Week 3 of Nonfiction November! Let’s talk Ex-Pat literature.

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Nonfiction November moves into to Week 3 with Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert and our host is Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness.

Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

Let’s talk Ex-Pat literature.  Real life stories about settling in a foreign country, the hope of fitting in, learning about a new culture and most likely, learning a new language.

I want to state I am not, by any means, an expert on this!  I did travel around Europe for over a year and half (until the money ran out!) and experienced culture shock with languages, currency and culture.  But the idea of leaving my country to settle elsewhere permanently has always been a bit of a fantasy.  Doug and I had an opportunity (see HERE) but didn’t act on it. Alas……

On to the books………

Expat

Carol Drinkwater is an actress and writer.  One of her most remembered roles is Helen of All Creatures Great and Small.  I loved that series and the lovely scenery of Yorkshire but what I also love are her books about settling in France and her work with the olive trees on her property.  Olive groves near the Mediterranean have trees hundreds of years old.  When Carol first started exploring her property she found a gnarled tree and the mostly buried remains of a roman ceramic tiles.  This tree is most likely a thousand years old.  I loved reading about her experiences with learning to harvest olives, brushing up on the language so she was fluent, dealing with French laws and a property purchase and the culture.  If you like olives and old property, restoration and such, you may enjoy these books.

Tuscan

Frances Mayes’ book Under the Tuscan Sun was published 20 years ago – wow!  This book tells us how the American educator fell in love with Italy and her experiences with Italian law, property purchases, language challenges and more.  She bought an abandoned villa and with hard work (like Carol Drinkwater) she discovered faded frescos beneath the whitewash and an overgrown vineyard.  What a treasure.

The challenge of renovating a crumbling building would be a nightmare to someone like me but I’d sure love to face some of the other challenges.

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Sarah Turnbull is another writer, an Australian journalist who met a Frenchman while working in  Bucharest.   She uprooted herself from Australia and moved to France.  Her book Almost French describes her love/ hate relationship with Paris and
her real life experience with culture shock, learning the language and the day-to-day life style of living in a large cosmopolitan city.

If you dream of moving to another country and want to read about the problematic side as well as the rewards, these books may be right up your alley.   There are excellent chapters about the local food and cooking that were especially appealing to me.

Check out the host for week three,  Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness. and join in if you’d like.

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The Martian starring Matt Damon. A look at the movie and the book

food-n-flix-march-2017  A couple of years ago I read The Martian by Andy Weir.  My review (if you’d like to revisit it) is HERE.  Loved the book and will probably reread it again one day.

Well, as I was surfing around a few days ago I came across the movie being featured at Food ‘n Flix.  I knew I wanted to participate as that is one great movie.  Have you seen it?  So entertaining.

I must confess to liking the book a little bit more but the movie pretty much followed with the exception of the ending.  I wish they had spent more time with Watney traversing the craters, trying to get to his destination.  Also, the interactions with the crew were so much more detailed.

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But – I am not dissing this movie!  It was phenomenal.  Matt Damon was a perfect fit for the character Mark Watney and he played that role so well. Ridley Scott as director insured it would be a blockbuster.

After being left for dead Watney, being an engineer and scientist, looked at his situation pragmatically but also with humor.  I liked that – facing an almost certain death on Mars yet his smart ass personality still shines.

Watney:   “Actually, I was the very lowest ranked member of the crew. I would only be “in command” if I were the only remaining person.”
What do you know? I’m in command

Once NASA realizes he is alive they worry about his physical and mental well-being as they have no way to contact him.

He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.

And then you see what is going on with Watney:
LOG ENTRY: SOL 61 “How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.”

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I can’t wait till I have grandchildren. When I was younger, I had to walk to the rim of a crater. Uphill! In an EVA suit! On Mars, ya little shit! Ya hear me? Mars!

You have science, you have humor, compassion as well as respect for what he is dealing with in a way most people just couldn’t handle.  I would curl in a ball, rocking and hoping death wouldn’t be painful.  But I am not a botanist, an engineer or a NASA qualified astronaut.  Someone intelligent enough to break down a problem and , in Mark’s words, Science the shit out it!

