Literary & Recording Arts
December 21, 2019
A deeply moving, succinct record of John Cage and Merce Cunningham's partnership filters out of the modest 156 page book Love, Icebox with a Foreward, Commentary and Afterword by Laura Kuhn. Known as the titans of the avant-garde music and modern dance movement in America, these two men found inspiration and companionship in each other.

Ms. Kuhn provides a clear historic context for the cherished letters, or better, compact poems of desire and doubt. Basically the letters stretch from 1942 - 1946, a time of chaos when Europe and America fought back Nazism in World War II. Actually, Merce and John crossed paths four years earlier at the Cornish School in Seattle.

Of course, this being John and Merce, creativity infuses the letters like the one pictured from 1944. Cut in various places like a jig-saw puzzle it's typewritten both vertically and horizontally. Although it resembles a ransom note, the content is all passion: "today is beautiful and I am dreaming of you and enigma and how we are together today: your words in my ears making (me) limp and taught by turns in delight. oh, I am sure we could use each other today."

There are times when the poems exude the fragrance of the long ago brilliant ancient Greek poet, Sappho. Her stangzas were short, and pointed, infused with intense emotions but kept perfectly erect inside the word.

There are so many gems poured into this book, it is difficult to put it down. It's something one might read every morning for inspiration or at night for transcendence.

Even if John Cage and Merce Cunningham mean nothing to you, this book will surely touch your soul and inspire you to seek them out.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

December 20, 2019
The Scentual Garden by Ken Druse is a lavish book that serves as a travel guide through the many fragrances dressing up gardens. Divided into sections like "Why Plants Smell," "Capturing Scent," and "An Encyclopedia of Fragrant Plants" the reader browses through ancient and contemporary applications.

Lifelike botanical photographs by Ellen Hoverkamp and Druse's garden photographs complement the fascinating text. On the simpler end of the spectrum, one can capture a flowers' fragrances most easily by simply cutting and placing in a vase. Otherwise, ancient forumlas include steeping flowers in oil and bottling it for future fragrance elation.

Even simple herbs like thyme and sage are lovingly described as carriers of heady odors pressed under the heat of the sun. At night, when you want to pull away from all those pesty electronics, The Scentful Garden will relax the mind and excite the

EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

December 20, 2019
Pasta Grannies by Vicky Bennison is one of those heart-warming books that light up the appetite with straight-forward but inventive recipes framed by charming stories describing the the women behind the recipes, their homes and villages.

Although the idea of making one's own pasta might seem daunting, the down-to earth manner in which the information is presented makes all the receipts feel imminently doable.

Violetta's Maccheroni With Kid Ragu is a play on the usual macaroni and red beef sauce dish. Only this employs kid or lamb in place of beef that imparts a much more flavorful taste. Most ingredients are easy to score, but many of the pastas require semolina flour which now-a-days is easily found on any grocery store shelf.

Interestingly, many of the pasta recipes do not require a fancy past machine. Your hands become your most important implement. Inside the book is a stand-alone pamphlet that introduces all the talented nonne (grandmothers) describing their villages, habits, families, homes and love of food.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

December 20, 2019
Lateral Cooking by Niki Segnit basically describes the building blocks of recipes. There are detailed steps on how to make buttermilk from milk (how many times have you started a recipe only to find you have no buttermilk--here's the rescue) and rather than listing the ingredients on the side or at the top, they are embedded inside the conversational recipe.

The book is divided into sections like Batter, Roux, Stock, Soup & Stew, Custard, Pastry or Sauce--among others. Now within these categories recipes for vegetables and meat and fish abound. There's one fascinating recipe that answers the question "what does one do with asparagus stalk ends?" Well, the milk infused with woody ends is used as a base for asparagus croquettes.

Basically, the book came about as a response to those marvelous cooks who stand over a stove and cook from memory and instinct. Not that culinary instinct can be taught, but at least, if the basic building blocks of flavor and texture are understood, the recipe emerges tantalizingly alive.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

August 6, 2019
Virtual reality really is. Between the traditions being created by artists; Neuromancer (novel by William Gibson), Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson), the Matrix series (feature films by the Wachowski brothers), Avatar (James Cameron); and the *real* virtual realities like Second Life®, Sansar®, High Fidelity®; and even the melding of the two, like the two CSI:NY shows set in Second Life; virtual reality is here... real engagement... real economy... a real culture. So a new offering that contributes to this growing experience is highly anticipated.

Sadly, Bluefall is a disappointment. While the art work is a wonderful example of great graphic novel work... some of the full page prints are beautiful, the structure of the novel is non-existent. According to a blurb, it involves the murder of the largest virtual reality platform owner, controlling a vast economy (which in itself is very plausible!). But once we are introduced to the framework concept of the drama on the first two pages, followed by a confusing introduction to the protagonist on the next few, we are tossed into a mind-bending sequence of disconnected vignettes bearing little relation to each other.

Characters are introduced with no obvious connection to anything, and there is no clear identification as to which reality the action is happening in. I thought perhaps the author was channeling James Joyce (Ulysses)... maybe he was, but I didn't experience the ultimate catharsis.

Indeed, no catharsis at all, because without warning, not mentioned anywhere in any of the promotion, the last frame arrives with the message, "To Be Continued".

Sadly, this book went nowhere. I'll happily keep it on the shelf for the fine graphic art, but there's nothing here that contributes to the incredible depth of human experience to be found in virtual reality.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jeff Bush

TASTE & TECHNIQUE: Holiday Book List
December 29, 2016
A lively description of culinary methods and timing takes the mystery out of the kitchen in this easily readable cookbook. Raised in a family of foodies, Ms. Pomeroy holds food in high regard, but also sees it as a daily event that climb great heights in flavor with small tweaks.

