today! If you’re in America / Canada, you could win one of 5 hardcover copies — enter for free here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51332647-a-feast-of-serendib (please spread the word, if you’re so inclined!)

2) my publisher, Mascot Books, just sent me a note saying that Amazon is prioritizing medical and other important household needs and deprioritzing stocking / shipping everything else. Which I fully support, for the record, though it will be hard for many micro businesses; we need those essentials to move out quickly, especially for those in marginalized and underprivileged communities.

– You’re still more than welcome to buy through Amazon (which also helps keep my Amazon numbers up and therefore makes the book more visible on Amazon and more likely to be picked up by casual browsing shoppers (and of course, there’s no delay in ebooks!)

– But if you’d like it sooner (maybe because you’re stuck at home and thinking now is a good time to get more into cooking?), you can order directly from the Mascot Books site, or from my Serendib Kitchen site, and we’ll likely ship it out to you faster.

– If you order from me, you also have the option of getting it signed / personalized, and if you’re in the U.S., you can add on some hand-roasted small batch Sri Lankan curry powder.

More book details in comments!

QUARANTINE BOOK CLUB — you’re invited! Mostly food & SF/F.

QUARANTINE BOOK CLUB — you’re invited! Mostly food & SF/F.

a) I’ll post my schedule of books to discuss in the next month

b) I start a thread once a day on each book, so people can participate asynchronously

c) I open a Zoom chat in the evening, around 8 CST, for people who want to discuss it synchronously

Just join for the ones that interest you — I’m not expecting anyone else to read a book / day! (I have a lot of reading to catch up on, and now is a good time.)

*****

Wednesday 3/18: BEST AMERICAN FOOD WRITING 2019, Samin Nosrat, first 5 essays. (Anderson, Arax, Aribisala, Bilger, Binelli).

“Good food writing evokes the senses,” writes Samin Nosrat, best-selling author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat and star of the Netflix adaptation of the book. “It makes us consider divergent viewpoints. It makes us hungry and motivates us to go out into the world in search of new experiences. It charms and angers us, breaks our hearts, and gives us hope. And perhaps most importantly, it creates empathy within us.” Whether it’s the dizzying array of Kit Kats in Japan, a reclamation of the queer history of tapas, or a spotlight on a day in the life of a restaurant inspector, the work in The Best American Food Writing 2019 will inspire you to pick up a knife and start chopping, but also to think critically about what you’re eating and how it came to your plate, while still leaving you clamoring for seconds.

https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/43260498

*

Thursday, 3/19: THRILL ME, Benjamin Percy. (Essays, so you don’t have to read the whole book to participate.)

“After writing two short-story collections and a literary novel, he delivered the werewolf thriller Red Moon and the postapocalyptic epic The Dead Lands. Now, in his first book of nonfiction, Percy challenges the notion that literary and genre fiction are somehow mutually exclusive. The title essay is an ode to the kinds of books that make many readers fall in love with fiction: science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, horror, from J.R.R. Tolkien to Anne Rice, Ursula K. Le Guin to Stephen King. Percy’s own academic experience banished many of these writers in the name of what is “literary” and what is “genre.” Then he discovered Michael Chabon, Aimee Bender, Cormac McCarthy, Margaret Atwood, and others who employ techniques of genre fiction while remaining literary writers. In fifteen essays on the craft of fiction, Percy looks to disparate sources such as Jaws, Blood Meridian, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to discover how contemporary writers engage issues of plot, suspense, momentum, and the speculative, as well as character, setting, and dialogue.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28015101-thrill-me

*

Friday 3/20: FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS, Nalo Hopkinson. (Short stories, so you don’t have to read the whole book to participate.)

“In this long-awaited collection, Hopkinson continues to expand the boundaries of culture and imagination. Whether she is retelling The Tempest as a new Caribbean myth, filling a shopping mall with unfulfilled ghosts, or herding chickens that occasionally breathe fire, Hopkinson continues to create bold fiction that transcends boundaries and borders.”

https://www.goodreads.com/…/23846151-falling-in-love-with-h…

*

Sunday, 3/22: TENDER AT THE BONE, Ruth Reichl (food memoir in brief essays; content note: manic-depressive parent)

“Beginning with her mother, the notorious food-poisoner known as the Queen of Mold, Reichl introduces us to the fascinating characters who shaped her world and tastes, from the gourmand Monsieur du Croix, who served Reichl her first foie gras, to those at her politically correct table in Berkeley who championed the organic food revolution in the 1970s.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53645.Tender_at_the_Bone

*

Monday, 3/23: WILL DO MAGIC FOR SMALL CHANGE, Andrea Hairston

“Cinnamon Jones dreams of stepping on stage and acting her heart out like her famous grandparents, Redwood and Wildfire. But at 5’10” and 180 pounds, shes theatrically challenged. Her family life is a tangle of mystery and deadly secrets, and nobody is telling Cinnamon the whole truth. Before her older brother died, he gave Cinnamon The Chronicles of the Great Wanderer, a tale of a Dahomean warrior woman and an alien from another dimension who perform in Paris and at the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair.”

