By Jane Wilson Howarth Vicarious Travel, 3 edition, 2014 Amazon Digital Services My cousin’s son, David, a twenty-something with a sense of adventure, is in Nepal. He had just started working on a genetics project when the earthquake struck in May this year. In response to pleas from his family to return to the safety of home, he refused because he felt he could be of help where he was. Such is the lure of Nepal, its beauty and its people. David’s adventure reminded me of a book I first read when it was issued in January 2014. Written by English physician Jane Wilson-Howarth, the novel tells the story of Sonia, an Englishwoman who is escaping a failed marriage and the loss of a job, her Nepali guide, Rekraj, her landlady/host, Guliya, and Moti, a teenager with surprising wisdom. The story hinges on cultural misunderstandings, until a natural disaster shows a strength of character that springs from deep within and crosses the cultural divide. The writing is wonderfully atmospheric. One can almost smell the woodsmoke and the cumin, see the snowy mountains, feel both heat and cold. The author drew on her experience as a doctor in Nepal to write the book, which is a fictional follow-up to a memoir, A Glimpse of Eternal Snows. That book has recently been published in India, following English and American editions. The vivacity of the author’s personality her passion for life, and her humanity come across in this book. Once Wilson-Howarth draws the reader into the world she shows us, it is hard to put the book down. Highly recommended.
By Jo Robinson Little Brown & Company, The Hachette Group, New York 2013 Did you know that eating a humble can of tomato paste can help protect you from sunburn? This factoid I learned from this fascinating book by health and food writer Jo Robinson Robinson quotes from a 2000 study by German researchers led by Wilhelm Stahl which found that tomato paste protects against UV rays because of its concentrated amounts of lycopene – an ingredient manufactured by tomatoes to protect themselves from the sun. Of course, all tomatoes are good for you, but it seems that cooking tomatoes and eating canned tomatoes which have been heated in the process of canning makes the lycopene more “biovailable.” According to Robinson, carrots, as well as tomatoes, become more nutritious if sautéed or steamed (not boiled). Whole carrots, cooked before being cut up, retain their beta-carotene better, and make three times the amount of beta-carotene available to the diner than raw carrots. Corn and beets, too, are healthier if cooked. All this somewhat belies the title of this book. “Wild” implies untamed, unhybridized and certainly not GMO-modified plants for consumption. But Robinson, who has researched the wild origin of edible plants, points out that hunter-gatherers knew how to cook. Indeed, wild-lambs quarters,(Chenopodium album) a leafy weed that thrives world wide but grows particularly well in northern California, was steamed by Native Americans to cure stomach aches as well as added to soups, stew and eaten raw. And guess what? That quinoa you pay a premium for in the store is actually the gathered seeds of domesticated lambs quarters. “Know what you’re eating,” is the mantra of this book. Whether selecting plants for your garden, or shopping at the farmer’s market or the local supermarket, you will find this book useful. Armed with the knowledge from this engaging book, you’ll be able to select those fruits and vegetables which maintain the most nutrition, and then you’ll be able to prepare them in the healthiest way. Highly recommended. A book to buy, not to borrow.