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“I think of myself as a poet first and a musician second. I live like a poet and I’ll die like a poet.” (Bob Dylan)

Just as he’s done for more than five decades, Bob Dylan is still releasing new albums (the latest is “Shadows in the Night,” a mellow collection of standards recorded live with his five-piece band), performing around the world with his Never Ending Tour, and receiving more honors and accolades (2015 MusiCares Person of the Year).

To promote “Shadows in the Night” he gave only one interview — to AARP Magazine, where he discussed his creative process and influences, revealing that he’s a big Shakespeare fan, and had he not become “Bob Dylan,” he would have liked to have been “a schoolteacher of Roman history or theology.”

When receiving his MusiCares award, he delivered a riveting acceptance speech crediting his sources of inspiration, thanking his various and sundry supporters, and even confronting his detractors. To those who would criticize his singing voice, he reminded them of what Sam Cooke said when told he had a beautiful voice:

Well that’s very kind of you, but voices ought not to be measured by how pretty they are. Instead they matter only if they convince you that they are telling the truth.

The voice of our generation — plain, real, everyman — endures. We need to hear and will always value the hard truths good poets tell.

Enjoy this bountiful three-course feast honoring Bob, who’ll turn 74 on Sunday, May 24. :)

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Bonjour!

A few tasty tidbits to make your week:

1. Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, Charlotte Charlotte Charlotte! How much do we love the new royal baby? She seems perfect in every way, doesn’t she?

And what better way to mark this special occasion than with a sweet mug from Emma Bridgewater? :) You can pre-order this little beauty now for shipping later this month (U.S. residents can get free shipping from Joanne Hudson).

Here’s the other side:

You know you want one. :)

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2. Nothing I like more than a chewy, flavorful foodie book roundup. Check out Anne Schamberg’s delectable post from the Journal Sentinel featuring 11 new titles. I’ve reviewed several of the books here at Alphabet Soup (A Fine Dessert, Gingerbread for Liberty!, Kids Cook French, Lidia’s Egg-Citing Farm Adventure). Can’t wait to read the others. Anne has also included five recipes. Yum!

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3. Recently, readers of the News & Observer were asked to share stories of their favorite kitchen heirlooms. They sent in photos of old cookie cutters, whisks, scales, and other cooking and baking tools, and talked about the history behind them. So interesting to read about what foods were made with these objects, who made them, and how they were shared. Thanks to Melodye Shore for the link!

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4. Guess what just came out on DVD?! Hooray for Paddington! In case you missed seeing the film this past winter, or if, like me, you want to watch it again and again, grab a copy soon. Make a pile of marmalade sandwiches to munch on while you watch. Did you know they’ve already started working on the sequel? :)

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5. How about 15 Places for Afternoon Tea You Must Visit Before You Die? Thus far I haven’t been to any of these places — frankly, some of them feel a little too posh for my tastes, but I could see myself at Cinnamon Soho, Drink Shop & Do, or the Betty Blythe Vintage Tearoom. The Berkeley and Bake-a-boo look like fun too!

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6. Mmmmm, how about “8 Fictional Chefs Whom We’d Like to Sit Down and Have a Meal With?” Nothing better than a piece of fiction that makes your mouth water. Invite me to Mrs. Weasley’s, of course I’d love to visit Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, and Calpurnia’s cracklin’ bread from To Kill a Mockingbird sounds divine!

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7. When things feel a little too frenetic and you need a nice break from it all, nothing better than a lovely British fix! Great British Bake-Off finalist and cookbook author Miranda Gore Browne makes Milk and Blackberry Bunny Cakes inspired by Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Every word spoken with a British accent sounds so much better, doesn’t it? All’s right with the world. Love this charming video!

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Oh, a hummingbird just greeted me at the window!

It’s going to be a good day!

Happy Tuesday!

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Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

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Ohayoo gozaimasu! Good Morning!

Please help yourself to a nice warm cup of Genmaicha (green tea with brown rice) and a piece of chi chi dango mochi. I remember many a time when my mother made a pot of Genmaicha after a good meal — a soothing way to cleanse the palate and set the stage for some lively ‘talk story.’

A couple of weeks ago, I searched Lee and Low’s website for books I hadn’t yet read and found the perfect picture book to share for Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. Cool Melons — Turn to Frogs!: The Life and Poems of Issa by Matthew Gollub and Kazuko G. Stone was first published in 1998, so many of you are probably already familiar with it. How did I miss it? I’m so glad I finally read it, as now it’s one of my favorite haiku picture books ever.

Issa wrote this haiku when he was just six years old.

I love how every aspect of this book embodies the essence of haiku — its complex simplicity, beauty, elegance, and ability to open the eyes, refresh the mind, and inspire contemplation.

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I’m doubly excited to welcome Baltimore-based author Erin Hagar to Alphabet Soup: her very first published children’s book hits shelves today, and it’s about one of my favorite people, Julia Child!

Though there have been several good picture books about Julia published in recent years,  solidly researched middle grade biographies about her are few and far between. Not only is Julia Child: An Extraordinary Life in Words and Pictures (DuoPress, 2015) a lively, engaging read, it contains six beautiful full-page watercolor illustration sequences by Joanna Gorham interspersed between chapters.

Erin traces Julia’s life from her childhood as a fun-loving prankster in Pasadena to her death in 2004 as a much beloved cookbook author, teacher, and television celebrity. We read about how Julia met and fell in love with Paul Child while working overseas for the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), how when they moved to France Julia discovers her life’s passion and attends Le Cordon Bleu, how she started a cooking school and collaborated on Mastering the Art of French Cooking with Simone Beck Fischbacher and Louisette Bertholle, and finally, how she launched her television career on WGBH Boston.

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Just in time for growing season, here’s a brand new anthology that serves up a delectable cornucopia of poems celebrating the food we eat and where it comes from.

Edited by Canadian poet Carol-Ann Hoyte, Dear Tomato: An International Crop of Food and Agriculture Poems (CreateSpace, 2015), contains over fifty verses by thirty-four poets from seven countries, with fetching black-and-white photographs by Norie Wasserman. Along with praise for the hardworking farmer, the global menu offers much food for thought with topics such as composting, urban gardening, food activism, vegetarianism, honeybee collapse disorder, free-range vs. caged hens, food banks and fair trade.

Kids 8-12 will enjoy the tasty assortment of poetic forms, styles, points-of-view and flavors of emotion, from light-hearted to reverent to joyous to pensive. They will delight in J. Patrick Lewis’s dancing mushrooms, Ken Slesarik’s nude root veggies, and Cindy Breedlove’s and Conrad Burdekin’s diatribes against peas. They will likely find April Halprin Wayland’s personal narratives about picking figs or buying a frog at a farmers market fascinating, and thanks to Matt Forrest Esenwine, Buffy Silverman and Frances Hern, think about familiar foods like pumpkins, corn, squash, beans, and peaches in new ways.

I was happy to see nine Poetry Friday friends in the line-up and be introduced to many new poets, three of whom I’m featuring today. Philippa Rae rhapsodizes about her favorite vegetable, Helen Kemp Zax extols the wonders of the farmers market, and Matt Goodfellow’s lyrical farmer’s song exalts the agrarian lifestyle upon which we all depend. I think their poems will give you a nice taste of the delightfully different voices and styles included in this toothsome collection.

I thank Philippa, Helen and Matt for allowing me to post their poems, for providing a little backstory about writing them, and for sharing recipes and food notes. Grab your forks and enjoy the feast!

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