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Use this website from your mobile device when you want to find a book or check your account in our online catalog.

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Using your library on the go has never been easier.

Heart Of Emptiness

"I'm too old and weary to be out in the streets at night," I tweeted an hour before my work ends at 10'o clock.

At the back of my head, I was worried that I'd be mugged when I step foot in Cubao or get robbed inside a Malaguena jeep. A co-worker's grandmum passed away and knowing that only few at work would ever find time to attend the wake, I decided to go solo after my shift.

The trip was uneventful. Instead of passing through Cubao, I took the much longer Pasig route with a colleague who is about to give birth next month. After parting ways with her in Rosario, I hailed a jeep going to Marikina. Another short ride from the city square and I arrived at the gates of Loyola at half past Eleven.  

What I knew was that the chapel is located outside the memorial. It turned the other way around, the chapel was at the bosom of the cemetery. To get there, one must cross the eerie expanse while suppressing his instincts to flee. Sure it was dark and brooding, but of all the things I wouldn't like to happen is that my mind plays tricks on me.

After all, no one in his right mind would go on a stroll inside a campo santo at night.

I could have left in an instant. But I have journeyed this far and a retreat is not an option. Mustering all my strength, I plugged my ear buds and played trance music on my Ipod. I didn't let my eyes wander as I tread  the main road and instead, locked my gaze at the floodlights waiting at the end.  

"But I'm scared of the dark?"  A voice inside me mumbled.

"Who isn't. But this is who we are. We stick to our guns even when there's a choice to flee." Another voice replied.

"But you're a chicken shit. Who cares if you don't attend the wake. As if the colleague would get offended by your no-show.  He didn't even know you'll come."

"We're already here, we chose to be here - at this hour because - the mind said so."

"And if our colleague is not there."

"Then we will wait. Our presence, even if unseen, justifies all this walking."

"We're near."

"Wait, let me get my camera. If something shows up in the picture, then let's keep it as a remembrance."

"For what,"

"So we would always remember where our balls are."

Loyola Memorial Park
11:30 pm

And I was able to walk the entire length of the cemetery without flinching or screaming in a falsetto voice and in doing so, learned that I am still a happy camper even when alone. 

Recap of Adult Summer Reading Party

We had our end-of-summer party last Wednesday, August 24 for the Novel Destinations adult reading program. The party is sponsored every year by the Friends of the South Brunswick Public Library and we thank them for providing for a delicious lunch of sandwiches and salads from Pierre’s and for the grand prize for the drawing. Over lunch, those that attended discussed the books that they read over the summer and ones that they were looking forward to reading this fall. The Help and the movie tie-in were the most well-liked of the summer. There were travel brochures that had been brought by Kuller Class A Travel for our travelogue programs this summer laid out in the tables for decoration and for conversation. The patron’s travel plans were also a popular topic of discussion.

At about 2:00, everyone moved to the other side of the Meeting Room where the International Food Tasting was set-up. There were place mats at every seat that had a spot for five samples to be placed. The five black licorice samples were out at each place, ready to be sampled. A description of the history and uses for licorice were given and the five samples from Australia (sweet), Finland (sweet), Holland (salty), America (sweet) and Italy (bitter) were tasted. The Finish licorice made by Panda and sold in specialty shops like Bon Apetit and Delicious Orchards was thought by the majority to be the favorite with it’s subtle flavor and soft texture. There were ice water and apple slices served to clean the palate between bites. The next item to taste was milk chocolate. There are so many choices in chocolate from around the world that it was difficult to narrow the samples down to just five choices. There was Elite from Israel, Cadbury Dairy Milk from England (now made by Hershey), an America Hershey bar, Italian Venchi Puro Cioccolato al Latte Superiore and a Nestle bar which is Swiss chocolate. The consensus was that the Elite chocolate from Israel was the favorite with a smooth, creamy texture. Also, the Hershey bar was preferred over the Nestle bar.

The third samples were Swiss-style cheeses. The Swiss make a cheese they call Emmentaler that is the official “Swiss Cheese” and can only be made outside of Switzerland by agreement of the Emmentaler cheese producers in Switzerland. That was the first sample tried – the Swiss Emmentaler. The other Swiss-style cheeses made in other countries were Jarlsberg, made in Norway; Tilsit made in Germany; Danish Fontina and a harder cheese, Reblevega, made in Spain. Jalsberg was the favorite.

The final food sampled were crackers, a logical segue after the cheese. There were two kinds of crackers included, water crackers which are made of just flour and water and soda or saltine crackers that have shortening, leavening and baking soda. Our familiar crackers today are descendants of the pilot cakes, sea biscuits and military hardtack from the Civil War when flour and water were mixed and baked to form a nutritious and ready to eat food that is advantageous for travel because of its long shelf life. The selections for the tasting were Osem Deli crackers from Israel, Dare Vinta crackers from Canada that had a poppy seed flavoring, Nabisco Premium Saltines from the U.S., Carr’s Table Water Crackers from the UK and Yarra Valley Crackerthins water crackers from Australia. This was perhaps not a fair comparison in that the Canadian and Australian crackers had other flavorings added so naturally they were the favorite and second favorite of the five.

A tally of the books read over the summer was discussed – the most prolific reader submitted sixteen entry forms all with reviews. Of the patron’s that attended the party, the reader with the most entries had submitted 15 entry forms, also with reviews. You can read the reviews that the readers submitted on the summer reading blog that you can find at from the link on our webpage at The event ended with a drawing for the runner up prize (a pick from the prize card) and the grand prize (a Barnes and Noble gift card) won by two patrons who submitted entry forms throughout the summer.

Thanks to all who participated in the summer reading program this year. Don’t forget you can still submit your vacation photos for the mural to through the month of September and the drawing for a Shutterfly gift card from those who submitted photos will be done early in October. The tentative theme for the 2012 summer reading program is about nighttime and the adult readers’ theme is “Between the Covers!” Look for information early 2012 and if you have any suggestions that might pertain to this theme, contact the programming person at

Vanity Faire Two

Last April, a friend of mine stayed over at my place while waiting for his date to pick him up. This tropa used to think less of appearance (he was already commanding the market) and more of career opportunities. But because he found a job that pays well, things have started to change.

The boy suddenly paid more attention to vanity.

As my barkada prepared for his date's arrival, I took a peek at the contents of his bag. He then laid it on my bed. What I saw changed my impression of him forever.

Adidas Body Spray, Bench Hair Fix, Cetaphil Facial Wash, and an expensive perfume I can't recall. These men's beauty products overwhelmed me.

