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Shantimar (Greece)

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2.0 out of 5 stars Underwear was still smelly, 8 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Well, look at the title of my review. The clothes didn't look or smell clean. And by clean, I don't mean they should smell of detergent. But the body odours smell should have gone away, and it hadn't. Although it was a whites wash so the water temperature was relatively high. After that, I didn't use the balls again on their own, I just put them in with a bit of detergent to help. It's still good because I use less detergent, but my point is that the advertised benefits are not there. Very sad about it, really, I had great hopes.

Audrey Gordon's Tuscan Summer
Audrey Gordon's Tuscan Summer
by Audrey Gordon
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.53

1.0 out of 5 stars Really?, 8 Jun 2014
The author meant to make a personal "humorous" travelogue cum recipe book.
This has worked before, and it could work, if only she wasn't such a dreadful, egotistic person, always ready to find fault and with a gift of finding the sharpest, most wounding words. She has a bad word for everybody, from people back in England (in totally unneeded digressions having nothing to do with her Tuscany experience), to her editor, to her readers, to participants of her Master Class, to locals, including her hosts, to her husband's painting talents, to her own friends, which she enjoys tearing to pieces. In all the book, I haven't found anything that would indicate she actually loves somebody.

Please don't believe me. I'm including extensive quotes, so you can judge for yourself.

"Like us, Gerald and Heather simply adore Tuscany and I thought a platter of local cheeses would make an ideal welcome. It turns out Heather is now lactose intolerant. She is also no longer eating gluten, which rules out any pasta or pastry dishes. To be perfectly honest, I think there’s a fine line between food intolerance and simply being fussy." and later on
"Gerald and Heather are certainly enjoying their stay with us. Heather loves to potter in the kitchen and describes herself as a ‘self-taught cook’, a phrase that for me instantly conjures up images of dirty fingernails and soggy risotto. Today she offered to help out with dinner and, while it was nice having some company in the kitchen, her attempts at zesting a lemon were – to put it kindly – hopeless. Bitter white pith throughout the peel. In the end I had to send her off to pick some parsley so I’d have a chance to throw everything out and start again."
How will Heather feel after reading the published book? It doesn't matter, does it?
And here is what she has to say of her other friends:
"It’s been over two weeks since the Sandersons left. Yet, disappointingly, we have still not received a thank you card. Of course, they presented us with a small gift basket but I hardly feel that a few scented soaps (bulked out with a lot of raffia) can fully make up for a formal, written acknowledgement."

"Our guests Lynne and Victor have both truly settled in. We told them to ‘treat the place like their own’, an offer that’s been accepted perhaps just a touch too literally. I found several wet towels lying in the bathroom this morning and a half-full mug of tea left on the hall table without a coaster. After lunch, Victor asked if he could play one of his jazz CDs; naturally we said yes, not realising there’d be piercing trumpet blasting through the house for the next two hours. Still, it was delightful to see them so relaxed, even if this was at the expense of others."
"When I cooked this risotto for supper it was simply devoured by our guests. In fact, Victor declared it to be the ‘best risotto he had ever tasted!’ Although Lynne was a little less effusive in her praise and ate very little. To be fair, she is watching her weight (and for good reason), yet she certainly enjoyed dessert, so it’s hard to really be sure."

"Phillip’s sister Helena arrived this afternoon for another stay. She says she ‘misses her brother’ and just had to come back to spend some more time with us. Funny, Helena only sees Phillip once or twice a year back in England, but now we’re in Tuscany the familial bonds seem overwhelming. "
"Phillip and I visited the cathedral, where we lit a candle and said a prayer. But when I got back to the house, Helena was still there."

"After having the house back to ourselves for barely twenty-four hours, our dear friends Ryan and Olivia Pestridge arrived today en route to Rome. They’d had a good trip, coming down from Zurich on the train, although one of Olivia’s suitcases had apparently gone missing somewhere between here and Venice. ‘Not to worry,’ I thought, a tray of freshly made rice paper rolls would soon revive spirits and take their minds off this minor setback. Not so, it turned out, with Olivia spending the entire evening lamenting the loss of her precious bag and itemising its contents. Not even a bowl of cinnamon zabaglione could prompt a change of topic, and I was eventually forced to retire early with a headache (not entirely untrue). Still, it’s lovely to see them."

