, April 21, 2006
(view all comments by Linda Shelnutt)
Skinny-Boobed, Barren, Non-Cook Reigns In Culinary Cozy
Tamar Myers gleefully gets away with spoofing (in good taste) the Amish, Mennonite subcultures. I?m thinking those communities might proudly read this series, loving Magdalena Yoder's religious outrageousness and pokes at their shared background. Myers gives a delightful view of this culture's ability to bubble with fun just under the surface of what they believe to be necessary religious severity. Maybe everything needs a relief valve.
Misquoted idioms are the forte of Freni, Magdalena's cook, who is also a relative (according to Magdalena, most people in a small Mennonite community are related).
Instead of "taking a page out of their book," Freni suggest to Magdalena that "You should take a page out of their dictionary." The people referenced as having the right page/dictionary from which to take are an Amish family who have shunned a relative who has installed rubber tires on his buggy. It seems that in this case rubber tires are too much of a lazy luxury.
Might that be why Myers doesn't quite allow herself the gourmet luxury Diane Mott Davidson relishes religiously in her series, with Goldy Schulz catering at the helm? Maybe it's too sensual to watch a character wallowing in luscious details in a cooking process simultaneous to getting a clue.
Or, possibly everyone has a different little bit of heaven to take to earth.
The included recipes from the Pen Dutch were indeed GOOD. On page 23 of the paperback, "Bubble and Squeak? is featured, which is a gooey, flavor-lush, potato-pancake-thingy fried in bacon grease.
(I?ve never purchased the expensive phobia of cholesterol. My Italian grandmother cooked everything in bacon grease and ate all the current ?no nos.? She lived, actively, to 94 years old. Her second day in any hospital was the day she died, telling my Mom, ?I?m going to go to sleep tonight and not wake up, Margie.?)
This novel, an entertaining, gentle, and tasteful exposure of various levels of the Amish culture should remain not only a best-seller in the mass marketplace, it should receive kudos of the highest order as being a landmark offering within the annals of Cultural Conversations.