Review: Bread, Wine, Chocolate

By , October 20, 2016

I recently read an excellent book: Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of the Foods We Love by Simran Sethi.

The book’s description reads in part: “Award-winning journalist Simran Sethi explores the history and cultural importance of our most beloved tastes, paying homage to the ingredients that give us daily pleasure, while providing a thoughtful wake-up call to the homogenization that is threatening the diversity of our food supply.”

At the risk of sounding trendy, we are definitely a “foodie” family. Appreciation of food infuses our life, largely defining its quality. This being true, Sethi’s book about how and why we appreciate food holds particular appeal.

Sethi discusses the three titular foods, in addition to beer, coffee, and briefly, seafood. All of these contribute to the gustatory quality of my family’s life on some level.

She discusses how all of our senses combine to create what we call our sense of taste. Besides teaching me a lot about how we perceive food, she confirms many lessons I’ve either learned from other sources, or have observed in my own life.

For example, she talks about how seeing a food or drink can affect how it tastes to us. This struck a chord with me, as I only reluctantly drink coffee in clear mugs or cups—for me, opacity is the first requirement in a quality coffee holder (among many—see Simple Gifts: Choosing the Right Mug). Logically, I know that makes no sense, but I can’t avoid it. Bread, Wine, Chocolate reminds me that I shouldn’t try!

Of course, when I say I “read” Bread, Wine, Chocolate, I mean that I listened to the audiobook, as I often do, so that I can continue the work of the homestead rather than sitting and reading all day every day (which I would gladly do—see Voices in My Head).

In this particular case, the audiobook added a pleasant additional dimension to the book.

The author infuses her thesis with sensuality. Sethi’s a very attractive woman, and she has an eye for human beauty that she shares with the reader. If she finds the man or woman she’s interviewing attractive, or they find her so, she’s quick to let us know! At several points she expresses her enjoyment of the foods she writes about in sensual, even sexual terms. The audiobook’s narrator, Therese Plummer’s expressive, sexy voice and delivery suits her subject well. A low, lyrical voice murmuring appreciation for good coffee, beer, wine, chocolate, and bread in my ear considerably lightened the many loads of firewood I hauled through the course of the book!

However you prefer to read a book, I urge you to do read this one. If you like good food, you’ll appreciate Bread, Wine, Chocolate!

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