"Fresh vegetables, grilled and drenched in olive oil and balsamic, served with garlic and flat-leaf parsley, make a meal that will simply never go out of fashion. Unfortunately, the same could not be said of the wine Ryan and Olivia bought in town, a ghastly old Lambrusco that they suggested might ‘complement the meal’. Naturally, Phillip made a great show of opening the bottle (complete with raffia covering!) before taking it into the kitchen, where he was able to discreetly replace the contents with a similar but somewhat superior vintage. "

"we received news today that our old colleagues Aileen and Patrick Skegess have decided to separate. To be honest, the relationship lasted far longer than anyone would have predicted, especially given Patrick’s predilections and Aileen’s desperately brave struggle with alcoholism, but it’s still a shock to think we’ll no longer be seeing them as a couple at industry functions. As it turned out, he left her (apparently) but that’s neither here nor there and I just hope that everyone gives them both the privacy they deserve." (Did we, readers, really have to know about this? There's for privacy!"

One has to wonder how the author still has ANY friends or, indeed, anybody still talking to her.


"This simple soup used to be a staple on our entrée menu at audrey’s. So much so that one food critic actually had the temerity to accuse us of being ‘lazy’! (Not bad, coming from a writer who then went on to release a book made up entirely of his previous columns as if it was some sort of grandly original work instead of a hastily cobbled-together Christmas re-hash of ill-informed articles that no one even wanted to read in the first place.)"

"Some years ago, a London-based newspaper critic (whose name I honestly can’t remember) wrote that the service at audrey’s was ‘unacceptably slow’. Of course, I can laugh about it now but at the time it hurt us all deeply, especially the waitress responsible, who we were consequently forced to let go. What I personally found so offensive was the fact that this outrageous claim was simply missing the point. Restaurants such as ours were never about fast service. We deliberately set out to create a mood of unhurried elegance, a point obviously lost on Mr G. Neunhasen, whose complete lack of culinary credentials has since seen him transferred to the paper’s television section."

She actually SACKED the poor girl? Was it really her fault?

"One of the joys of escaping to Tuscany has been getting away from the dreadful British press and their interminable quest to find fault with those more talented or successful."
An example of which being articles where they - reasonably, I think - call "selling out" the fact that, after all the entusiasm for organic, freshly picked seasonable produce, she's agreed to be the face of Kwik n’ Easy™ Ready-Cooked Home-Style Frozen Meals


"Little is ever thrown away in a Tuscan kitchen. Stale bread, old bones, vegetable peelings, even used dishcloths will find their way into a typical meal. "
"Mariella brought a simple salad while Paolo brought his brother Luigi (who also appeared somewhat simple), along with several bottles of homemade grappa."

" we came upon an isolated farmhouse, in front of which sat an elderly couple. Whether husband and wife or brother and sister we weren’t sure. (And, to be frank, in these smaller villages the two are not always mutually exclusive.)"

"Unfortunately, our hot water system shows no sign of being fixed, despite frequent visits by Signor Limbardi. This week he brought his son along to help, if you could call sitting under a tree sending text messages ‘helping’. The problem is apparently air in the pipes but we’ve been assured it will be rectified within a few days, once a small part arrives from Rome." [WELL, that's what he was making the phone calls for, duh!]

"None of the group are professional chefs, although one woman, Louise Davers, runs a small B&B in Dorset and told me she is thinking of opening a restaurant there. Watching her prepare a simple ravioli con la zucca, all I can say is I wouldn’t be booking a table anytime soon."

"I felt some of the comments left in our Visitors’ Book could have been a little more effusive. ‘Great time, thanks.’ Really, Deborah? Is that the best you can come up with after four days of inspirational workshops?"

"I get so upset with people who refuse to take the time to allow meat to rest after it has finished cooking. Because that’s just the point – it HASN’T finished cooking at all. After being removed from the oven, the meat’s sinews and fibres need time to relax and release their stored juices. I’ve even seen one so-called ‘celebrity chef’ carve a roast chicken while it was still in the oven! It would be terribly unprofessional of me to name names, but needless to say N-g-lla was blissfully unaware."

Some excerpts of what the author THINKS is funny:

"Much of our luggage was sent on ahead but we still found ourselves at Gatwick in mid-May with some rather over-sized suitcases. I usually find the staff at the check-in counter pretty understanding but wouldn’t you know it, we got the employee from hell (or, to be more accurate, Hyderabad). I’m not sure if young Sanjeet was deliberately trying to make life difficult, but frankly I found the concept of someone of her background penalising me for taking too much out of my own country just a little hard to take."

