The last Friday in February, the book group met to discuss Wanderlust by Elisabeth Eaves. The nonfiction story of a woman who realizes in high school that she has an irresistible itch to travel would not seem to be controversial. The fact that she was incapable of doing so in the absence of a love interest in every locale was.
This book group is a fabulous circle of professional women--some originally from Alaska, one from New York, one from New Orleans--Alaska is fascinating in that sense, because maybe a quarter of the people I meet are originally from here. We span a diverse group of ages, ethnicities and experiences, but we were all united in one respect: none of us wanted to travel with this woman.
|Check out those fabulously colored rice cakes in the background, from one of |
the three Korean bakeries in Anchorage. Three?!? Who knew?
I loved her writing, and as someone who has done more traveling in the last three years than in the previous (ahem) thirty-five, I understand the urge to hear different languages, immerse oneself in different cultures and be completely peripatetic. However, must she act like an ugly American? And why does finding herself mean that she has to pick up a different man in every location? (I'm totally serious here. In the second half of the book, I couldn't keep track of which guy she was talking about.)
In the end, the book was pretty much roundly denounced and the conversation turned to what made a great travel companion. Well, that and the international variety of snacks that everyone brought in keeping with the book's theme.
So...garlic bread. It's the humblest of foods, but I never want to eat another storebought loaf coated with what seems to be garlic-flavored Crisco. I generally avoid it altogether in favor of roasted garlic cloves smeared on bruschetta. However, Lidia Bastianich's garlic bread is simple, quick and feeds a crowd. She has three variations in her book, one of which is a take on pan con tomate, but needless to say I'll wait until the tomatoes in Alaska look a little better before I try that one.
Garlic Bread Two Ways
Adapted from Lidia Bastianich's Italy in America
1 large loaf Italian bread, halved lengthwise and cut into twelve pieces
3 tbsp. good-quality olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. parsley flakes
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano, finely shredded
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
Combine the minced garlic and olive oil and allow to steep for half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and arrange the bread pieces on it., crust side down.
Using a basting brush, brush the pieces thoroughly with the garlic oil. Sprinkle half the pieces with the parsley and red pepper flakes, and the other half with the cheese.
Bake for five to eight minutes, until the slices are lightly browned. Serve immediately.