Where's the koboy bestfriend I once knew.

Two months after his revelation, I began to have my own line-up, which is slightly fewer that what average "metrosexuals" would include in their accessories. The places I once avoided - Watson and PX, are now my sanctuaries. The clothes I once ignored - the fitted ones - are the ones that now fill my closet. And the cheap sunglasses I used to claim as my only "luho" will have a replacement in the future.

I'm thinking along the lines of Oakley and D&G.

Vanity Faire One
Fullmetal Dreams
August 6, 2006

It was Jollieboie aka Rocco Sison who decided to drop by that Thursday evening. With him was a big bag full of stuff he will bring to a secluded island off Quezon. His Fil-Spanish date asked him to spend the Holy Week with him, and since his transport and accommodation were already attended, Rocco said yes to the invitation. 

He chose my house as his staging ground before leaving for the province.

My exposure to his vanity side was short, it was almost fleeting. Ironic as it may seem, but at a time when I was happily domesticated, the last thing I should be worried about was my appearance. But because I was riding the high winds of my newly toned body, for me it was time for a makeover. Gone are the days when I would be satisfied with Kissa Papaya Soap and Celeteque Facial Wash.

Overnight, the female-sounding bar of Papaya extracts and fatty acids was replaced by an icy-menthol imported soap. A facial foam wash took the reigns of a formulated cleansing agent - which actually dried my skin, and while I didn't change the roll-on brand, I chose a deodorant with manly scents. Rexona grey used to be my preferred underarm protection, but I simply got bored with its smell.  

Years went by and my grooming line stayed faithful to the original. The facial foam is still there and so is the icy soap, which I love buying in packs of three. There are times when the dictates of budget tells me to cut down on my grooming, but not even a recession could force me to shift to cheaper alternatives - yet.

To this day, my best friend never knows how much his unintentional show and tell had changed me or how much I felt more confident going out and meeting people knowing I am well-groomed. Only once did I accompany him at Landmark to buy his needs, but by then, I have learned what there is to learn. And every time I return to Watsons to replenish my own grooming needs, my thoughts return to that evening when  Jolliboie dropped by before meeting his date.

Looking inwards, it was the beginning of my evolution.

Next: Mugen's 5 essential men's care products. 

OPINION: how big is too big?

No wonder the American print magazines are struggling. It's no surprise to me that they are on the down turn. With 500 page thick September issues that contain 98% ads and 2% content, your customers are annoyed. No, I don't want to purchase your ad book, I can get ads for free on TV and billboards thank you.

Euphoria Morning

Chris Cornell's Sunshower was played many times over on NU-107. And yet, I didn't bother listening to it from start to finish. I might have found Cornell's vocals too raw, or the song gained radio airplay at a time when my sound preference had already shifted to Electronic music.

It is only when the song was played - for the last time - by the same radio station did it hit me with elegiac discontent. "Why only now?!?" I bemoaned while leaning my forehead against the glass surface next to the disc jockey's booth.  Maybe it was the pervading glum that allowed me to absorb the message and the climactic vocals near the Outro served as my soft pillow that evening. I was grieving and Sunshower made me feel it wasn't the end.

Alternative music lives.

Released in 1999 as a bonus track for Cornell's first solo studio album "Euphoria Morning," the single was also featured in the Great Expectations' soundtrack album.

Chris Cornell went on to become the front man of the rock supergroup Audioslave. He seldom spoke about his first solo album, which flopped commercially. Sunshower on the other hand edged closer to being forgotten. No explanation was ever given as to what the single is all about. Yet, for all its obsolesce, the song plays best when everything around seems to crumble. It is a depressingly uplifting song that leaves you hoping  - for better days - even when the timeline remains uncertain.

Writing For Children: Second Verse

After Jojo P. Belated Happy Birthday, Ate.

In the forest live three bears. Papa bear works in a bank. Mama bear picks the honey and berries and baby bear goes to school. Every breakfast they see each other on the table. Having to spend all day out in the woodlands, they need energy to stay healthy.

On the table are three kinds of food. Papa bear's favorite is oatmeal porridge with berries. Mama bear loves wheat bread with honey and baby bear enjoys eating a bowl of cereal with fresh milk and dices of apple.

One day, baby bear wants to know where his cereal comes from. So he asks.

“Mama bear, mama bear, where does my cornflakes come from?” Papa bear grunts.

“Your cereal comes from the cornfields.”

“I don't get it. I saw a corn before and its bigger than my arm!” Papa bear continues to eat his oatmeal while smiling at Mama bear.

“A big scary machine grinds the corn into small pieces until it becomes this.” Mama bear picks a small piece of cornflake from Baby bear's bowl.

“How about your bread, what is it made of?” Mama bear stops spreading honey on her bread to listen to baby bear.

“This is made from wheat.”

“What is wheat?” Baby bear looks at Mama bear with excitement

“Wheat is a kind of grass that grows in cold places?”

“Like the grass that cows eat?” Papa bear starts laughing.

“No, it's a different kind of grass. Do you know that Papa bear's food is also made from grass?”

“But I though he is eating porridge?”

“And his porridge with sweet berries is made of oats.” Baby bear scratches the back of his ear.

“I really don't get it.”

“There are different kinds of grasses. Rice is a grass that grows in rainy places. The wheat in my bread and the oats in Papa bear's porridge are grasses too that grows in cold places.”

“Like mountains”


“Like places with snow?”

“When the snow melts and the sun comes out, yes.” Mama bear tells.

“What Mama bear is telling you is that the cornflakes and the wheat bread and my oatmeal porridge are all made from plants.” Papa bear finally speaks.

“Like the fruits on the table or the leafy vegetables that we ask you to eat sometimes, grasses have seeds and grains that we can turn into food.”

“Ahhhh now I get it.”

“Very good.”

“Can I plant those grasses in the backyard?” Both Mama bear and Papa bear looked at each other.

“Yes you can, but can you take care of them?”

Baby bear just smiled and went on to eat his cornflakes.

The bear family finally finished their breakfast and they all went on to have a merry and healthy day.

Baking is My Downfall

Someone should make me write:  "I must not bake," a thousand times.  Because when I bake, I eat.  And since I (usually) only bake what I love, this is a real dilemma:  how to bake without ending up looking like the Pillsbury dough boy.