"After struggling to hail a taxi for over half an hour, Phillip and I realised we had no choice but to walk back to the hotel through a maze of crowded streets, full of in-your-face vendors, gangs of gypsy kids and assorted shady characters. Not to mention scores of homeless beggars, wandering about in their filthy rags. As it turned out, many of them were Australian backpackers, but the sense of poverty lying beneath Rome’s gilded surface was disturbing.
Phillip wanted to give money to an old woman sitting outside our hotel (she showed him one of her wizened breasts and the poor darling said he felt somewhat obliged), but I assured him that handing out cash to vagrants was not actually helping them. Yes, it might provide food and temporary shelter, but what about a sense of dignity? Besides, as I reminded Phillip, we are already doing more than our fair share back home on the charitable front. I’m a founding member of Chef Aid, a wonderful organisation that arranges for disused kitchen equipment to be sent to underprivileged countries. Just last month we shipped 200 grape scissors to a remote village in northern India, while somewhere in the Sudan there’s a subsistence farming community who, thanks to us, are now the proud owners of a rotary evaporator. So, when it comes to doing our bit for others, I think we can both rest pretty comfortably."

"The cathedral boasts one of the oldest pipe organs in Europe. The instrument is greatly in need of repair, with many of the notes missing or out of tune. Listening to it gave us a very real sense of the suffering felt by Christ."
[REVIEWER's NOTE: I am not religious, but I still found this offensive]

"‘I’ve always loved animals and as a child I collected many pets: everything from stray dogs to turtles and geese. These creatures quickly became my companions and, in some cases, my earliest ingredients.’"

If you’re making this dish for vegetarians, either omit the fried pancetta or tell them it’s onion."

"I often like to add some finely chopped minced pork to this dish, although if, like me, you have Jewish friends you can use beef or simply not invite them."

"It seems my recent article in Wine ’n’ Dine magazine has prompted a veritable flood of angry letters. Apparently, my reference to diabetics as ‘fussy eaters’ has caused offence to some of their insulin-dependent readers. (Why these people are even looking at the magazine eludes me.)"

"Dinner in town tonight at one of our favourite eateries, Casa Blanca. The food itself was excellent but the ambience was unfortunately destroyed by a group of diners at a nearby table who had insisted on bringing their two young children to dinner. One of them must have been teething and the other was clearly over-tired, judging by the almost constant crying that punctuated our meal. At one point Phillip suggested moving to another table, quite a reasonable request in my book, but this raucous group refused to budge. I actually felt sorry for the restaurant staff, who could clearly tell that the noise was disturbing other patrons but were powerless to do anything about it.
At audrey’s we were committed to providing every guest with a unique and elegant dining experience, which is why we made the decision not to admit children under the age of eight including babies. Well, from the initial public outcry you’d think we’d just opened a twenty-four hour abortion clinic. There were letters to the local paper, petitions, even demonstrations (if you can call half a dozen saggy-chested stalwarts from the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers a ‘demonstration’). But in the end we won the battle on behalf of our customers."

"I’m an intensely spiritual person. I could quite easily be a Buddhist, if it weren’t for the early starts and overcooked rice"

Maybe she hasn't heard that the main thing in Buddhism is something called "COMPASSION". Which probably will take her many more lifetimes to achieve.

The recipes are very few, most of the space is taken by the travelogue, and most importantly by pictures of herself. The local colour is very sparse, she's mainly in a room, posing.
Most recipes are for meat, especially veal, and very few vegetables. I think this emphasis is doing a poor service on the great variety of vegetable recipes in Italian (and Tuscan) tradition.
And let me tell you, she gets most of the Italian names wrong! "Zuppa di giorno" instead of "Zuppa del giorno", "cavalo nero" instead of "cavolo nero", "Pollo con salsa acciughe" (instead of "Pollo con salsa di acciughe" and a great number of other examples, including a restaurant name "Cucina Nuovella" (instead of Cucina Novella). Sloppy job, Audrey!

I haven't tried any of the few recipes that look interesting. I don't think I will, though, because I'll be throwing the book into the garbage.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 8, 2014 9:05 AM BST

You Asked Aunt Rocky: Answers & Advice about Raqs Sharqi and Raqs Shaabi
You Asked Aunt Rocky: Answers & Advice about Raqs Sharqi and Raqs Shaabi
by Morocco (C Varga Dinicu)
Edition: Paperback
Price: 32.46

5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome reference, witty and full of precious info!, 4 Dec 2013
The definitive guide - and so entertaining as well! You can almost hear your mind's doors screeching open while reading this book.
Morocco's been around for the last half-century or so, dancing, learning, travelling, teaching, arguing with people, fighting - at times single-handedly - a noble cause in the name of oriental dance.
Although the deluge of cheap, fake, stupid or downright sleazy dancers and shows threatens to drown her voice, this only strengthens her determination to inform the public about what oriental dance really is, to help dancers understand what it is they are dancing, to make them want to learn more, investigate, and not blindly accept whatever their teacher or their neighbours think. To make them more conscious artists, women and human beings. By propagating the consideration for the culture and knowledge about the dance's history, by being more respectful to their dance, they will get more respect themselves, and their life and work will become more meaningful.
An amazing woman: an intelligent, passionate, opinionated, resourceful, creative, thorough, and immensely funny lady who has been a tremendous influence for a great number of dancers. Still, a book will help reach an even greater number of people, and will be treasured for generations to come.