(I loved the linked novel, Redwood and Wildfire, so really looking forward to this. A treat!)

https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/29958698

*

Tuesday, 3/24: HOME COOKING: A WRITER IN THE KITCHEN, Laurie Colwin

Weaving together memories, recipes, and wild tales of years spent in the kitchen, Home Cooking is Laurie Colwin’s manifesto on the joys of sharing food and entertaining. From the humble hotplate of her one-room apartment to the crowded kitchens of bustling parties, Colwin regales us with tales of meals gone both magnificently well and disastrously wrong. Hilarious, personal, and full of Colwin’s hard-won expertise, Home Cooking will speak to the heart of any amateur cook, professional chef, or food lover.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/164397.Home_Cooking

*

Wednesday 3/25: BEST AMERICAN FOOD WRITING 2019, Samin Nosrat, second 5 essays. (Carmen, Chadburn, Dyroff, Fielding-Singh, Frazier).

*

Thursday 3/26: THE BLACK GOD’S DRUMS, P. Djélí Clark (a novella, so short!)

“In an alternate New Orleans caught in the tangle of the American Civil War, the wall-scaling girl named Creeper yearns to escape the streets for the air–in particular, by earning a spot on-board the airship Midnight Robber. Creeper plans to earn Captain Ann-Marie’s trust with information she discovers about a Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.”

https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/38118138

*

Friday 3/27: HOW TO COOK A WOLF, MFK Fisher

“Written to inspire courage in those daunted by wartime shortages, How to Cook a Wolf continues to rally cooks during times of plenty, reminding them that providing sustenance requires more than putting food on the table. M.F.K. Fisher knew that the last thing hungry people needed were hints on cutting back and making do. Instead, she gives her readers license to dream, to experiment, to construct adventurous and delicious meals as a bulwark against a dreary, meager present.”

https://www.goodreads.com/bo…/show/250693.How_to_Cook_a_Wolf

*

Saturday 3/28: THE LESSON, Cadwell Turnbull

“An alien ship rests over Water Island. For five years the people of the US Virgin Islands have lived with the Ynaa, a race of superadvanced aliens on a research mission they will not fully disclose. They are benevolent in many ways but meet any act of aggression with disproportional wrath. This has led to a strained relationship between the Ynaa and the local Virgin Islanders and a peace that cannot last.”

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2019 in Science Fiction
A Library Journal Best Book of 2019 in Science Fiction & Fantasy
A Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year in Science Fiction and Fantasy (2019)

https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/41459037

*

Sunday, 3/29: A COOK’S TOUR: GLOBAL ADVENTURES IN EXTREME CUISINES, Anthony Bourdain (food memoir / travelogue essays — somewhat accompanies his TV series, No Reservations).

“Searching for the “perfect meal,” Bourdain writes with humor and intelligence, describing meals of boudin noir and Vietnamese hot vin lon (“essentially a soft-boiled duck embryo”) and ‘fessing up to a few nights of over-indulgence (“I felt like I’d awakened under a collapsed building,” he writes of a night in San Sebastian hopping from tapas bar to tapas bar)…He also reminds his audience of the connections between food and land and human toil, which, in these sterilized days of pre-wrapped sausages, is all too easy to forget.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/86856.A_Cook_s_Tour

*

Monday, March 30: MAGICAL WOMEN, edited by Sukanya Venkatraghavan.

Indian women writing fantasy: “A weaver is initiated into the ancient art of bringing a universe into existence. Four goddesses engage in a cosmic brawl. A teenage shape-shifter learns to understand and control her unchannelled powers. A graphic designer duels with a dark secret involving a mysterious tattoo. A rebellious chudail makes a shocking announcement at a kitty party. A puppet seeking adventure discovers who she really is. A demon-hunter encounters an unlikely opponent. A young womans resolute choice leads her to haunt Death across millennia…”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44424290-magical-women

*

Tuesday March 31: LITTLE AMERICA: INCREDIBLE TRUE STORIES OF IMMIGRANTS IN AMERICA, intro by Kumail Nanjiani. (Featuring me, among others — a set of short memoir-istic stories (easy reads!) from a host of immigrants. Eight of these stories were featured in the Apple TV+ Little America series as 30 minute episodes; more are currently scheduled for next fall. Book launches 3/17.)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49440243-little-america

***END OF THE MONTH***

Wednesday 4/1: Wednesday 4/1: BEST AMERICAN FOOD WRITING 2019, Samin Nosrat, first 5 essays. (Goldfield, Hill, Ho, Krishna, Lee).

