Snippets from Books

Digging to AmericaFrom Digging to America by Anne Tyler:

Sami, an American-born Iranian American, describes Ziba (born and raised in Iran), whom he meets at a U.S. university:

He passed her on the library steps where she was eating a snack with a friend, and her snack was not chips or Ring Dings but a pear, which she was slicing into wedges with a tiny silver knife like the ones his mother set out with the fruit tray after every meal.

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From The D-Day Companion: Leading historians explore history’s greatest amphibious assault:

Anne Frank…recorded the events in the diary:
“Could we be granted victory this year, 1944? We don’t know yet, but hope is revived within us; it gives us fresh courage, and makes us strong again.”

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From Love in the Time of Cholesterol, A Memoir with Recipes, by Cecily Ross:

That evening, Basil devoured Dean Ornish’s book and then insisted that I read it, too. And “extreme” about sums it up. Basically, Ornish’s “reversal diet” is very low in fat, low in cholesterol, high in fiber, excludes all dairy except low-fat yogurt, all animal products, all caffeine. Alcohol, sugar and salt are allowed in small amounts. Nuts, avocados and seeds are not. So what’s left? Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and lentils, seasoning, and herbs.

A description of Chilean sea bass being prepared in a posh Toronto restaurant, which is popular possibly because it is marked ‘steamed’:

I watched as the sous chef at the fish station laid out a dozen banana leaves, carefully arranged julienned carrots, leeks, and lime leaves on each one, and topped the veggies with a fat fillet of putre white sea bass. Then, before folding the leaves into neat square packages for steaming, he placed on each fillet a slab of seasoned butter that was at least equal to a quarter cup per serving. “Boy, that’s a lot of butter,” I said…”That’s why restaurant food tastes so good,” he said. “It’s the butter.”

(She also has some interesting descriptions of Canadian health care–her husband gets good care, but has to wait in emergency rooms. Not too bad).
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From Jews and Power, by Ruth Wisse:

“In Warsaw in the autumn of 1939, shortly after the Germans captured the city and before they had walled up the Jews in a ghetto, a couple of Nazi soldiers were seen harassing a Jewish child on the street. The child’s mother ran out…and said “Come inside the courtyard and za a mentsh.” The word mensch–which in German means “man” or “human being”–acquires in Yiddish the moral connotation of “what a human ought to be.” In her Polish-inflected Yiddish the mother was instructing her son to become a decent human being.

Later, on the destruction of the Second Temple and Exile:

The Talmud’s discussion opens with the curious case of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza, names likened by one scholar to Tweedledum and Tweedledee and obviously destined to be confused.

In her footnotes, she encourages the reader to Google “Kamtza Bar Kamtza” to view selective applications of this story to current affairs.

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