The format chosen is an introduction to the chapter or subchapter, and then a Q and A, based on the saved exchanges from the (now defunct) Middle Eastern Dance mailing list, with added stories, anecdotes, even full articles and interviews.
She does cover almost everything one would ever wish to know about the subject:
Shaabi (folk dances) and Sharqi/Oryantal (what we call oriental dance) in its different guises, the situation in the countries of origin of the dance and tips for those wanting to travel there. Although many of us do not concern ourselves with folk dances much, in the years since the book came out, they started becoming fashionable among dancers and show producers, for variety's sake, so this information will help avoid cultural gaffes and present them in the most authentic possible way.
Some of the material would probably better organized by dropping the Q and A format, which betrays its origins, but I understand that people more used to dancing than reading might find it easier.
Then, the next chapters are about:
Teaching, technique tips, Finger Cymbals and Working: invaluable pointers on most issues that people will come across as students, teachers and/or professionals, and how to avoid pitfalls.
Her meetings with great dancers/choreographers or people relevant to the dance history.
A chapter on why the "b" word is insulting to this art and should be dropped in favour of "Raqs Sharqi" or its literal translation, "Oriental dance".
A few (very few - but in the age of the internet, one can easily find more) historical images, Glossary, Bibliography, Index, About the Author.

Thus, a really comprehensive reference book, exceptionally well-written, witty and eye-opening, with the flavour of real conversation: a real reading pleasure even for the non-bookish person. And, for every lover of the dance, a one-stop reference. You really don't need to read anything more than that.

The Girl's Guide to Homemaking
The Girl's Guide to Homemaking
by Amy Bratley
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.20

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Alcoholic whiner with double standards - what's likeable about Juliet?, 1 Oct 2012
I was looking forward to reading the book, after the description on the back. But the content is just a copy-paste of Mills & Boons chick lit with the sex and alcohol added. This girl, Juliet, who is very boring otherwise, and a complete hypocrit (after going through all the pain of being cheated on, she then goes to bed with a married man), drinks all the time, with every possible excuse, and don't tell me that it's because of her heartbreak over infidelity and separation. You don't HAVE to become an alcoholic because of sorrow, it's the oldest and tritest cliché in the world (books, songs, operas, what have you). Plus, everyone around her gets routinely drunk too, even if they don't have such problems. They do have other problems, who doesn't? So the solution to problems is not, for instance, taking up yoga and meditation, joining a bellydance class to release endorfins, doing voluntary work for homeless people or orphan children etc.. No sir! The problem solver is alcohol! They feel terrible afterwards, make coffees, take aspirins, then after a few hours start drinking all over again. What a nice example the author is giving to her readers, young women mainly!!!
It reminded me a lot of Claire LaZebnik's "Knitting Under the Influence" which had exactly the same problem: in both books sex, alcohol, relationship issues etc... are spiced up by some trendy craft, knitting in that case, retro sewing in this case. Exploiting the current big fashion for these things. I don't like it when an author seems to have thought, for his/her first book: "Hhmmmm.... let's think, what is the fashion now, what the readers will like?" and then goes on to write. Writing is supposed to be about expressing things you have inside, which are clamoring to get out, not about following a template with the goal of getting a best-seller! I got really angry with this book and I certainly wouldn't want to pass it on to my daughter. I'm throwing it away in the garbage, where it belongs. At least, the Mills & Boons of my generation were silly and sexist, but they had some restraint.

The New Vegan: Fresh, Fabulous and Fun
The New Vegan: Fresh, Fabulous and Fun
by Janet Hudson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.27

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All fake meat, fish and poultry - yuck!, 16 Jun 2012
I bought it with high expectations. I'm a vegetarian since 1988, and I've come to hate anything that tastes or smells or even looks like meat/fish/poultry, as it reminds me of the horrible images and information about how farm animals are raised and killed. So I was really appalled at this book. Here you will find page after page after page of, not only meat/egg/dairy like titles in quotes - supposedly to suggest that the dish is a replacement for its meat equivalent - but the presence, in almost every recipe, of meat/fish/poultry/dairy lookalikes/fakes which is offensive to most vegetarians & vegans. Don't believe me, have a look for yourself.

