Sunday, April 27, 2008
I don't know what possessed me, but I decided to make salmon last night, actually I do know - it was Jake's plea for recipes for graduate and medical school students. He had numerous responders, including myself, offering their supposedly inexpensive and quick recipes that are nutritious and produce lots of leftovers. When considering last night's dinner, I had started with the idea of chicken and asparagus but after looking through my cookbooks The Ragazzo and I settled on prosciutto wrapped salmon, which sounds fancy but it could not be easier. It was accompanied by lentils with chopped spinach and herbs with yogurt dribbled on top. It even looked good on the plate! It was one of Jamie Oliver's recipes which I find are almost alway easy to make and really tasty. I first discovered the Naked Chef - while sick w/ a flu in a hotel in London and stuck in front of the television. Here's the recipe my only variations - I had pretty hefty fillets and cooked them for 20 minutes not 10. They were perfect. I also cheated and used canned lentils. I have Jamie's The Naked Chef Takes Off which has quite a few recipes I go to again and again. He also has a new book Cook with Jamie that I paged through while waiting for someone at Williams Sonoma that looks like a really good cooking primer. I'm a fan.
On a stomach happily filled with salmon and lentils I finished Russell Banks The Reserve. My enthusiasm for the solidity of his writing and my criticism for the plotting of this novel stand. My suspicions for how the novel would end were mostly confirmed. Banks may not have wished me to be surprised though. In the italicized passages that are flash forwards interspersed with the plot-proper set in 1936, at least one character dies. I won't say who or how, but what that did for the remainder of the 1936 events was cast a completely different light on them. It is like getting terribly caught up in one of life's daily drama's at work or at home - something that feels terribly important - and then suddenly hurricane Katrina strikes or a childhood friend gets a terrible illness and you're left thinking - what was I making all that fuss about? There is a sudden switch in the focus of the novel from a 1930s film intrigue and romance to questions of ethics - of right and wrong. They come a little late if you ask me, but I appreciated them coming at all. They gave me a respect for one of the characters that I hadn't previously felt.
If any of you care to recommend to me the Russell Banks I should read - I'd be intrigued to hear. I've had one vote for Cloudsplitter. He is the New York State Novelist after all, so I would like to read some more of his work.
I'm choosing between David Lodge's Thinks..., Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth, and Stefan Zweig's Chess Story for my next book, but now, despite the fact that you think it may be Sunday, I have to head off to the lab and work.