Monthly Archives: November 2019

A passionate look at the world of cruising

The Joy of Cruising: Passionate Cruising, Fascinating Stories, by Paul C. Thornton. BookBaby. 363 pages.  Trade paperback $16.99.

Fort Myers resident Thornton has provided a most tasty smorgasbord of information, cruise world personalities, and stories in this high-energy, encyclopedic presentation. Seasoned cruisers will remember their experience and be fire up for more. Newcomers and cruise wannabes will gasp at the variety of cruise possibilities and use the author as their friendly, knowledgeable, and fully addicted guide to decision-making. 

This book is truly a labor of love, but it is also a collection of good sense, acute observations, colorful vignettes about colorful cruisers, cruise entrepreneurs, and widely followed cruise journalists. You can call your travel agent or visit a cruise line website to book a cruise vacation that meets your needs, but you need Thornton’s book to get a more rounded picture of cruise life in all its glory.

 

Many capsule biographies of dedicated cruisers, people who have traveled afloat over and over again for decades and still have news sailings awaiting, demonstrate how large and rewarding a part of one’s life (alone or with friends and family) the cruising dimension can become. These are “ordinary” people who have found a special, rewarding richness in shipboard travel and its access to other parts of the world that they would otherwise not get to know. On a ship, however, getting there is at least half the fun. Today’s ships more and more are destinations in themselves. One can have a fine time with no itinerary to follow.

Paul Thornton’s experiences make it clear that cruising can enlarge your life by enlarging your circle of friends and acquaintances. Cruises provide great opportunities to get extended families in touch without anyone needing to wait on the others. Trips bringing three or more generations together provide deeper bonding and numerous stories for future retelling.

Do you suspect that cruisers are an unacknowledged cult? What puts that gleam in their eyes?

The answer is: sub-cults!

The latter sections of the book clarify this concept. One of these has to do with the burgeoning careers, status, and utility of cruise bloggers. These journalists use the internet to spread cruise news, tips, and visions of the directions that the cruise industry is taking. Many have a large audience, devoted followers, and even ways of making some money for their journalistic enterprise.  . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the November 13, 2019 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the November 14  Naples, Bonita Springs, Charlotte County, and Palm Beach editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Joy of Cruising

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Jewish recipes and food lore featured at 5th Annual Greater Naples Jewish Book Festival luncheon

Review by Philip K. Jason

The 100 Most Jewish Foods: A Highly Debatable List, by Alana Newhouse. Artisan Books. 256 pages. Hardcover $24.95.

The alphabet never tasted so good.

A huge and dazzling array of contributors brings to life what would seem to be an impossible task: a plausible gathering of what’s “most Jewish” in the palates of Jews across time, space and memory. The contributors are at once erudite and down to earth. Author Alana Newhouse gives them brief but impressive identification at the end of the book so that readers can connect their perspectives to their credentials.

Readers will chuckle at the book’s table of contents. It provides a delightful visual image as an identifier for each selection, in which these same images reappear. They exist to make us hungry. 

The format is basically a mini-essay followed by a recipe. So, we travel and gorge from adafina (a Sabbath stew) to Yemenite soup, with the expected and plenty of surprises along the way.

Just where it needs to be is the apple, given a personality by Dan Barber, who plays the part well, complaining about being blamed for Eve’s lack of discipline but then boasting about having flourished all over the world. The apple’s journey is a guilt trip. Apple cake becomes the choice for instruction.

The recipes share a professionally structured style that readers will find efficient without being overly formal. Measurements are given in the vernaculars, so the reader will always know such things as: a half cup of sugar is 65 grams. Chocolate Babka immediately caught my attention, but I plan to get my babka by giving a copy of the book, properly bookmarked, to a good friend who bakes.

Okay, so you’d expect a section on bagels, but don’t tell me you anticipated Bazooka gum. Bialys are another must, as are black-and-white cookies, blintzes and maybe bokser. And borscht is inevitable, with this section offering a brief essay on “The secrets of Soviet cuisine.”

The section on brisket is best read overnight.

“C” is for carciofi all giudia (artichoke Jewish-style). “C” is also for challah, charoset and cheesecake – AND chicken. Yes, there is a section on Chinese food that explains in detail “Why Jews Eat Chinese Food on Christmas.” The mysteries of cholent and chopped liver come next, laced with both wisdom and humor. Chopped liver? Of course. And there is a lot more to the (pardon the pun) c-section.

I have to speed up now: dates, deli, dill; eggplant, Entenmann’s, eyerleckh; flanken; gefilte fish, goose and the wished-for gribenes; halva, hamantaschen, haminados and Hebrew National hot dogs.

Alana Newhouse credit Michelle Ishay

 

Let me depart from the alphabet now and address some other charms of this “most Jewish” book.

Many of the contributors are notable writers, or at least darn good ones. Often, they take the opportunity to personalize their entries with memories of family gatherings, holidays and lifecycle events at which Jewish food is not the theme, but somehow the bonding agent. We can trace how a recipe was introduced, passed along to others, sometimes modified, but always linking the generations – just like Hebrew school, but usually with greater impact.

These personal stories that link the food with the occasion and the family are sometimes humorous, but always moving and inviting.

There is a surprising and welcome inclusiveness in the scope of the recipes. A favorite of Tunisian Jews, Pkaila, is one of the surprises. Adafina is from the Iberian world, and Haminados are among the Sephardic tastes readers are lured to sample. Jews from the Republic of Georgia indulged themselves with Labda, which also has a connection with Persian cuisine. Jews in India enjoy Malida at the Seder table. Treatments of matzo are manifold. One of these is the Sephardic Mina de Matzo. And you don’t want to miss trying Mufleta, Persian rice and Ptcha – foods with various origins across the Jewish world. Tsimmes, of course, is universally familiar.

Well, the person who put all this together, New Yorker Alana Newhouse, is the editor-in-chief of Tablet, a daily online magazine with a huge following. Founded in 2009, it features Jewish news, ideas and culture. A graduate of Barnard Collage and Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, Newhouse has contributed to The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and Slate.

On Monday, December 2 at 11:30 a.m. at the Hilton Naples, Alana Newhouse will be speaking at a Greater Naples Jewish Book Festival luncheon. The book will be available for sale and signing. Find details about the complete festival series of events, along with a ticket order form, author bios, book descriptions and sponsor information in section B of this issue or at http://www.jewishbookfestival.org. Need an answer fast? Send an email to fedstar18@gmail.com or call the Federation office at 239.263.4205.

This article appears in the November 2019 Federation Star (Jewish Federation of Greater Naples)

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