*

Friday, 4/3: THE LUCKY ONE, Lori Rader-Day (murder mystery).

*

Tuesday, 4/7: A YEAR IN PROVENCE, Peter Mayle

*

Saturday 4/25: A GAME OF FOX AND SQUIRRELS, Jenn Reese (middle-grade fantasy) — launches 4/14, so pre-order now! It’ll be a quick read. 

*

#communityinatimeofpandemic

Keeping home, and keeping house

I told Kevin last night, around 12:30 a.m., when were both still scrolling through news updates in bed (yes, terrible sleep hygiene, and Anand almost missed the bus this morning as a result, we have to stop doing that) that I was going to do ALL the backlogged home projects now, and the house was going to be SO CLEAN.

He said maybe not so clean if the kids were home too and we were spending some time homeschooling. I told him that their first lessons would be in keeping a house clean…

(Now that we’re both going to be teaching remotely, we’re seriously thinking about just keeping them home, even if the schools aren’t closed. Yet. If the parents who can easily do that do it, it will help, I think.)

#teachinginatimeofpandemic

Simple Things You Can Do in a Time of Pandemic

(I’m going to repost this periodically, I think, and update it as I think of things.)

*****

Simple Things You Can Do in a Time of Pandemic
(a list for those feeling ineffectual, a work-in-progress)

1. WASH YOUR HANDS. Wash them frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Teach your children and other household members to do the same. Model it for others in public places, helping to make it a social norm. However this goes, that can only be helpful.

2. GO OUTSIDE. Go out into the fresh air if you can. Staying cooped up in your home can be a recipe for stress and breathing stale air doesn’t help. If you can’t go out, try opening a window or turning on a fan (which can disperse water droplets, lowering their concentration of virus). If you can go outside, and if you can garden, now is an excellent time; it’s good for your health in all sorts of ways, and your mental state too.

3. ISOLATE. Practice social distancing as possible. (I cancelled all my optional meetings, and am switching over as much as I can to Zoom.) Even if you’re not likely to get very sick, you can easily carry the disease to others.

4. RESTRUCTURE SOCIALIZING. Think about how isolation may be affecting you; if it’s making your mental state worse, consider options for socializing. Long phone calls with a friend? Asynchronous video game in between your work tasks? (I love Terraforming Mars for that.) Set up a computer screen with Zoom for you and a few friends or workmates or relatives, and just leave it running in the background as you go about the day, so you can chat on occasion as desired, ask a question, etc? Humans are pack animals, for the most part. Left alone, many of us tend to fret.

5. LAY IN REASONABLE STAPLES. If you can afford it, add a few staples to your groceries, aiming for two weeks’ worth of supplies on hand (if you have the space). Don’t hoard; others may need it far more urgently. Especially don’t hoard masks; medical personnel need them. If you’re not already doing grocery delivery, and it’s available to you, try it — one person doing food shopping for seven families and dropping groceries on porches is much less likely to spread contagion than those seven (or seventy) people going to the grocery store.

6. STAY INFORMED, BUT NOT TOO MUCH. Stay informed, but if social media is starting to stress you out, walk away. Turn off Facebook for a while, close the computer. The flood of information can be compelling, but it can also cause a lot of anxiety, and remember, as in any crisis, that a good percentage of early info will be wrong. Unless you have a responsibility to stay on the cutting edge of the info, you may be better served by waiting a day or two, letting others verify and process it, and then summarize the parts you actually need to know.

7. RECONSIDER TRAVEL. Think about whether you really need to take that upcoming trip, whether it’d be worse to be quarantined in that area, and be prepared to cancel travel at need. (For me, I have to go through a bit of a mental process of frustration, grief, and acceptance before I’m ready to do that, so might as well start early.)

8. CHECK IN. Elderly relatives, neighbors, co-workers, siblings, old friends — there are a lot of people feeling a lot of stress right now, and many may be feeling very isolated and even frightened. If you can check in with them — by phone, in person, online, whatever works — it can help. (It might help you feel better too.)

9. EAT HEALTHY. In stressful times, many of us turn to comfort food, but some of those options will just make you and your body feel worse if you do too much of it. (Did I binge salt-and-vinegar chips and ice cream last night? Yes I did.) To the extent that finances and time allow, try to eat as healthily as you can during a crisis (and feed others the same way). It may also help you feel a little more in control, since you’ll be proactively doing something to help the situation.

*****

#teachinginatimeofpandemic

Gotta hang in there, and you’ll get through

Hellebore.

*****

Snowdrops.

*****

Crocus tommasinianus, and again with heuchera.

*****

This photo makes me laugh. It’s like the snowdrop is the first one out, and he’s talking to the crocuses. “All right, you young whippersnappers. This is early spring, and early spring is no joke, you know? We may get some snow. We might even get another freeze. But you just gotta be tough, gotta hang in there, and we’ll get through…”