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When I first started writing professionally, it wasn’t just cookbooks that I reviewed. I’d just left academic publishing after 10 years in literary studies, and there was a bit of a transition. My very first clips ran in Publishers Weekly, and they were book reviews: tiny, 200-word reviews of literary biographies, books about the occult (!), and a few books about food.
Over the years my focus shifted to cookbooks only. But this month I had a chance to re-visit the world of mainstream book reviewing when NPR asked me to have a look at an Chinese-American food memoir.
‘On the Noodle Road’ turned out to be a fascinating read, although I had a number of disagreements with it. And because I adore radio work, I especially enjoyed working with NPR to convert my 700-word review into into a 2-minute audio synopsis. I’d do it again in a heartbeat, even if there is a long queue of cookbooks that are first in line as usual.
It’s a slightly different format this year: a one-book report on a selection from the list. I had a terrific time recording this piece at our local NPR affiliate (New England Public Radio) on the campus of U. Mass., and I got to put the phrase “bone-suckingly good” on the radio for possibly the first time ever.
You can hear the commentary and read the original story here.
You can also read my extended post with the complete 2012 cookbook shortlist here.
I have a little food commentary on New England Public Radio today–these run about once every couple of months (or when I get around to writing them). I really enjoy the whole process of doing these–drafting them in the quiet of the house, trying to write in radio-speak instead of my usual wrought style, editing them down with brilliant producer Jill Kaufman, recording them on the big mike while waving at John Montanari, who’s usually doing his show there on the other side of the glass studio window.
And I love the title Jill gave this one: Autumn Breeze Distracting for Commentator T. Susan Chang. Ain’t it just!
Hear the commentary here.
A little story on what cooks’ hands know how to do, aired this morning on Morning Edition Extra, at 88.5 FM (New England Public Radio). As cooks, we learn many things with our hands even more than our brains–but I haven’t forgot what it was like when my hands were young and unschooled in the kitchen.
I also learned a lot about studio recording on this one–for example, if I stand up, my voice is much clearer and freer than if I’m sitting down, I have better lung capacity, and it’s easier to see the paper I’m holding behind the mike. If I stand to the side of the mike instead of in front of it, my very poppy p‘s don’t pop so loudly.
Hear the commentary here.
My food commentary – on the unbearable tedium of knife sharpening – aired this morning on WFCR.
Missed it? Listen to the story here.
My fourth radio commentary for New England Public Radio / 88.5 WFCR: Many have asked me what it’s like for my kids, having a mom who reviews cookbooks for a job. Here’s the answer!
My third radio commentary for New England Public Radio (that’s WFCR to us oldtimers): a story about my underhanded relationship with Christmas gingerbread, circa age 8. This one’s a personal favorite.
TSC’s cookbook interview with Joy Cardin, downloadable here. (minutes 1:49 – 18:15 on the download)