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Istanbul: Memories of a City
Istanbul: Memories of a City
by Orhan Pamuk
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.24

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Istanbul is great although it is not the only place in the world where people like to watch a house burn, 20 July 2014
I haven't read any of Pamuk's fiction, but I intend to after having read this book. It is great, although I would not recommend it to people with a short attention span - you will be nodding off. I'll go into more detail below.

- The language is rich and paints a detailed picture - in fact, I found that the photographs that illustrate the book, although beautiful, were not needed - your imagination and the text would definitely be enough. On the downside, some of the language is verbose and clumsy - sometimes it reads like those memoirs from a different century, and you almost expect to be directly addressed as a 'most distinguished reader' (or the like).

- I was slightly irritated by the patriotic tendency to isolate global features of humankind as belonging to Istanbul and its inhabitants alone. It's like people who come to London or Paris, get lost in the stampede at the tourist sites, eat rubbish overpriced food, spend no time or effort in finding out anything else about the place, then go back and talk about how special their hometown is and how disappointing the rest of the world is. On the up side, the fact that this 'spirit of Istanbul' (melancholy/huzun, poverty, romanticising of the past, etc.) is not a distinctive phenomenon, means that you can read this book and identify with it, recognise yourself and your environment in it, and actually like it a lot. It is not necessary to agree with Pamuk that Istanbullus are the only people who live near a body of water AND choose to look at it through their window or who are interested in watching a fire.

- Pamuk refers to a few artists (painters, writers) again and again, which some people will find tedious, but personally I thought it was helpful. If, like me, you will not have heard of most of them (read: the Turkish ones), it is helpful that he goes into this detail because it does not leave you feeling inadequate and instead leaves you feeling like you have learned something, both about these men and about the city. It also leaves an impression that their work is important in understanding what Pamuk wants to say about Istanbul, and that he is not merely name-dropping.

- I liked the idea of Istanbul as a meeting place of the west and the east - it's not a new idea, but it's explored really beautifully in this book. What I find dubious is that this meeting of the west and the east is supposed to have formed a uniform, shared character of the inhabitants of Istanbul. However, when Pamuk stops generalising to talk about individual 'Istanbullus', it is quite powerful. Some excellent memories from his household here (for example, how dining rooms were left unused in the households that saw themselves as western, with the family eating sitting cross-legged on a carpet in a different room).

Home Made
Home Made
by Yvette van Boven
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excuse my french, 14 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Home Made (Hardcover)

- there is a slightly snotty young white middle class european female voice that comes through when reading this book and it can be off-putting. "I always use free-range or ever better, organic meat, but that seems like a no-brainer to me", "I'm surprised how often I have to give out the recipe for savoury pie or 'quiche' to guests or friends, since I thought that by now everyone knows how to do it. But that is often not the case and that's okay. I will write it down again for you" to name a few moments.
- proofreading was carried out by three blind mice. Examples: "If you cook it for too long and you will make the jam more liquid.", "It works out quite well since most of the time as we are packed for lunch.".
- there are times when the recipes are not very clear, and since the book seems to be aimed at beginners, I think more effort could have been put in making them fool-proof.


- Great style, illustrations and photography. It's a pleasure to have this book on a shelf in the living room, to hold it, to read it.
- It has some truly great advice (how to smoke your fish without a smoker? hell yes! how to achieve crusty bread that is baked by professional bakers without using a specially adapted oven? yes yes yes!).
- I loved the structure: you are given a step-by-step photo guide on how to make something from scratch (making jam, preserving, making bread) - by the way, the method given is a simple version to keep it easy (e.g. bread that doesn't need kneading) - followed by a bunch of recipes that gradually increase in complexity. Following that you get fully illustrated recipes that allow you to put your newly learned skills to create something truly impressive.

A pro or a con for you?: the style, though the dishes span a few different cuisines, is fairly uniform. You will not find 'unfashionable' vegetables (e.g. root) in it, nor more adventurous flavours. The recipes, quite predictably, feature a lot of different cheeses, olives, goat's cheese, etc etc. Also, you might have to convert ingredients from French to English.

It may not seem from my review (I am a grumpy cow after all), but the book is worth the money and a great cookbook to have. Then again, I bought it for a tenner. Not sure I would pay 25 quid for it.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 17, 2013 9:04 PM GMT

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