Some examples from Appetizers:
* 'California Dream'n'Shrimp Cocktail' - featuring veggie prawns
* Cheesy Artichoke Fondue - featuring vegan mayonnaise, grated veggie parmesan, veggie mozzarella shreds
* 'Crab' Boats - featuring shredded veggie crab and vegan mayonnaise
* Dynamite Dolmas - featuring vegan soy hamburger (actually in Greek cooking we have an already-vegan version of dolma, used during Lent, with a delicious rice, currant and pine nut filling... so why not use this?)
* Eggplant Medallions - feat. veggie mozzarella slices
* 'Egg' Salad Rollups - with soft tofu
* Fisherman's Net - feat veggie scallops, veggie shrimp
* Freshwater (Up Stream)Quesadillas - feat. veggie salmon, vegetable margarine and veggie mozzarella
* Fond of Fondue... Cape Aire Cheddar - feat. vegan soy hamburger, vegetable margarine, veggie cheddar cheese
* Got Hot Wings? - feat. veggie chicken and vegan Worcestershire sauce
* Greek Toasts - feat soy cream cheese (how cream cheese is Greek, anyway???)
* Grilled Cheese Shish Kabob - feat tofu cheddar cheese block
* Lobster Wonton Appetizer - feat veggie lobster (YUCK! Reminding you of the horrid way real lobsters get boiled alive!)
* Mediterranean Tapas - feat veggie bacon
* Nilonese Dim Sum - feat veggie pork
* Nuccio's Rollatini - feat veggie ham, veggie provolone, veggie salami, veggie Swiss soy cheese
* Pizzazz! Fondue - feat. vegan soy hamburger, veggie provolone shreds, veggie mozzarella shreds (why should even "real" cheese fondue have hamburgers, is beyond me. Usually it has cheese, wine and spices)
* Quesadillas Supreme... Ole! - feat veggie cheddar cheese, grated veggie parmesan, veggie sour cream
* "Seafood"Timbale in Wasabi Sauce - feat veggie salmon,veggie shrimp and vegan mayonnaise
* Spring Rolls - veg. veggie shrimp. (OK here I really don't get it: there is an already veggie option for spring rolls, available in EVERY Chinese restaurant, so why do you have to put the fake shrimps?)

These examples come from the first 40 of the 418 pages of recipes. In those 40 pages, there are 38 recipes. The examples I wrote above are 20. So you see that over half of these recipes are based on non-vegan substitutes.
You can imagine what happens in the rest of the book. You get many more such titles in the following chapters: Drunken Shrimp, Hawaiian Chicken, Kofta and Gravy, Midwest-Style Veggie Chops and Brown Rice, Minced Squab-Not!, Miso Marinated 'Fish' with Baby Bok Choy, Old-Fashioned Salisbury Steak...NOT!, Zoran's 'Pork Meatballs' in Green Sauce, 'Mac and Cheese',Kielbasa Burger and so on...

As a vegetarian and an animal lover, I really resent reading all those titles, which remind me of the cruelty going on in the world of animal eaters. And, although I do occasionally eat soy products such as tofu to cut down on cheese, and I use vegetable burgers, I shun products which smell and taste like meat/fish/poultry because they're too close to the real thing.

So what's the big effort? Take any old favourite recipe with meat, and use soy mince or soy kebats instead. Take any recipe with cheese, and put veggie parmesan, veggie sour cream and so on... It seems to me that the author took a cookbook of standard dishes and then set out to make vegan versions of them, by changing them as little as possible, but just substituting readymade commercial products which will give the illusion of the original.

I would really throw away the book in the garbage, if it weren't for the dessert section, which contains some very nice recipes.(And the egg replacer is a home-made thing, made of flour, safflower oil, baking powder and water.)

All in all, I would only recommend this book to a very limited section of the population, the die-hard meat eaters, people desperately loving their non-vegetarian food, who, on their way to a vegan lifestyle, really miss the flavour and texture of it, and want something familiar for the transition period. I'm not saying that new vegetarians or vegans should never use these products - they're free to do whatever they feel will help them in the beginning of their journey - but this book is too dependent on them and does nothing to introduce the new vegan to new flavours and textures, re-educating their taste buds: it's not really a transition, but a prolonging of the dependency on the old foods.

