Between meals: Some good reads

I’m entranced by a fascinating book called “Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War,” by Anna Ciezadlo. I can’t recall anything like it, and can’t recommend it enough. Ciezadlo is a reporter, married to a Lebanese reporter, and she covered the wars in the Middle East, in Bagdhad and Beirut, for several newspapers and magazines. Her story
here is of daily civilian life in places where the streets of ordinary neighborhoods are combat zones, stories on a small scale that dramatize larger issues.

She writes of things like grocery shopping on streets transformed by the constant threat of snipers, of trying to cook family meals when the electricity is intermittent; of children (and their parents) trapped at home because schools are shut down by artillery fire; of the suffering of women, who have to stand by and be supportive in the midst of the madness of war and political conflict. In all this, the term “comfort food “ takes on a new meaning. As she says, “you will never forget how food tastes” in this terrible context. It’s eloquent, and moving, and an important story.

Much less serious is “Man with a Pan,” an anthology of writing about “culinary adventures of fathers who cook for their families,” which of course includes recipes and advice. Contributors include Stephen King, Mark Bittman, Mario Batali, Peter Kaminsky, and Jim Harrison, among others. It’s frequently very funny (there are even cartoons from The New Yorker, where editor John Donohue can be found when he’s not at the family stove). It’s frequently laugh-out-loud funny, and the recipes look pretty good, too.

Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War,” by Anna Ciezadlo, Free Press/Simon & Schuster, new York, $26.
Man With a Pan, edited by John Donohue, Algonquin Books, New York, $15.95

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