Dave Eggers' Zeitoun is a non-fiction account of one man's experience during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Abdulrahman Zeitoun is a Syrian immigrant to the United States who owns and operates a home contracting business in New Orleans and lives with his wife Kathy and four children. The book reads like fiction, and tells the story of Zeitoun's "perfect storm" - the combination of the tragedy and chaos of Katrina with post-911 prejudice towards Arabs. Eggers does a great job of narrating Zeitoun's experiences with a reporters voice, though it must have been difficult to write in such a neutral voice since what happened to Zeitoun at the hands of the U.S. and local government is shocking and would make even the most moderate person angry. More details on the book after the jump. For the recipe, I wanted to combine a classic New Orleans food with some Middle Eastern flavors. Po boys on pita is what I came up with. Homemade pita, fried oysters, with typical shawarma condiments - lettuce, tahini sauce and pickles. Yum!
Little Bee by Chris Cleave is a wonderful novel about two women, Little Bee and Sarah O'Hara, from different worlds, who in the worst circumstances imaginable find a way help each other. These cupcakes, like the book cover for Little Bee, are cute, but let me be clear - the book is not cutesy in anyway - it is truly heart wrenching throughout. The title character, Little Bee, is a teenage Nigerian refugee, who, at the novel's start, finds herself in a stark British immigration detention center. Little Bee is not her real name, but a name she created as she fled her country. She is a refugee, has been through hellish, traumatic experiences and lost her family, but her immense strength enables her to be kind and loving to Sarah and her child. I made these honey sweetened cupcakes with honey buttercream for Little Bee.
I am a big fan of Richard Russo. His latest book, That Old Cape Magic, is the story of a middle age professor of screenwriting whose marriage is falling apart. That professor, Jack Griffin, spends much of the book reflecting on his parents and their marriage, which ended in divorce. The book begins as Griffin is traveling to Cape Code for the wedding of one of his daughters friends. Although his parents, both professors, taught at a university in the Midwest, they family spent their summers on Cape Cod, and that is where his parents were most happy. I decided to make a Cape Cod inspired recipe and came up with these simple Stuffed Quahogs (clams), a classic Cape Cod appetizer and perfect for the summer. Enjoy.