Yesterday I took my 6 really, really ripe, half-way to black bananas (for maximum sweetness according to the recipe), and made Ultimate Banana Bread from Cook's Illustrated Magazine, July/August 2010.  I have to say, it was good.  And,  I took the result to work today - no tempting leftovers calling my name.

Ultimate Banana Bread served in the lovely ambiance of our staff room.

Using any of the publications from Chris Kimball's America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated Magazine empire almost invariably produces a good result because of several things.  First, they test exhaustively, second, they search for the absolute best flavor, and last, they provide meticulous directions.

Check out Baking Illustrated (all of the books in this blog are available in our Library).  Some of our family's faves:  cream biscuits and buttermilk biscuits, shortbread, pizza dough, pies - blueberry, peach and pumpkin, layer cakes - yellow, coconut and chocolate.  Unfailingly delicious.

Besides coming out with a great product, what you find with these recipes, is that you are learning great technique along the way.  Technique which you can then generalize to other, not so perfect recipes.  So you can cook from an ordinary recipe in a women's magazine and you can "correct" gaps, and use techniques so that you can get a better result than you would have by just following the recipe as stated.  An education in a book.

I love reliable cookbooks because certainty in cooking can be very comforting:  you put in the work, you follow the directions,  and you're rewarded with a positive result.  Would that everything in life were that straightforward!

Other library cookbooks I know and love are The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book,  Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Cake Bible,  and Ann Byrn's The Cake Mix Doctor.

ATK's Family Baking Book is similar to Baking Illustrated, but with many more recipes and less background info. 

The Cake Bible is like a graduate course in baking:  in fact Beranbaum has a PhD in food science, and wrote her dissertation on cake baking.  Wondrous recipes, accessible if you have the time and patience, as well as a well appointed kitchen.  Without exception all the recipes I have tried work perfectly, from the Cordon Rose Cream Cheesecake, to the homemade Classic Rolled Fondant for a wedding cake.  This is the cookbook to turn to if you want to be creative and to impress.

At the other end of the difficulty spectrum is The Cake Mix Doctor.  These recipes utilize cake mixes with various add-ins to make above average, and foolproof cakes with little time investment.  Have tried many of these, notably the Chocolate Praline Cake, and Tennessee Jam Cake;  just stay away from any of the bars or aptly named gooey cakes.

As Bryn rightly states, you can get away with a cake mix, but don't even try to use premade frosting.  Just not worth the calories or effort.

Hope you make it  to the Library before the coming hurricane to pick up some cookbooks...and hope we have power so that we can bake and cook to our heart's content during the impending rough weather!

outfit: blazer

This blazer has become something like a uniform for me lately. I've worn it to the studio for the past four days straight. It's 100% beautiful iridescent silk - blueish, grayish, brown & it has the perfect length and fit. 

Pay It Forward

I was about to leave the office this evening when the boss called my attention. I thought he would talk to me about the recent drama at the floor, but instead he asked my opinion about a certain ex-agent who left the workplace without a word.

"Mugen, basahin mo ito." I leaned forward to read the email on his laptop.

The letter was from someone who had gone AWOL many years ago. The sender said that he regretted his decision and that he hadn't found work since his departure.

"If it's not too much to ask," the letter said. "I would like to ask your good office to grant me a certification of employment." He has found work in a warehouse, which unfortunately requires previous job experience.

I vaguely had an idea why the boss asked me to read the letter. What happened next caught me off guard.

"Anu sa tingin mo, pagbibigyan ba natin ito?"

It was only a month ago when I nearly resigned because I have lost faith in my leadership. The boss had to got me drunk just to reconsider my decision. In that one-on-one talk, I've learned how much we are alike. The management styles are so similar, I even told him that he's an older version of me.

A price was exacted after I decided to stay. Much as I have found my confidence again, I felt I am in no position to decide on matters as important as the one in the letter. Why should be I held responsible for someone I barely know? I don't even know how his absence affected the operations of the company.

For that reason I was at first, undecided.

"So what's your decision, Mugen?" The boss asked again.

I could have played the mean card and consider ignoring the agent's plea as part of life. But I am deeply aware that despite the downturn in the business, and the unresolved issues at work, we are still blessed. Just days ago, the arrival of a new client has diversified the business. Bentusi's little company, on the other side of the fence, is swamped with writing jobs. And despite the imaginary nightmares plaguing the homeworld, our heads are above water. Much as I would like to ignore the Architect guiding our lives, my heart tells me now is the time to be compassionate even to someone who has never touched my life.

"Payagan na natin sir." My voice was doubtful. I even had to asked him what he thinks.

"So be it." The boss gave a faint smile.

I cannot recall if I told him why I came up with the decision, but the series of e-mails revealed how desperate the fellow was. Before he left, I overheard the boss mumbling, "Good Karma rin ito," to my relief. True to our nature, we followed the dictates of our heart.

Business is not as good as it was a month ago. I even had to give up a potential raket in order to help a non-salaried agent make both ends meet. But so far, under my watch, the agents were able to reach their quota. The high-wire performance made more challenging because of the articles I churn out for the raketship without anyone knowing.

The agent will get his certification. I will personally see to it that it will be signed tomorrow. As for the future, we leave everything to grace. What's important is at this junction, we showed the better sides of our humanity and decided to pay forward the gifts that we have recieved.

Free eBooks and Audiobooks

Do you listen to audiobooks while you cook? Maybe your commute to work is long and audiobooks make the trip more enjoyable. Are those eBook downloads costing too much? We have good news!

South Brunswick Public Library can provide you with free audiobooks and eBooks. Just visit the library’s web page, Click on the ‘Download Audiobooks . eBooks’ button marked Overdrive.

Here you can read our hints for downloading or take the tutorial for searching ListenNJ powered by Overdrive. You will also learn to select Libraries of Middlesex when you are asked the name of your library. Have your library card number and PIN ready.

Next, click on the ‘Click Here To Download’ link at the top of this page. You will arrive at the ListenNJ Digital Download Site powered by Overdrive. The first time you visit please click on the links under ‘Software Downloads’.

Desktop computers, both Windows and Mac, will need to download Overdrive Media Console for audiobooks and Adobe Digital Editions for eBooks. Adobe will require an free Adobe Digital ID.

Nook users need to download books to a desktop computer first and then drag them to the Nook.

Android, BlackBerry, iPhone/iPad, or Windows Phone 7 can download the Overdrive Media Console software directly to their moble device to download both audiobooks and eBooks. After you have installed the software and downloaded your book it will open in your Overdrive Media Console software.

Please visit the library Information Desk or call 732-329-4000 x 7286 for help with any of this. Enjoy the books!