This movie is an excellent choice for a Food ‘n Flix feature.  You may not think there is much in the way of food, except the potatoes of course.  But with the space packaged foods and the Thanksgiving feast included you will hear mentions of Beef Stroganoff, spaghetti, sweet and sour chicken and stew.  Ketchup is mentioned quite a bit too 🙂

On those lines I wanted to make something with a tomato base but not a spaghetti dish.  I’ve had lots of pasta on our menus lately.  Eggplant Parmesan was the dish I decided upon.  It uses a tomato based sauce so, that’s what I brought to the party.


(Recipe at the end)

I am going to try and link this to a new Facebook page I created. New to that business, so we will see, LOL 😬

This month’s hostess at Food ‘n Flix is Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. Her announcement post is HERE.  Join in if you’d like to watch the movie and conjure up an inspired meal.

Also linking up with Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking Series.

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Eggplant Parmesan
Grab the following………..

2 eggplants (aubergines)
Salt
Olive oil
Panko breadcrumbs
A beaten Egg and a little bit of milk
2 ½ cups homemade tomato sauce, lots of herbs included
1 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into thin slices
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Skin and slice the eggplants, about 1/4 inch slices. Place them in a collander, salt them, place more layers, salt them. Sit 30 minutes.

Rinse the slices, bread them with Lanka and fry them in oil for just a bit. Now layer your tomato sauce, eggplant slices, cheese and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Books, Beer and Cider

I’ve been able to get in bit of reading lately. But I have to say, the book I am anxiously awaiting is Diana Gabaldon’s last book in her Outlander series.

When I find a series of books I like and it’s one that has been out a while, I feel very fortunate. Why is that, you may ask? Well, when I picked up a second hand copy of Outlander and proceeded to get involved with the characters, I was happy to see there were already 4 books published in the series. Jamie, Claire and Dougal were like real people to me by book 4 (earlier, if truth be told) and I was quite invested in their stories and outcome. Now there is one more book to end the story line.

The title is WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD, the eighth and final book in this epic series. It’s scheduled out in March. Can’t wait!

Also waiting on George R.R. Martin to follow up on book five, Dance with Dragons, in his Fire and Ice series. Martin is evidently working on several books to make this story line complete. I want to know more about Daenerys and her dragons.

Have you read book 5? Wow, what an ending scene for her! I shall say no more………..He has left us hanging on so many story lines……..

Are there series you like reading and anticipate the next book being released?

Lately I finished Vanished: The Sixty-year Search for the Men of World War II which is about (as you may guess) a salvage mission for the remains of a group stationed in the Pacific Theater. It’s non-fiction, published by Riverhead Books, and a well told story. Actually, it’s several stories deftly woven in a sequence spanning a sixty year period. Good book, I will look for more by this author.

Also finished Dance with Dragons and I know I have mentioned Toast by Nigel Slater. Didn’t I? Maybe I mentioned that already.

Lastly…….the exploration of new ciders and ales may well have come to an end for me.

Fox Barrel Cider

I did not care for the pear cider (here below) and so now I know to stick with ciders I like. Bulmers, Strongbow and an occasional Woodchuck. Pear cider did not do it for me.

Also, this Banana Bread Beer was actually loaded into the shopping cart, put back out again, loaded again several times. It was $2.99 a bottle (cheaper by the six or 4 pack) but it seemed worth a shot.

Yeaaaaahhh…I am happy we have markets which allow you to mix up your purchases by the single bottle. It’s awful to purchase a 6 pack of something to discover after a few sips that you actually loathe the taste.

The banana bread beer was not awful. But it was not remarkable either. Hardly any carbonation and it reminded you of a cream soda. The terrible thing there is, you can tip it back too quickly and thus…have a bigger buzz than planned (or expected) in no time.

So, I shall be sticking with my favorites from here on until I get an adventurous spark again.

What have you all been reading and imbibing lately? Hope all is well in your world.