Divided into sections that feature sauces, and pantry items as well as the usual starters, seafood, vegetables and lamb. Openly spaced writing makes the reading a pleasure as do the photographs by Mr. Feldman, but stars are the straight-ahead. but detailed recipes.

For the more adventurous cook, there are recipes like Creme Fraiche Tarts that carry everything from dried tomatoes and carmelized onions to Spring Pea Relish and fried Sage or the essential Demi-Glace.

But not everything requires time and concentration, because there's Quick Sauteed Greens with Garlic, Lemon Confit, and Chile Flakes that sparkles with the touch of heat; Porcini Braised Chicken Thighs exuding a woody perfume; plus a creamy Butter-Poached Halibut.

In a nod to Ms. Pomeroy's roots in French cooking, there's a series of souffles. Sweets and savory items share space featuring Apricot-Brown Butter Tart or Oat Thyme Crackers. At the end, there's a critical list of kitchen equipment and descriptions of culinary techniques. A great kitchen companion.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

FOOD52: Holiday Book List
December 24, 2016
Simplifying the act of cooking sophisticated, but simple meals powers the new cookbook Food52: A New Way to Dinner--a playbook of recipes and strategies for the week ahead. Might sound like a football or basketball game plan, and in a way it is because chapters lay out food plans for the week. Now this might sound like assembly-line eating, but trust me, it's not.

To stay out of the "cooking rut" one recipe gets several outfits like "Farro with Mustard Greens, Almonds, Currants, and Shaved Cheese arrives as a main course one day and the next it becomes part of a ham and butter sandwich.Recipes come with little reminders like chopping all the onions at once that might be used in two dishes. Cleaning while you work allows you to re-use pots as a way of minimizing mess and blanch vegetables for added freshness while keeping stored in the the frig.

Sections are divided by seasons so there's Sprig, Summer, Fall, and Winter. One fabulous recipe for those carnivores is the "Overnight Roast Pork" that requires the meat to slow cook in a 200 degree oven for up to 10 hours. Then viola! Succulent pork. And for dessert there's a moist Chocolate Olive Oil Cake or sparkling Blueberry Ice. Put this book on your shelf.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

BREAKING BREADS: Holiday Book List
December 20, 2016
For those who live in NYC, Breads Bakery at Union Square is a hive of activity. People rush in and out with Babkas and loaves, flatbreads and challahs. Now this very successful enterprise has produced a book by Uri Scheft, the master baker behind the outposts in Tel Aviv and NYC.

Out in time for any winter holiday, "Breaking Breads: A New World of Israeli Baking" Born to Danish parents in Israel, Scheft meshes two and actually more bread cuisine in the crafting of his tasty accomplishments.

Clearly divided into sections that range from Challha and Babkas to cookies and flatbreads, when you flip the pages to the "Stuffed Bread" section, fruits and vegetables appear.

There's a "Beet Hamantaschen" that uses a pie dough filled with a beet and feta mixutre. Somehow, it looks like something that's both tasty and good for you. Another savory section fills the Focaccias that sport spinach, or onions, zucchini flowers, eggs and peas.

In the crucial bread recipes, there's a whole wheat and flax challah that incorporates red quinoa (a grain and protein source), and flaxseeds along with the whole wheat and all-purpose flour. Ingredients are clearly listed in grams and ounces. Each action is numbered. That helps keeping track of the steps. Most importantly the clear, friendly instructions lead to a marvelous loaf of bread.

If you are hungry, I suggest you do not open this book, because the full-page photographs by Con Poulos will make you drool.
It's always a pleasure to read a cookbook that's actually written for regular cooks who like to experiment and appreciate a casual, warm writing style that makes everyone believe they can be a master baker.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

TASTE OF PERSIA: Holiday Book List
December 20, 2016
Known for their exquisite cuisine and literary tradition, Persia -- comprised of people from Iraq and Afghanistan--come to life through the pages of "Taste of Persia" by Naomi Duguid. A James Beard Award-winning culinary anthropologist and photographer, issues over 125 recipes accented by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Krudistan.

The introduction delivers an overview of the Persian geographic bowl along with traditional spices and rituals.Although there are plenty of meat, chicken and fish dishes, any vegetarian would be happy to indulge in this richly photographed book.

Pulling many of the recipes directly from the cooks, the ingredients are primarily dictated in ounces and common sense. Little is left out helping the reader move easily from one step to the next. Unexceptional tools are used like the backs of spoons, sieves, and she always describes the type of plate--whether it's a bowl, large platter, thin rimmed plate, or saucer.

A Persan Pebble Bread is rich in sesame seed and mixed flours is stretched like a sheet dented by fingertips and snipped. Requires a large table or bare, protected floor.

Tastes of the mideast abound in recipes like "Rose Water Pudding, "Pomegranate Molasses," "Emmer Mushroom Pilar" (this recipes abounds in mushrooms, emmer wheat berries, broth, fragrant tarragon and option chopped meats topped by yogurt. Topping cooked rice and grain dishes with a thick, plain yogurt is quite common in the mideast.

In the soup section, Purslane Soup mixes lentils and that twisty green weeds found in one's garden with the traditional tumeric and cumin. Again, this cuisine combines dried fruits like apricots with beans and meats.It's not uncommon to find a dish that tosses in potatoes, beans and wheat berries or grains.

As you peruse the book, pictures of the cities and markets meet the recipes adding a sense of time, place and people.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

©2001 Eye and Dance and the Arts | All Rights Reserved