Travel Blues

The airlines continue to complicate things by charging fees for every little thing - food, beverages, blankets, pillows, baggage handling, etc.!  Some of the fees are unavoidable (I guess) and not the airlines company's fault (like the surcharge we all pay for security measures post 9/11 that come to about $12.00 per person), but others they are getting away with because we can't do much about it.  We started down the slippery slope from the days when we enjoyed our travel experience including the transportation itself (pre-9/11), to having to grin and bear the awful experience that travel has become.

I have tried to figure out where all of the fees and taxes come from that are added to you airfare these days to see of there are ways to avoid the more costly ones, but that information is hidden in a lot of legalese and fine print.  The only way you can get a breakdown of what you are being charged is to actually make a reservation!  I wanted to book two round-trip tickets the other day and the airfare quoted was only about $300.00.  As I proceeded to book the flight, I was suddenly faced with a charge of almost $1200.00 - almost 350%  of the flight charge added on as "fees and taxes."  This is getting ridiculous.

On my latest trip, I see how people are getting around the baggage handling charges.  Some people who travel often have credit cards that are "attached" to an airline for which they are allowed at least one free bag per person.  My husband and I have a Continental Airlines credit card issued by CHASE.  But the more popular way of avoiding a checked luggage fee is they don't bother to check their bag and they bring clearly oversized bags through security all the way to the gate.  Either in the waiting room before the plane to depart or as the flight is called and the staff person is scanning boarding passes, these bags get tagged with jetway check tickets and their suitcase, (or stroller or golf bag) are taken from the end of the jetway and stowed in the baggage compartment.  Upon arrival at their destination, their bags are brought to them as they wait just outside the plane in the narrow jetway. 

On this latest flight, I think the majority of the 90 passengers were standing waiting at the end of the jetway for a bag and only about 3 or 4 pieces of luggage came out on the luggage carousel later.
The secret to this is to have a bag that is not so large that someone questions you for bringing it down to the gate.  It is often a smaller rolling bag that might fit into the overhead bin on some of the larger planes, but the front pockets are so over stuffed that the bag is far to thick (and heavy) to squeeze into the compartment.  I think this started with items like strollers and wheelchairs that were needed to get a passenger or child to the gate and would be needed immediately upon arrival to get that passenger back out if the arrival airport, but "savvy" passengers have determined this is a good way to not only avoid the baggage handling charges, but to get their luggage early and not have to wait at the carousels for the three hundredth black bag to spit out of the shoot!

It surprises me that the airline and the luggage handlers agree to this.  The process can only happen because a very strong luggage handler is willing to climb up and down a set of stairs with all of these extra bags!

Remember the "good old days" when you could go to the airport with your family and friends and all of you were welcome to go all the way to the gate to say your good-byes as you board the plane or continue visiting if the plane should be delayed?  You didn't have to strip, be x-rayed, subject your luggage to search and keep track of all of your items that might be classified as "liquids!"  Children who are ten years and younger have never had the pleasure of getting off the plane and having Grandma and Grandpa right there with their arms outstretched to welcome you!  These are the little things we took for granted that we now pay extra for the privilege of not enjoying!

Travel Writing

It was past eleven in the evening. A heavy downpour earlier that night has left much of the city under flood water. Drenched, (I forgot to bring my umbrella so I used my bag to cover my head) I boarded the fifth jeep I passed by. An FX from Ortigas won't be coming.

Besides, it's getting late.

The jeep was snarled in traffic. The four lane avenue was overwhelmed with cars and trucks trying to squeeze at the middle. A few blocks away, the road had sunk beneath the murky torrent. A nearby creek has overflowed again.

I could have taken a nap while waiting for the vehicles to untangle themselves. But the thrill of seeing the jeep wading through, with waves lapping against a surface kept my mind awake. Despite being in my 30s, some childish wonders remain. I used to get upset when the jeep I am riding deliberately avoids passing through flooded streets.
The cars were still not moving. To keep myself busy, I thought of drawing the rosary and use the idle time to commune with the almighty. But prayers require a special time. It is as if everyone inside the jeep shared my faith. The attention I'd be getting might cast me in a bad light. 

So the next thing I did was to press the keypad of my Samsung phone. It's easier to pretend texting someone instead of running my fingers on the wooden beads, half-exposed inside my backpack. But composing a message to a friend wasn't my idea of passing time. I was penning the words of the blog entry you are reading right now.

I have always known that the mind travels inside a moving vehicle. Maybe its the change of landscape that allows a person to ruminate, or perhaps the dizzying passage of objects in a frame drowns a writer in contemplation. I have experienced it before, inside a G-Liner Bus going to Recto. The last rays of sunlight ached my hungry soul. So strong was my urge to write a poem, but to do it in a piece of paper using a green pen will only give me a headache.

Lately, I take advantage of the mind-speak to write articles for the raketship. The swiftness of translating thoughts into sentences outruns anything I create while churning words in a study. A 500-word essay gets done in 30 minutes. Minus the editing, the time saved enables me to do other things.

Including harvesting of good thoughts.

For some reason, this lullaby of the head never gets broken. Even right now, when the jeep parts the deluge  in front of the Jose Rizal University. Any moment, the engine may go kaput and we, the passengers may be forced to dip our feet into the icy waters of Kalentong. But here I am, bent on making this disarrayed thoughts a solid narrative.

There is a reason for the flowering of words. The heart becomes eloquent when the mind finds clarity. I cannot say how it is done, but the words seem to flow, like a river on its transit to the sea. The trip is like a short story. The plot can be told in many ways, but the idea is what's driving the storyteller to reach the port.

I am getting closer to home now and this mental monologue is coming to an end. Two more road crossings, a bridge over a railway and a metro station, whose underbelly becomes the basin of Manila and I am off this vessel. To publish this musing in its pure form depends on my fancy. Perhaps, I may find it too pretentious, too cluttered, or its soul maybe lacking. Disappointed, I might ditch the exercise completely. What is important is that I got myself a blog entry at a time when my voice threatens to disappear under torrents of other worries.

To wade through, like the jeep inches me towards my destination. 


And for the first time we learned the perils of collective thinking.

"A letter supposedly written by one of the survivors of yesterday's tragic hostage crisis at the Quirino Grandstand has been making the rounds online, highlighting the continued lack of information on what transpired during the ordeal. The letter continues to fuel public curiosity about what really happened inside the hijacked bus.

