[spicy review] We Love Pizza by Elenia Beretta

Put on your bib, it’s pizza time!

Did you know there’s a brand new picture book celebrating our favorite cheesy, crusty, spicy, tomato-luscious food? Bet you’d love to wrap your lips around a warm, ooey gooey slice right this minute. 🙂

Elenia Beretta’s We Love Pizza: Everything you want to know about your number one food (Little Gestalten, 2021) opens with this savory poem:

THE WORLD'S FAVORITE FOOD

The world is full of people,
And people have to eat,
And if they had to choose a dish,
There’s one that’s hard to beat.

You make it and you bake it,
Or you buy it in a shop.
It can be soft or crunchy,
And have lots of things on top.

It’s simple but delicious --
That’s how it’s earned its fame.
Have you now guessed what it is?
Yes, PIZZA is its name!

This delectable introduction to the dish for pizza lovers of all ages is packed with fascinating tidbits sure to surprise and delight.

Where did pizza originate and how did it come to America? What are the different sizes and shapes of pizza? What exactly is a pizzeria and who are some of the people associated with it? How do you make your own pizza, and best of all, what kinds of toppings do people all over the world prefer?

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[mouthwatering review + recipe] The Fabulous Tale of Fish & Chips by Helaine Becker and Omer Hoffmann

“Fish ‘n’ chips!
Chips ‘n’ fish!
Such a crispy, tasty dish!”

It wasn’t until I moved to London in the late 70s that I tasted authentic fish ‘n’ chips for the first time.

Whether cod and chips from a neighborhood chippy, or a plate of divine lemon sole at Geale’s in Notting Hill, it was all so good. Nothing could compare to those golden brown fillets, fried up light and crispy in a beer batter, each crunchy bite yielding to tender, flaky fish inside. Is there any meal more quintessentially British?

Naturally, I assumed fish ‘n’ chips was invented by an Englishman. But after reading The Fabulous Tale of Fish & Chips by Helaine Becker and Omer Hoffmann (Green Bean Books, 2021), I surprisingly learned it was a Jewish immigrant named Joseph Malin who opened the very first fish ‘n’ chips shop in the UK. Established in 1860, Malin’s of Bow in London’s East End remained in operation for over a century. Now that’s a lot of fish and taters!

In her flavorful fishtory, Becker surmises how fish met chips to become “one of the greatest and most popular dishes of all time.”

Young Joseph Malin loves everything about fish — catching, selling, and especially, eating it. Though his entire family works from dawn to dusk in their fish shop, they struggle to make ends meet. 

One day Joseph has a brilliant idea — what if they try to sell cooked instead of raw fish? After all, he loves his grandmother’s delicious fried fish — a special family recipe handed down through several generations. Her secret is coating the fish in flour, dipping it in beaten egg, then coating it with matzoh meal before frying it in hot oil. 

Because of its crispy crust, the fried fish is just as tasty the next day when families like Joseph’s, who are forbidden to cook on the Sabbath, can eat it cold.

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[tasty review + recipe] Be More Vegan by Niki Webster

Whether you’re hoping to go full-tilt vegan, thinking about trying something new, or are just looking to cut back on meat and dairy, Niki Webster’s Be More Vegan: The Young Person’s Guide to Going (A Bit More) Plant-Based! (Welbeck, 2021) is the book for you.

The “young person” in the title suggests this book is just for teens, but adults will also find much to love in this upbeat introductory guide. Webster, a certified holistic health coach, food consultant, and acclaimed vegan food blogger, establishes from the outset that veganism doesn’t necessarily have to be an all-or- nothing choice. Being “more vegan” — regardless of how you choose to define “more” — is a positive step towards personal well being, animal welfare and a thriving planet.

Niki Webster photo by Katie Palmer Photography

The book opens with Webster introducing herself and explaining why she’s a vegan. As a child, she didn’t like meat and refused to eat it. She just felt eating animals was wrong. After developing a milk intolerance, her “fussy eater” diet became even more restrictive, so in her teens she began cooking for herself, experimenting with and discovering foods she liked to eat.

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[review + giveaway] For Every Little Thing: Poems and Prayers to Celebrate the Day

“Everything in nature is a wonderful miracle!/Isn’t the little bird flying through the big sky a miracle?” ~ Amma

Walk barefoot in the sand and curl your toes in the water. Listen to the “winging, singing, whispery sounds” of earth’s creatures. Marvel at a ballet of butterflies, a sky full of stars. Feel the cool air after a fresh rain.

For Every Little Thing: Poems and Prayers to Celebrate the Day (Eerdmans BFYR, 2021), is a joyous love letter to the world and all we hold dear within it, truly a wonderful way to acknowledge nature’s vast bounty of gifts as well as the friends and family who sustain us.

With about 70 child friendly selections carefully curated by June Cotner and Nancy Tupper Ling, this beautifully illustrated inspirational anthology features 51 diverse voices affirming the spiritual rewards of being present and expressing gratitude for wonders large and small.

Young readers are treated to untold delights from morning to night — ordinary moments throughout the day that happily and surprisingly warrant celebration. 

How marvelous to wake up with sloppy puppy kisses, greet the sun that’s bouncing on the bedroom wall like a yellow beach ball, and feel God’s presence everywhere, especially within ourselves. It’s empowering to know that as we experience the world through our own personal lenses, we’re validating our place in it.

MY BEAUTIFUL DAY
by Marion Schoeberlein

I borrowed a poem from the sky,
and music from a bird,
I stole a chime out of the wind,
and from the rose a word,
I borrowed a song from the hills,
a psalm from the silver rain,
I took the footsteps of angels
out of a cobbled lane,
from each little thing I fashioned
something in my own way,
with God's help I put in my heart
a wonderful, beautiful day!

Simple, accessible language and an abundance of sensory details engage readers throughout the book, encouraging them to slow down, look closer, savor, and appreciate. Whether a charming two-line snippet of wisdom or a lyrical five stanza blessing, there’s a welcome positivity and reassurance in the soul nourishing words.

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[tasty review + giveaway] Niki Nakayama: A Chef’s Tale in 13 Bites by Jamie Michalak, Debbi Michiko Florence and Yuko Jones

Even before I took my first bite of this delectable new picture book, I was in love. Just look at that cover! Yuko Jones’s appealing depiction of young Niki had me grinning and giddy with anticipation. I immediately wanted to know more about her. So much joy, spunk, and pride in that adorable face — I could just eat her up!

I was not familiar with Chef Niki before reading Niki Nakayama: A Chef’s Tale in 13 Bites by Jamie Michalak and Debbi Michiko Florence (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021). A pioneer of modern Japanese kaiseki cuisine, she founded the upscale Michelin two star restaurant n/naka in Los Angeles. In the decade since its opening in 2011, n/naka has risen to national prominence as the most celebrated kaiseki restaurant outside Japan.

Master Kaiseki Chef Niki Nakayama

This beautifully written, inspiring book shows how Nakayama defied expectations throughout her life, never giving up on her dream to chart her own destiny in a profession still dominated by men.

via n-naka.com

What is kaiseki? Considered the pinnacle of Japanese haute cuisine, it’s a traditional culinary art form consisting of an exquisitely presented multicourse meal prepared with locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. Courses follow a specific sequence balancing the taste, texture, appearance, and colors of food, thereby creating a singular story embodying the chef’s essence.

via n-naka.com
via n-naka.com

What makes the cuisine at n/naka unique is how Chef Niki has integrated her Japanese and American heritage and upbringing in Southern California within the template of traditional kaiseki. Just as her meals consist of 13 courses, Jamie and Debbi chose to tell her story in 13 scrumptious bites.

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