Grape Cure
Grape Cure
by Benedict Lust
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An invaluable book, 1 Dec 2010
This review is from: Grape Cure (Mass Market Paperback)
I have read this book many years ago, but it wasn't the first time I heard of a grape cure. Ancient Greeks used it, it is still used in Germany and Austria, I experienced it in Tyrol, for instance, where they have wonderful grapes.
I've been doing small grape cures every year, when the grape season comes. I don't suffer from anything in particular, I do it as a regular detox. I feel wonderful, energetic and in a good mood; my skin becomes smooth and vibrant, every single pimple is gone, evacuation is normalized and I shed some unwanted weight too. I've never had any side effects, even when using it for two weeks, which is my maximum. You just have to be careful not to overeat, grapes are so delicious! Although nowadays it is important to eat organic grapes (purple ones are best), with the skins and the seeds (this I don't do, but if I were a cancer patient I sure would). And the water should be filtered, purified, so that all chlorine and pesticides are removed.
I know nothing about it curing cancer, but in healthy people (who don't suffer from diabetes or such)who have minor little problems a grape cure can only be beneficial.
There are people who wait for something to be "scientifically proved" to endorse it, without listening to the thousands of people testifying that it works. Yes, it's like homeopathy. It cannot be proven why it works, but it works anyway. Moreover, the book is cheap, so you are not risking anything. By the way, if you go to huldaclarkzappers com you will find the method outlined without purchasing the book, and it also includes many helpful tips on dealing with things unheard of in Dr. Brandt's time, such as pesticides on grapes, chlorinated water, and the scientific facts behind the diet. Hulda Clark Zappers on the aforementioned site says that water fast starves the cancer cells and then you give them the cancer-killing resveratol, so they fall on it hungrily. Hmmm, interesting. It sure makes sense.
It's much better than many costly programs with pills and chemicals you know nothing about. At least this is a natural food. You are certainly not risking malnutrition if you only do it for a week or two, and you can also go on working normally, as the sugars in the grapes give you a lot of energy.
I'm not saying all M.D.s are in bad faith: there are many who sincerely believe this is quackery: because of their frameset they are not ready to accept anything they didn't learn in medical school. However, I also feel the suspicion and slander from the part of some medical people come less from real conviction and more from the fact that if all people adopted natural cures they'd be out of a job.

The Greek Vegetarian
The Greek Vegetarian
by Diane Kochilas
Edition: Paperback
Price: 14.67

20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very tasty recipes - but not traditional, 1 Dec 2010
This review is from: The Greek Vegetarian (Paperback)
Diane Kochilas, an American of Greek origin who didn't grow up in Greece (I understand she came to live here as an adult), and has written many books about Greek cuisine, has done a good job with her recipes, but it's still obvious that she's a Greek from abroad. As, this is not only a cookbook, it also contains extensive information on Greek cookery, that's why I'm so sorry that the information in this book, while trying to be comprehensive, contains so many mistakes, some of them just funny, others more important, as they will lead the readers to false assumptions.
For instance, see page 3 of the book's introduction:
"Only recently have Greeks gained the dubious title of biggest meat eaters in Europe, and even then all they did, according to the author, was make their plates bigger for the added meat. They still eat a diet rich in vegetables. Always have; always will."
Not true. Traditionally Greeks didn't eat lots of meat because of poverty, not because of choice. Whenever they could, they did. Some couldn't more than twice a year, or once a week, but it was considered the best thing to offer if you had an honoured guest. There is no tradition of vegetarianism here. And I know some men that say that vegetables are for women, meat is man food. And, while it is true that even middle class families before WW2 ate meat or chicken only on Sundays and fish on Fridays, leaving all the days as vegetarian or semi-vegetarian, now I know many people who need meat on every meal and if they don't eat it, they felt they "haven't eaten".
The author also states (on page 1 of the introduction) that "even today, when meat is no longer considered a luxury, it often plays a subordinate role, combined (in small portions) with greens or beans or other vegetables." Again, not true at all. Ask my son what there was on offer in summer camp, and how he had to survive on milk and muesli he had brought along, so the other children gave him the sobriquet "muesli" (he never went to a summer camp again, and I wonder what he'll do in the army for food)!
Just go to any eatery in Greece, and see the options you have as a vegetarian: beans, French fries, salad, horta, maybe if you're lucky some stuffed vine-leaves and tomatoes (often these too are with mince meat). And women, who don't want to get fat, don't eat meat in addition to other things, they eat it alone, with some lettuce.

Let's go on.
The author says that ancient Greeks made bread with baking powder, or that Greeks make generous use of spices like cinnamon, cloves and allspice in sauces and other savory dishes. In reality, Greeks use mostly herbs and very little spices. Those particular spices are used in some dishes from Asia Minor (they came after the burning down of Smyrna by the Turks in 1922 and the subsequent exodus of the populations to mainland Greece), but mostly in sweets.
She says that "filotimo" (literally "love of honour", but meaning more generally sense of honour/justice/dignity/duty) means "sense of hospitality" which in Greek is not "filotimo" but "filoxenia" (the world "xenos" meaning "stranger", so filoxenia was a loving way to treat strangers). OK, so she doesn't even understand the Greek language correctly? Not a crime, of course, but she should have looked it up.
At the end of the book, there are measurement conversions. She states that drams are "a measure still used in Greece". WHAT????? Look it up in the Greek wikipedia site, it says it was abolished in 1959. Who on earth was she talking with?