The letter, undersigned by "Bang Lu Min, Survivor, Quirino Bloodbath", gave a compellingly detailed account of what allegedly transpired in the tourist bus during the hostage crisis.

The letter painted a picture of the hostage taker, former PNP Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza, as a reasonable man driven to kill out of agitation and desperation.

"The hostage taker, as you know him was really nice. He treated us okay and even let the elders and the children leave the bus. He said your policemen treated him unfairly. He was a policeman too and was accused of doing something he had no knowledge of. But your government didn’t listen so he used us to get everyone’s attention," the letter continued.

The letter first appeared in response to a Yahoo! Philippines News Blogpost, with a link to a Facebook post that has since been taken down.

The letter was reposted on several blogsites, and was quickly picked up despite the lack of verification.

The spuriousness of the letter became apparent later in the day when the Hong Kong government's Information Services Department published an official list of the names of the hostage victims. 

There was no mention of a "Bang Lu Min" anywhere on the list."   

August 25, 2010

DIY: feather crown

 First make sure to have all of your materials. I ran all over the garment district, up and down 38th st in almost ever trim store. It may take some time to find the perfect materials for you. 

Materials: pretty feathers of different lengths, a ribbon that goes well with the feathers, glue (preferably a fabric glue), a needle and thread, and some sort of backing for your crown; I used the card board paper that is inside most new baseball caps.

1.) sew the feathers together if they are not already sewn together for you (this make them easier to glue together).
2.) glues the feathers to one another and to the ribbon. let sit and dry a bit.
3.) glue and sew ribbon & sew feathers to cardboard base. let sit and dry a bit.

-images shot on Ben's balcony in Williamsburg

The World Inside SBPL

The South Brunswick Public Library is probably one of the best first stops for anyone new to living in the United States.

This is true for at least a half dozen reasons. The first is obvious as soon as you walk through the front door and past the Checkout Desk. Our World Language Collection, located to the rear left of the Desk, includes shelves of books, magazines, movies, music, and instruction for anyone for whom English is a second language. The Collection currently includes about a dozen languages: Spanish, some Japanese and French, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, and numerous languages of India.

Available materials include fiction, non-fiction, and children's items. While its nice to have items in a native language a new resident also needs materials to study the English language and culture, especially if he or she is enrolled in an ESL (English As A Second Language) program or studying for a Citizenship Test (no piece of cake!)

Backing up the materials for reference and checkout are also support groups that meet regularly here at the Library: the ESL Class and the Conversation Class. The ESL class is led by a volunteer trained to lead the group. Participants much register at the Information Desk.

The Conversation Class does not require any registration and is an informal walk-in group. It is for people who already speak some English but want to develop their conversation skills in a social setting. Participants sometimes bring in mementos or photos to discuss with the others in the group.

In addition to Library materials on the shelves and the classes in our meeting rooms we also provide online resources for new Americans through our website. These resources, compiled by our librarians, include as well as a set of links for citizenship and immigration topics at:

So, please take note of our Library motto new Americans and know that the Library truly is your guide to discovery.


Im so excited about this long and short haired lamb fur that I bought for the next collection! Can't wait for you to see the result. Plus: I've also been playing with the idea of designing a coat with this type of fur just for me. 

Tomato Time

Real Jersey tomatoes are absolutely the best. Why isn’t there a show, Jersey Tomato, instead of Jersey Shore? Much truer to our state and better for you too.

This week I had, I don’t remember, must have been about 10 lbs. of tomatoes from Honey Brook Organic Farm. I also had the August 2011 issue of Bon Appetit (yes, you can get issues of Bon Appetit in our Library! Or you can find the recipes at  The following two recipes are on pages 90 and 91.

The Tomato and Cheddar Pie was great for family brunch with a fried egg and crisp bacon. It was also good reheated for an impromptu dinner one night, and then, later in the week, cut into small pieces and served as an appetizer before our main course of the Tomato and Crab Soup (which for us was Tomato and Shrimp Soup) for a family and friends dinner outside on the deck.  Dessert was ice cream from Bent Spoon in Princeton - some of the amazing flavors:  Corn and Bacon, Cointreau Cilantro, Black Raspberry and Anise Hyssop, and Basil.

Some tips for the Tomato and Cheddar Pie:
– If you don’t have buttermilk (I didn't), use 1 cup of milk to which you add 1 tablespoon of white, apple cider, or red vinegar, stir and let sit 10 minutes.
– This recipe makes way too much crust and filling for a regular 9 inch Pyrex pie pan. Do yourself a favor and use a larger baking dish for a better result.
– You don’t have to wait for the pie to cool before eating – we didn’t, we just dove in – that’s why the photo shows a piece missing – forgot to take the picture before we had our brunch!

The Tomato and Crab Soup caught my eye because instead of traditional flavors, it was a Thai inspired dish that included fish sauce (a.k.a. nam pla), lemongrass, and a Thai chile.

I never used lemongrass before – first to find it: Wegman’s had it – a pack of two tough and fibrous pale yellow green foot long stalks for $2.99.

Then, how to prepare it – I’d seen lemongrass used before on Top Chef. There they bruised the stalks with a chef’s knife. Being the worry wart that I am, I used a flat metal meat mallet to pound them flat instead – they immediately released a great smell – lemony and vegetal, wonderfully fragrant. Nice!

Other than the time it took to slice the lemongrass really finely, this recipe was a snap to prepare with a few adjustments:

– I used a Serrano chile because they didn’t have a Thai chiles at Wegman's, and Serranos are similar in heat profiles.
– I couldn’t find the crabmeat at Costco, so I grabbed a refrigerated container of their Lime Cilantro Shrimp (perfect!) and added it to the soup at the last minute.
– Didn’t bother with “pea tendrils” – seriously? where do you get those? – or the snow peas (just a garnish anyway).

Result – a very light citrus-y soup, with notes of orange, lime and yes, lemongrass. Easy and delicious, healthy tasting and perfect for summer. And about that fish sauce - that and lime juice are very trendy this season.  

Especially love Bon Appetit, Cook's Illustrated and Martha Stewart Living magazine for their great recipes.  Stop by our Library, get some mags, and get cooking!

Read the Book Then See the Movie!

This week's dreary weather of rain and more rain is a perfect excuse to head to the local movie theaters.  But be sure to stop by the South Brunswick Library along the way because many of this summer's movie releases (and some due out this fall) are based on some excellent novels.  Afterwards, take a moment to comment on our blog and let us know which is better, the book or the movie?!

