Cheryl Tan is a New York-based writer with experience as a staff writer at the Wall Street Journal, In Style magazine and the Baltimore Sun. Her stories have also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Marie Claire, Every Day With Rachael Ray, Family Circle, Bloomberg Businessweek, Chicago Tribune, The (Portland) Oregonian, The (Topeka) Capital-Journal, The (Singapore) Straits Times and Elle.com. She is also a regular contributor to The Atlantic Food Channel. I've been following Cheryl on Twitter where she mentions her travels, her work, and where she organized the Let's Lunch group that always cooks up great things with a given theme. You can check on what Cheryl has cooked lately on her food blog as well. Last spring and also last December, Cheryl was an artist in residence at the Yaddo artists' colony, where she was working on her memoir. That memoir, A Tiger in the Kitchen, will be released tomorrow February 8, and it tells the story of how she discovered her Singaporean family by learning to cook with them. I knew I'd hear some good recommendations when I asked Cheryl, what are you reading?
I have a big stack of books I've been dipping in and out of recently--these are a few:
The Oysters of Locmariaquer by Eleanor Clark
I'm in love with this book -- it's a wonderful narrative about a little town in Brittany, France, where the famous Belon oysters are cultivated. You learn about the people, the stories, the history of these oysters -- I adore travel narratives that share the tales behind what's on your plate. Clark won the 1964 National Book Award for this work -- a great achievement for a food narrative.
Alice, Let's Eat by Calvin Trillin
Trillin is one of my absolute favorite writers -- so insightful, so funny, always spot on. I'm enjoying reading about his eating journey in America and Europe with his wife, Alice, by his side. I always come away from reading his pieces and books -- Travels With Alice is another favorite -- feeling like I've been there, sitting at that table elbow to elbow right next to them. The best travel writing does that for you.
Travels With Barley: A Journey Through Beer Culture in America by Ken Wells
Ken Wells is one of the most engaging writers I know and his appetite for life really comes across in this book -- it's a hugely entertaining account of his journey across America, following the Mississippi River from Minnesota to Louisiana, talking to beer makers, drinkers and experts. (While drinking some beer, of course.) I'm not a huge beer drinker but I'm enjoying learning about beer culture and lore in the U.S. -- and I now want to see the World's Largest Six-Pack in Lacrosse, Wisconsin!
The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry
This is just an enchanting book about a detective who enters the dreams of a murdered man in order to solve a crime. The writing is lovely and filled with charming little details -- I was hooked from the moment I saw the word "umbrellist" used to describe the protagonist on the first page. I recently met Jedediah Berry at Yaddo, an artists' colony in upstate New York, where we were both working on our books. He's an unusual, fascinating guy, which made me really want to read his book -- which, just like Jed, is turning out to be a real treat so far.
The Sweet Spot: Asian-Inspired Desserts by Pichet Ong
Having just celebrated Chinese new year, I have Asian cookies and sweets on my mind. It's always around this time of year that I pull out Pichet Ong's The Sweet Spot and leaf through it, looking for treats to make to celebrate the lunar new year. It's hands down the best book on Asian desserts out there -- there are some recipes for traditional favorites of mine (mango sticky rice, fried bananas) as well as modern desserts he's created. I love that he uses ingredients like Horlicks (the British malted milk drink) and kumquats that you don't often see in American desserts. My favorite recipe in there, though, is his lemongrass frozen yogurt recipe -- it's incredibly easy and makes for a refreshing end to any meal. My guests always love it when I pull that out of the freezer for dessert.
Thank you for participating, Cheryl. Check back to see who answers the question next time and what other books are recommended.
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