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Wine & Book Group Pick for March '08

abstract:Cellophane (Dial Press) by Marie Arana is a novel set in the Peruvian rain forest during the 1930s where Don Victor Sobrevilla and his wife, Doņa Mariana, venture to find a location for their papermaking factory. Along with the discovery of the secret to making cellophane (a fascinating story in itself) the family is drawn into an erotically charged landscape of surreal history and obsession. Nominated as a National Book Award finalist, Arana's writing has been compared to other literary giants, Allende, Marquez and Conrad. We think this novel is the perfect choice for February, when romance and exotic locations can sweep you away in the best literary tradition. Marie Arana, editor of Washington Post Book World Wines recommended for this book naturally derive from Peruvian sources. Enjoy!

article:

February 01, 2008

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  • About The Author

    Marie Arana is a memoirist, critic, and novelist who has a passion for literature. As the Editor of Book World for the National Post she is involved in the campaign by the National Book Critics Circle to "save book reviewing." As you know, the book review pages in newspapers across the country have been getting cut or seriously abridged. When readers at the Post were surveyed they rated book news second only to interest in restaurants. "That means that readers want book information more than they want information on new movies, pop music concerts, live theater, or even newly released DVDs," says Marie.

    Marie's Peruvian-American heritage has shaped her life in interesting ways. Her father, Jorges Erique Arana, left his home in Lima, Peru, to study engineering at MIT. He met and married Marie Clapp from Wyoming, Marie's mother. The family moved back to Lima where Marie was born and spent her childhood, and then they moved back to the USA when Marie was a young adult. Her studies, interests, and career reflect the duality of her gringa-latina background.

    She graduated from Northwestern University in Illinois with a B.A. in Russian language and literature in 1971, and went on to study Chinese. Living in Hong Kong for several years in the late 1970s, she earned a master's degree in linguistics from the British University of Hong Kong and served as editor of an academic journal, Studies in Bilingualism. In the interim between her undergraduate and graduate studies, Arana married Washington banker Nick Ward and started a family.

    In 1980 Arana became an editor with the Harcourt Brace Jovanovich publishing firm and began an ascent in that business that brought her a vice-presidency at Simon & Schuster in 1989 and a writing and editing position at the Washington Post in 1992. Her first book American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood (2001) was nominated for the National Book Award.

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    Food And Wines to Enjoy With Cellophane

    I found a wonderful food blog by Alejandro from Peru and learned so much about the native cuisine and locations around the globe serving authentic examples of it. With the diverse ecology and climate, a number of foods are native to Peru. The East meets West culture enriches old traditions. Typical foods include cebiche or seafood cooked in citrous juices, succulent fowls and goat dishes, and in the Andes region they eat ancient varieties of corn and potato and Cuy (Guinea Pig, domesticated form of the cavy, Cavia porcellus, a South American rodent ) which, as you might expect, tastes like chicken. 2008 is supposed to be The Year of the Potato. The potato is a New World plant along with cacao and vanilla. Here is a website listing classic Peruvian recipes you might like to try.

    The Algarrobo tree, a relative to the Acacia, provides a feathery shade, mesquite (charcoal for cooking) and flavorful seed pods. It is drought resistant and the long yellowish pods have a sticky covered seed inside that is sweet and distinctive and used to flavor many dishes and drinks with its characteristic tangy bitter taste. Here is a delicious cocktail similar to a Brandy Alexander you might want to try. It comes from this Blog (I know I'm off track but I'm having so much fun!)

    Recipe: Algarrobina Cocktail

    The traditional version of this Peruvian cocktail calls for egg yolks, but I find that the syrup and milk add enough creaminess.

    2 ounces pisco quebranta
    1 ounce (2 tablespoons) algarrobina (sold as carob syrup in Latin markets)
    1 ounce (2 tablespoons) condensed milk
    2 ounces ( 1/4 cup) evaporated milk
    4 or 5 ice cubes
    Ground cinnamon
    Place all the ingredients in a blender and mix at high speed until frothy. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve in an old-fashioned glass. Makes 1 serving.

    Pisco is the national drink. It is a grape liquor like brandy. Pisco is produced on the coast of Peru in the areas of Lima, Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua and the valleys of Locumba, Sama and Caplina in Tacna. The distillation process was known by the highly developed Inca Civilization, probably before the IX Century, but the distilling of Pisco didn't exist until the arrival of the Spaniards who introduced Moscatel grapevines from Spain's Canary Islands.

    The gold, silver, and bronze medal winners of the Pisco Association were:
    Gold Medal: Santiago Queirolo Acholado
    Silver Medal: Gota Italia 2006, Viņa Ocucaje
    Bronze Medals: Pancho Fierro Torontel, Gran Pisco Acholado 2006 Viņa Ocucaje, 100 Aņos Mosto Verde Acholado 2006, Viņa Ocucaje Torontel Mosto Verde, Santiago Quierolo.

    Previous Book & Wine Picks

  • January Eat, Pray, Love set in New York, Italy and India
  • November Madonna:Like an Icon,
  • October Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, set in New England
  • August On Chesil Beach, set in England
  • July The Last Chinese Chef, set in Shanghai
  • June The Birth House, set in Nova Scotia
  • May Water for Elephants, set in Depression-era America
  • March-April Snowflower and the Secret Fan, set in China
  • February Cloudstreet, set in Perth, Australia
  • January The Good German, set in Berlin
  • December The Historian, set in Eastern Europe
  • November One Good Turn, set in Edinburgh
  • September Lost in the Forest, set in Napa Valley
  • August The Hummingbird's Daughter, set in Mexico
  • July The Devil Wears Prada, set in NYC
  • June Woolf in Ceylon, set in Ceylon
  • May Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living, Australia
  • April The Mermaid Chair, set in South Carolina
  • March Memoirs of a Geisha, set in Japan
  • February Get a Life, set in South Africa
  • January In the Shadow of the Wind, set in Barcelona
  • December Pride and Prejudice, set in England
  • November Beyond Measure, set in Renaissance Italy
  • October Breakfast at Tiffany's, set in New York
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