Two books I recently read when I heard the movies were going to be released was Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay and The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  I decided to pick up de Rosnay's novel based on a friend's recommendation and now I'm spreading the word.  It is a powerful, heart-wrenching story of the Jewish persecution in 1942 when the French police rounded up thousands of Jewish families and forced them to stay in the Velodrome d'Hiver under horrific conditions.  There, men, women and children were separated from each other and sent to camps in France before being sent to Auschwitz and put to death. 

De Rosnay's story jumps between two time periods--1942 and the present--in order to tell the the story of Sarah Strazynski, a 10-year-old who is rounded up to go to the Velodrome along with her mother and father and a journalist who is assigned to cover the anniversary of the "Round Up" many years later.  When Sarah is taken away, she has no idea that anything bad is going to happen, particularly since it was their own French police who came for them. Not clearly understanding what her fate is likely going to be, she locks her brother in a secret cupboard to keep him safe, promising the four-year-old she would be back to save him.  When she discovers what is actually happening, she know she needs to survive and somehow get back to Paris before it's too late.

Jump to present day France and the reader is introduced to Julia Jarmond, an American living in Paris and married to a Frenchman.  She is assigned to write about the Vel d'Hiv for its upcoming anniversary and must admit she knows barely anything about this terrible time in French history.  As she continues her research, she discovers that there is a connection between Sarah and her husband's family and Julia becomes all consumed in finding about what happened to this young girl?  Could she actually have survived and if so, is she alive?  What did her husband's relatives know about the Vel d'Hiv and young Sarah.  While those around her caution her not to dig too much for the truth might be more than she can handle, Julia cannot let it go.

As a reader, I found this story so absorbing that I couldn't put it down.   I highly recommend it and look forward to seeing if the movie can compare to the book.

Way before news hit that they were making the book The Help  into a movie, this title was hard to find in the library.  The copies were flying off the shelf for months and months after its release.  So this summer I finally got a copy and it was worth the wait.  I recently read an article by Kathryn Stockett and she revealed this manuscript was rejected by sixty publishers before she got a yes!  She was so devoted to getting this story  told that despite the rejections, she kept editing and tweaking the manuscript until publisher number 61 accepted the book.  Talk about coming full circle with the movie out with a stellar cast and now the book is hard to find on our library shelves again. This novel is about maids working in Jackson, Mississippi, during the 1960's for a group of white, wealthy women.   They are treated so badly that the group of maids agree to secretly tell their story, despite the risk to themselves and their families.  I found myself rushing through the end of this book to find out what happens to these characters, afraid of the consequences they may face for revealing how they are treated.  I'm certainly glad the author was persistent enough not to give up on this manuscript!

A third movie due out in September with Sarah Jessica Parker is based on the novel by Allison Pearson, I Don't Know How She Does It.  It's been a long time since I've read this book but I remember thoroughly enjoying it--a must read for every working mom!   Kate Reddy juggles the life of mom and executive while trying not to fall apart doing it all.  Funny and touching.  (The movie trailer looks good too!) 

LIFE: current reading

The house of mirth is a great read, I recommend it to everyone.  That RUSH cover is so very beautiful, I think I may try and DIY that Burberry sweater. And French Vogue, need I say too much more? 

Cranial Calisthenics

Maraming nakikita habang naglalakad sa kahabaan ng Shaw Boulevard:

Mga kaduda-dudang nilalang na nakatambay sa tabi ng ATM Machine | Mga madidilim na mansyon na taimtim na nagmamatyag sa tabi ng nangungulilang daan | Mga binatang may ka-text at tila may katagpo sa labas ng 7-Eleven | Mga kainan ng goto, tapsilog at sisig na bukas magdamag | Mga GRO na naghahangad kumita, nag-iintay ng parokyano sa labas ng beerhouse | Mga paslit na naglalakad sa tabi ng tulay pasado hatinggabi | Mga bantay ng pasiyente na nagyoyosi sa labas ng ospital, nagmumuni kung kailan mailalabas ang minamahal | Mga kuliglig na humuhuni sa tabi ng isang condominium na kilala sa taglay nitong Lumivent aesthetics.

Pero higit sa lahat, nakita ko ang aking sarili kasama ang isang matagal na kaibigan, pinagmamasdan ang mundong madalas ay pinapasintabi namin na lang.


jacket: zara

Love the color! love the shape! 

Where to go on Vacation - a Tough Decision?

My husband and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in November. Our dilemma is “where do you go in November for a Romantic getaway?” We actually travel every year around this time and although we don’t think we are big fans of a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving, we have spent some amusing times looking for something resembling turkey all across Europe, New Zealand and South East Asia.

We are not really the kind of couple that would enjoy sitting on a beach for an entire week, although the thought of getting out of the dreary Northeast at the beginning of winter when all of the autumn color is gone but the whole winter still lies ahead, is a pretty enticing thought. I have used some of the information that Kuller/Class A Travel brought to the library at our last travelogue. There are some beautiful white (or pink) sand beaches in the Caribbean and along the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. We went to Cancun many years ago and made the arrow-straight drive to the famed Chichen Itza in the sweltering heat at that time, so Cancun seems like a “been there, done that” destination but perhaps further south in Cozamel or along the Mayan Rivera further south from there. I think there are some Mayan ruins besides Chichen Itza that we have not seen that we could use to break up the week of sun or in case there is a rainy day. You hear so many things in the news about it not being safe in Mexico lately that I think the resorts that were commercially developed specifically for tourism are the safe way to go.

We spent a week in St. Maartin about four years ago and didn’t find it to be the paradise that we expected. The hotel we stayed at was accessed by crossing the end of the runway at the airport and you couldn’t get anywhere on the island without crossing that road, twice. If you haven’t seen where the airport is in St. Maartin, you haven’t seen the most bizarre location for a runway. The planes land directly across a very appealing white sand beach and despite all of the huge warning signs about being burned by jet wash, people insist on sunbathing on the beach, even some topless women. When those jumbo jets come in for landing, you really think that they may not clear a standing person’s head. And the planes come in all day and all night. A hotel near the airport is no paradise! The hotel was also being converted to a time-share property so all of the pools were closed as was the casino and most of the restaurants. We did have a beautiful balcony that faced the ocean directly with a magnificent view that will most likely be gone by now with the renovation since windows with a direct view of the ocean are susceptible to severe damage in the storms that hit the islands.