But all of this, irritating as it is, for a self-proclaimed expert on Greek cuisine, is not the most important part. The most important part in a cookbook are the recipes. Let's come to them. Here things get better, because you'll find many treasures here, things that taste delicious.
But if you think that by trying them out you're learning to cook traditional Greek dishes, you might be wrong.

There are some traditional ones but many (most) are INSPIRED - as the title says - by Greek cuisine, not traditional. Some come from the author's friends. Some she has tasted at modern creative restaurants. You know, the ones which combine traditional ingredients in new ways and make unusual combinations, sometimes with excellent results, sometimes not. Greece is now full of these. Don't get me wrong. No big deal if a recipe isn't traditional, as long as it's tasty. And at least the author honestly acknowledges it. I'm pointing it out just to set the record straight, because so many reviewers seem to have overlooked it.
For instance, the first recipe you'll find are "Pickled Brussels Sprouts" (unknown to Greece until a couple of decades ago). Then you have "Spicy Lentil and Wild Rice salad" and then "Ziti with cranberry beans and celery". Again wild rice is an imported delicatessen item, not a Greek food. Same for cranberry beans. I would never know where to find them in Greece. They might be available in some specialist place or health food store, but surely not your local supermarket or vegetable market. Otherwise, the recipe is fine.
On page 52, she advises to substitute Cretan graviera cheese with Gruyere or Emmenthaler. Absolutely not. The name might be the same, but Greek graviera is a lot harder and saltier. Not as much as Parmesan, but still salty. (Maybe a Caciotta? I don't know - but she should.)

To conclude this:
There are some really wonderful recipes in this book, and it's strongly recommended that you try them out. The book is worth buying, but not if it must be your only Greek cookery reference. Use it and enjoy it. Just don't take the book as your Bible as far as the information goes, and don't think that this is all traditional Greek fare.

Bookeen Cybook Opus E-Book Reader: Aktuelles Firmwareupdate auf:
Bookeen Cybook Opus E-Book Reader: Aktuelles Firmwareupdate auf:

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm extremely pleased with the Opus, 18 Nov 2010
I had written a long review about a week ago, but it didn't get posted. I hope it's just a mistake, and I'm writing it again. So...
I chose the opus after weeks of looking around, browsing mobile reading forums, reading dozens of reviews (technical and user reviews), including at, weighing the pros and cons, and trying to figure out what are my own needs.
Why I chose the Cybook Opus then?

- I only want an ereader to read books. Period. I don't like printer/fax/scanners, I don't like to take pictures with my mobile, I want each machine to do what it is meant to do and do it well. When a machine does many different things, it cannot do each of them excellently.
- The light weight is a plus for me, not only for buses, subway and out-of town travel, but also for bed reading with oen hand. With print books, it sometimes happens, if they're big, that I have to position on a pillow, to avoid wrist strain. Not anymore! The weight wouldn't be as light if the ereader also had a keyboard, mp3 support, read to me and all those other features.
- I don't like devices which have wireless antennas in my hands for too long. I won't enter here into a discussion about electromagnetic waves, fields and radiation, cancer and leukemia: there are places where you can read more than you want to know, so look it up (I recommend that you do). Suffice it to say that I'm trying to limit mobile phone use to a bare minimum, and I don't have wireless keyboard, mouse, phone or router. So an ereader, which will be touching my hands for long periods of time, has to be without an antenna too. And, in case you don't know, antennae do function even when the device is off. Moreover, practically speaking, with hundreds of books in your ereaders memory, enough for a lifetime of reading, I don't see what spoiled brat would yell "I just NEED to have that other or newer book NOW, I cannot wait to get home to my PC". I can download all I want when I'm at the PC and then transfer them in a jiffy. So, for the sake of that very rarely useful thing, I should carry more weight and bulk, and risk my health? No thanks.
- I don't want to have to send all my (sometimes private) documents somewhere outside to be converted. I want to be able to read them as they are or convert them myself locally.
- I don't want to be tied up to proprietary formats.
- I don't want to have to send the battery to the store when it's spent, I want to be able to buy a battery and replace it myself with no hassle.
- I don't want a touchscreen because it has glare. e-ink is much much better, completely matte! Plus you don't have to wipe your screen because of greasy fingermarks!
- I want to be able to organize my books in folders according to my own liking. Folders, subfolders and child subfolders if needs be, so that I can find my stuff without too much scrolling.
- I want the possibility to extend the memory with extra cards
- I prefer to buy things from European companies and not huge multinationals. I am a loyal customer of amazon, mind you, and enthusiastic about their excellent service. But I'm a bit worried about monopolies.

