Right after the holiday season, with the pressures and chaos of the day melting away, there is an attempt to return to normalcy, or what passes for normalcy in an abnormal place.
For many of us, and you really should admit this, you often received useless, maybe even irritating, gifts from co-workers, friends and relatives. Your immediate thought on opening the item was, “Oh, gosh, they really don’t know me very well.” But your second reaction is to think about re-gifting the offending item, saving you money on future gift purchases and holding your emotions in check as to what the giver thinks of you and your lifestyle.
But lemonade is within reach from the lemons you have been handed. Right now, we have enjoyed the release of many books mostly focusing on our lifestyle, our history and our heritage. These are books maybe you would not purchase for yourself and yet, here is an opportunity to take the gift set of plaid face towels with the matching loofah cloth and turn them into something you will truly enjoy.
"A Drinkable Feast – A Cocktail Companion to 1920’s Paris"
By Philip Greene
Philip Greene’s ties to New Orleans include being a distant relation of Antoine Peychaud of Bitters fame. Greene has already earned favored status in the cocktail world with his exhaustive study of the cocktails of Ernest Hemingway. Now he travels to what many consider the Golden Age of Cocktails, the 1920’s, and the center of the culture, Paris. The stories of the time and place are told through the drinks. History never tasted so good, or made you want to go back so badly.
"The Cocktail Companion – A Guide to Cocktail History, Culture, Trivia and Favorite Drinks"
By Cheryl Charming
This is Ms. Charming’s 16th penned volume, and no finer practitioner of the art of mixology exists. Fortunately for us, she exists as manager of the Bourbon O Lounge in the Bourbon Orleans Hotel in the heart of the French Quarter. With this volume, she has outshone herself as a talented barkeep and a thorough historical researcher. Every page is crammed full of facts, stories, timelines, recipes, and tales of deeds, often evil.
"City of a Million Dreams – A History of New Orleans at Year 300"
By Jason Berry
For many readers books about history and non-fiction do not offer enough drama. As we all know, this city is nothing but about drama. Jason Berry, a contributor to New Orleans Magazine, takes the many stories and characters from 300 years of experience and breaks them down into small bites. Every tale reveals our history and then provides insights as to why we are the way we are, and why no one else is like this. Highly entertaining.
"Entertaining Effortlessly – Gift Deliciously"
By Yvette Jemison
French Quarter resident Yvette Jemison takes the pressure from entertaining and makes it all seem so easy. Every page of this gorgeous volume shows the final product adjacent to the recipe and serving preparation. These smaller nibbles are not just ideal to serve guests, they double as food gifts, literally culinary works of art no one else is going to provide. Prepare for the oohs and aahs of appreciative recipients.
"Pascal’s Manale Cookbook – A Family Tradition"
By Poppy Tooker
Local author and radio show host Poppy Tooker has just released this volume about the storied restaurant on Napoleon Avenue. Five generations and more then 100 years of food service and dish creation. In many instances if you visited years ago and then return, looking for change is futile. But it’s the consistency and the quality that keeps us coming back. The story is well-told in the hands of this talented storyteller.
"Chasing the Gator: Isaac Toups and the New Cajun Cooking"
With two restaurants in town, and full-on international television appearances, Chef Toups has built a following for his message. He is passionate, talented and creative. This book defines aspects of Toups that none of those previous ventures featured. A very talented man who follows no one’s’ drummer but his own.
These volumes are available at independent bookstores locally, big chain bookstores, and through Amazon. Since the authors of these books are all local, except Greene, the authors are only too happy to sign the volumes for you. Ask at the store from which you purchased the book.
Read Happy Hour here on myneworleans.com on Wednesdays, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed, as well as stored (podcast), at www.wgso.com. Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature about cocktails in New Orleans, every month in New Orleans Magazine.