We have always heard from others that Aruba is the best Caribbean Island. It seems also to be the most expensive! We have also heard that St. Lucia is the most green and lush of the islands, but it is also “an adventurer’s paradise” which reads to me that you have to have calves of steel to “hike” the trails and nerves of steel to ride the zip-lines. We remember the annoying buzzing sound that zip lines make for miles around from our recent trip to Alaska – it sounds like a swarm of bees coming around every two minutes or so – interspersed with screams of joy (and terror.)

We are also considering the Greek Isles; however, it appears that October 30 is the END of the season in Greece and most places close up on November 1st even thought the water and air temps are in the 70’s. We are looking at Crete since it is the southern most of the Greek Islands (hence the warmest later in the season) and there appears to be a large variety of white sand beaches and lots of interesting ancient history to explore. The question is, will there be any restaurants, car rentals or shops open?

How do you decide where to go on vacation each year? Does anyone have advice?


"If you approve the "Kulo" exhibit, please replace your nose with a penis in your profile pic."

@jppgalang posted this challenge on his Twitter account.

I wouldn't mind biting the bait. It's as easy as grafting the stiff cock of Matt Hughes, my favorite porn actor  and then attaching it to my face. I'm sure my partner won't care. The people who follow my twitter account might even find it hilarious.

The problem with Mideo Cruz's exhibit is that it caught the nation's attention for the wrong reasons. First, the religious and secular divide is already big. With the bishops losing their credibility after the SUV scandal, and families turning against one another because of the Reproductive Health Bill, the Kulo installation provided more ammunition for the opposite sides to hit each another.

guess how big  his equipment is

trust me, it's bigger than this.

I read somewhere that the art exhibit was unheard of until someone trashed the gallery last month. The liberals in turn howled in chorus while their freedom of expression is being torched by the righteous. But before you agree, let's not forget, the fanatic who stormed the Cultural Center of the Philippines was also practising his right to express his opinion.

You may call it performance art minus the applause.

The ruckus over the exhibit is quite ironic. The twisted creation has been a mainstay of small galleries for  years. No untoward incident ever occurred and while the artist didn't get praises for his work, he was free to indulge his perversities. It's true, the Christ image is shocking, even sacrilegious. But it won't make me desecrate the halls of CCP and demand the balls of the artist shoved in his mouth.

My dirty, dirty mind can spawn better ideas to shock the flock.

Kulo is a work of a person in need of love, or at least mind-blowing sex with hung guys who love to bareback. Mideo Cruz loves cocks, and that's how I see his controversial work. Humor aside, I think his life is in tatters and despite providing various interpretations for his work, nothing will change his perception. For the artist, his creations are subliminal work no matter how the audience loves to piss at them.

It's like talking to a Bible-thumper about the merits of other faiths.

The furor over Cruz's work raises questions to the limits of  freedom of expression. Does art need to be censored when the public finds it distasteful? If Mideo Cruz's works are taken down because of public pressure, what will be its implications to other artists?

Does art need to conform with morality?

The controversy has become a matter of national interest that the Senate even launched its own investigation.  We all know that the circus is meant for the media. Meanwhile, the social fabric see-saws with a broken fulcrum, and it would have been better if we avoid these distractions. Population growth, job creation and food security should be our immediate concern.

As for me, while the Poleteismo exhibit hardly offends my sensibilities, (I even find some of his works grotesquely enamoring) I side with those whose sacred beliefs are violated. Mideo Cruz deserves to be ostracized.

Let him have sleepless nights.

There are limits to expression - including art - and the Christ image with a penis ashtray for a nose has already crossed the line.  

International Film Festival Never Ends!

While the Summer International Film Festival will end this week it is by no means the end of free international film presentations at the Library! It's just not as often. The Summer program, which had its last showing on Aug. 17 with the Italian film Look At Me, offers a different film each week, twice. The rest of the year movie goers get a different film each month, twice.  Times are always 2 p.m. on Sunday and 6:30p.m. on Wednesday.  The movies are advertised as popular films from the country of origin. Every film has English subtitles, unless of course they from an English-speaking country. Refreshments from home are always welcome. Just keep it neat and not too noisey.
I thought I would give the festival a try recently and brought my teenaged daughter with me to see the Austrailian film Jindabyne.  We brought a bag of popped kettlecorn, two bottled soft drinks, and some bagged candy - all the standard artillery for any movie fan.  We did enjoy our experience but we also learned a few things to share that will enchance the experience of anyone who joins us next time.

 Most importantly, the official start of the viewing is 6:30 p.m. SHARP on Wednesday nights!  The doors to Meeting Room A/B open at 6:25 p.m. Timing is strict because some films run longer than others and the Library closes at 9 p.m.  Period. We got there at 6:45 p.m. and had to slink in under the cover of darkness.  We also had to very carefully open our popcorn bag but it still sounded as loud as a car crash to me as the audience was already hushed and watching the serious film. Don't be late!
Well, no one kicked us out or gave us the stink eye as far as I could tell, but I'll be early next time. 

We settled into our seats with our snacks. We sat in the middle row, off to the right, near the room entrance. While not cinema sized, the screen is larger than your average large screen TV and is viewed easily from any seat in the room. Visability was excellent.  Room temperature may be another issue.  For whatever reason the temperature in this room can be very cool and you may want to bring along a light sweater.  My mother told me I should always bring along a little sweater where ever I go in life anyway so I've already got the sweater whether I am at the Library or not. I think I may have been the only one in the room wearing a sweater, but I was comfortable.

The Fall International Film Festival begins on Sunday, Sept. 18 with a Portuguese film The House of Sand.  Remember that when summer is over there is only one new movie a month, instead of each week.  To read a short description of upcoming films, as well as details such as rating and length, you can click on this link
 or go to our website  to find the link there. The films in the Festival are usually for grownups, so please check the details of a particular movie before bringing along anyone under age 17.

In conclusion, my daughter (she is age 18) and I would give our experience two thumbs up. Not world travelers, we both got a kick out of seeing a film popular from a far off land that neither of us have ever visited.  To some extent, its a virtual travel experience as you dip a toe into a different culture by way of the film.  Most importantly, it's free fun! 

 If you would rather see an international film of your choice, in the privacy of your own home you can do that too, but you'll need to pay a dollar for a one-week rental.  Just choose from the our extensive collection near the Checkout Desk.  The rental fee helps the Library maintain as well as add to its selection of movies.  

I hope I see you next month for House of Sand.

DESIGN: sheer & opaque silk skirt

This skirt has got to be one of my favorite side projects yet. Its is a little trendy, I know - I know, but I feel that this is my own sort of twist on the long sheer skirt with short opaque skirt under it thing.