The pros:
- light weight
- wonderfully simple and convenient folder management and file transfer (your PC will see it as an external hard drive)
- user-replaceable battery. Charge it from the PC (USB cable included)or plug it in the electricity mains.
- very simple and efficient navigation: one four way navigation button with OK in the centre, a "back" (or, I should say, "up" in folder hierarchy) button and a "right click" button, for context menus (there you can do many different things). Then, two longish buttons at the side for page turning. That's all folks, and that's all you need, really!
- this G sensor really rocks. If you turn the ereader landscape-wise, it will reflow the text in that direction so that you can see bigger size and, not only, but the navigation buttons will also adapt themselves to the new position. For those that don't want the feature, it can be turned off from the menu.
- The display is very sharp, and the contrast becomes better the more light there is. Yes, it only has a few shades of grey, when some more advanced models have 16, but I assure you that what it has is perfectly OK for reading (although it probably would need more shades to see pictures or comics - but, again, I bought it to read text, not as a picture viewer - for this I have a good PC screen, thank you)
- You can choose from 12 font sizes, you can embolden the text if the lighting is not very good, so that it becomes more crisp, clear and visible. If you like, you can even add your own fonts. Just copy them into the fonts folder (can't get simpler than that, now, can it?)
- It has a slot which takes up to 16 MB mini SD card, in case you wish to expand the storage. Or you could choose to have many different cards, one your main backup, other small ones especially for this period, this trip, this user.
- The interface and menu can be in any of a wide choice of languages, including non-Latin scripts.
- The Opus reads metadata, therefore you can choose to name the files as you like.
- It's very chic and cozy, with its rounded corners. It comes in many colours but I chose the white, thought it would be less distracting.
- The company continuously releases new firmware which makes it better. The instructions booklet is very basic, but there's lots of info on the internet - and really, you don't really need to know much more than the basics.
- They give you a slipcase, so you don't have to spend more on a cover.

The cons:
Well, mostly the size. At 5 inches, the display IS small. I don't have good eyesight, so I have to use one of the biggest font sizes, with the result that I have to turn pages more often. But that's not entirely their fault, is it? And if it were larger, it would be heavier. You cannot have your pie and eat it too. On the other hand, I'm grateful to be able to have this bigger size and not strain my eyes.
Because of the size, reading .pdfs is not really recommended, as it can zoom but not reflow the text, so even if you put it on landscape mode, you have to scroll. I decided that I will not read .pdfs there. What I did is I eliminated all the .pdfs that came with it, and the ones I wanted to put in, I converted with the free programme, Calibre, into epub. Thereafter, no problem. Of course, if the .pdf has lots of pictures and graphics, there might be defects in the converted files, but mine didn't.
The second is the price. It's not competitive. I think that if they made it cheaper, it would have one of the top places in the market.

All in all, I warmly recommend it. Just think of how often you would need the features the Opus doesn't have. And what are your real needs, your lifestyle, habits and preferences. This is the only way to decide whether it's for you, and not the mentality "the more features, the better".
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 26, 2013 2:50 PM GMT

The Chronicles of Chrestomanci: Volume 3: Conrad's Fate and the Pinhoe Egg: 3 (Chronicles of Chrestomanci)
The Chronicles of Chrestomanci: Volume 3: Conrad's Fate and the Pinhoe Egg: 3 (Chronicles of Chrestomanci)
by Diana Wynne Jones
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 4.66

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stories amazing, but don't go for the two-in-one!, 29 April 2009
Indeed these stories are wonderful, impossible to put down.
I'm only writing this to warn you of the format. This edition of both books in one maybe more economical but is very difficult and uncomfortable to handle, either you read in bed or in an armchair. It's small and very fat, and the pages don't open properly unless you really pull both ways - which may, on a second or third reading, make it fall apart, thus defeating the purpose of saving money. And definitely it is something that will be read twice or more. Moreover, it's difficult to hold and keep open with one hand, your fingers get sore. So make yourself a favour, and buy the individual titles.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 26, 2012 10:55 AM GMT

Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume 2: The Magicians of Caprona / Witch Week
Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume 2: The Magicians of Caprona / Witch Week
by Diana Wynne Jones
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 4.66

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful content, but buy individually if you can, 29 April 2009
You don't need another review to tell you that these books are wonderful. Impossible to put them down (although in my taste Caprona was better than Witch week, but that's me...) You can also look up at the reviews for the individual editions. I'm only writing this to warn you. This double billed edition is very difficult and uncomfortable to handle, either you read in bed or in an armchair. It's small and very fat, and the pages don't open properly unless you really pull both ways - which may, on a second or third reading, make it fall apart. And definitely it is something that will be read twice or more. Moreover, it's difficult to hold and keep open with one hand, your fingers get sore. So make yourself a favour, and buy the individual titles. I'm even thinking of re-buying the books individually, so that my children and grandchildren will have these treasures for a long-long time to enjoy.

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