It is never my plan to leave the country, not even for a short vacation. I don't have a passport to start with, and I even doubt whether I'd be given a visa should I decide to get one.

As I begin to see the real cost of going abroad, not even my secret stash can hold out to the imminent cash burst. Lacking in wardrobe, an overhaul alone will cut deep into my pocket. Not to mention my strong  attachment to the ground. Only a week of uprooting and I will wither like a shrub planted in a new pot.

These things, I get to learn as the day of my partner's departure came close. I was with him when he bought his luggage, as well as some of the toiletries and undies he will have to wear. The partner said it will cost double when he buys it elsewhere and despite my subtle objections to his splurge, I let him do all the shopping. The thrill of getting new stuff is all part of the experience.

As the countdown continued, I cannot help but be vocal with my longings. Who would enjoy being the one getting left behind. But this muted protests soon gave way to acceptance. It is perfectly understandable for him to be excited, the sights and sounds of a continent across the blue waters seldom reach one's shores.

Quebec, Toronto, Ottawa, no matter what history books or even Google Map show, I would never step foot in these citiess.

Not even in my wildest dreams.

For this reason, I embrace my partner's voyage with open arms. Guided by faith that his joys and adventures will be mine, I have learned to let go no matter how strange my days would be.

But before he left, I made sure the best parts of me will be his most intimate companions.


In my days of disquiet nights, I was comforted by objects that cradled my juvenile wonders: Cloudless sunsets, a night sky lit by a billion stars, alternative music from my college years, old-school anime, that forced me to cut classes just to follow the episodes, wide open spaces, swathes of forest, the smell of burning leaves, smiles from strangers never to meet again, little mysteries to keep the faith strong.

The little bear personified my romantic proclivity, and now that I found my significant other - to express those leanings, my life has been defined by blissful contentment. I do not wish for more. As for the plush toy, he retired to his little corner on my personal altar; a reminder that even when dark clouds converge, part of me basks in eternal sunshine.

And now that Baabaa and I are bound to live in different coasts I decided to let him be the custodian of everything that brings joy in my often sordid and troubled life.

Two days before his departure, the partner said that his grandmother used to put a rosary inside his bag. With his lola now staying in the province, it was my wooden rosary - the one I've been using to invoke the heavens -  finding its spot inside his baggage.

I will get by on my own. Maybe this distance is good, for the absence of the other would bring us even closer. Whatever life deems as fate, I am ready to face squarely. For beyond the vast ocean, across the brown landmass, behind towering mountains and glittering cities bustling with people from all walks of life,

soars my love.

My heart belongs to the Notthewimpykid, my soul will always be by his side.

Happy Monthsary Baabaa.

Mental Note

There is something true and sincere in my tears.
For this reason, I seldom shed them.

T-Minus 6 Hours

DIY: Proenza Schouler dress reconstructed

I didn't do too much damage, just changed the hem line. I just hope Jack and Lazaro never see me wearing it! I wonder what they would think? p.s. please like this post on bloglovin if you like the dress lol, my newest goal is to make it to the popular post page :) 

Foodie World

Roasted deliciousness courtesy of the organic farm this week.

If you're not eating, cooking or food shopping, (or dreaming about food, which, I have to admit, happens to me on a regular basis), you can always read about food.  Besides cookbooks, there is a whole world out there of great foodie books.

Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly comes to mind first.  Irreverent, witty, utterly captivating as well as vicariously thrilling and (to me) a little scary, that sums up Bordain's life and books. 

I also enjoyed his A Cook's Tour, about travelling around the world looking for the 'perfect meal'; The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps and Bones, ostensibly about using what's known as offal, but really just more of Bourdain's trenchant and funny experiences with cooking and eating, and Medium Raw:  A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food, which is billed as a sequel to Kitchen Confidential.   

Medium Raw is flawed by a section which veers off into a rant about food chefs and misbegotten celebrity that, to me, seemed a little too insider-y and bad-humored, but on the whole, I still can't resist Bourdain's 'voice', and I'll read anything he writes - (just haven't read his novels, but I prefer non-fiction anyway).

Another food writer with brains and lots of food cred is Ruth Reichl, formerly New York Times restaurant critic and editor-in-chief of (now defunct) Gourmet magazine.  Her first memoir, Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table had me laughing out loud recounting the terrible and actually dangerous meals her mom served - think food poisoning - and how she grew to appreciate great food from her boarding school days in Montreal to cooking in a commune in Berkeley, California. 

I also loved her next two best selling books - Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table, her life in food and relationships, and Garlic and Sapphires: the Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise, about her work reviewing restaurants for the NY Times (intense envy from me).  Funny, literate, adventurous and down-to-earth - I would love to share a dinner table with either of these authors...but I guess I'll just have to settle for their books instead.

Other food books I've enjoyed in no particular order:

Blood, Bones and Butter, by Gabrielle Hamilton - new book by the chef/owner of Prune in NYC.  Even if you're not a foodie, this book is so well written and evocative that fans of literate memoirs will enjoy this. (Ruefully hilarious:  the section recounting her dread as an adult in visiting her mom whom she hasn't seen in years.)

Heat, by Bill Buford - food obsessed, and working in a restaurant kitchen,  then traveling to Italy to apprentice to a master butcher (more interesting than it sounds - I read this twice, and I never read a book twice).

Knives at Dawn:  America's Quest for Culinary Glory at the Legendary Bocuse d'Or Competition, by Andrew Friedman - chef Timothy Collingsworth from the French Laundry competes in France in 2009 with support from Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, and Jerome Bocuse:  overly detailed - yes, but this mirrors the minutiae and effort that goes into competing at this level.

The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation, by David Kamp - history of food trends and how they happen.

The Saucier's Apprentice: One Long Trip through the Great Cooking Schools of Europe, by Bob Spitz - mid-life crisis personal journey through cooking schools at age 50.

How to Pick a Peach: the Search for Flavor From Farm to Table,  by Russ Parsons - how to select produce and some recipes to go with them.

Julie and Julia, by Julie Powell - the movie was fun, but so is the book. (Meryl Streep became Julia Child.)

or straight from the horse's mouth:

My Life in France, by Julia Child

And many more...including -

A Homemade Life, by Molly Wizenberg - when I started reading this book, I couldn't finish it, because it was so engaging and conversational that it made me mad that I hadn't written it myself.  Someday I'll read the rest of it! 

Leave me a comment if you have read any of these or any other foodie books that you've loved...