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09/01/2017Finally available in English, this 1943 Turkish classic from a journalist twice imprisoned for his political views limns the emotionally wrought relationship between a reserved young Turkish man and an unconventional woman artist in interwar Berlin. The novel starts somewhat slowly as a narrator introduces us to his colleague Raif Efendi, invisible at work and used badly at home. But when Raif takes over the narration, explaining that as a young man he traveled to Berlin to learn a new language and see the larger world, the story picks up speed, depth, and flair. To a naïf from the Turkish countryside, the 1920s Berlin intimately detailed here initially proves overwhelming. At an art exhibit, he is enthralled by the portrait of a woman in a fur coat, then meets and falls for artist Maria Puder herself. Maria has strong views about men and relationships that will resonate with contemporary readers, and her affair with Raif unfolds cautiously. But their long-term plans are thwarted when they fail to reconnect after Raif is called back to Turkey, and his heartbreak is moving and palpable. VERDICT Ali's affecting story of love and loss is both timeless and grounded in its distinctive setting, with sometimes old-fashioned charm that will appeal to many readers.
[Pg 130] These four figures, disposed in the manner that has been described,made a very handsome and magnificent composition, and had all theappearance of marble, because a coat of white had been laid over the clay,which resulted in a very beautiful effect. From this level, upon whichthe above-named figures rested, there rose another base, likewise rectangularand about four braccia high, but smaller in length and breadththan that below by the extent of the projection and cornice-work uponwhich those figures rested; and on every side this had a painted compartmentsix braccia and a half in length and three in height. Abovethis rose a platform in the same manner as that below, but smaller; andupon every corner, on the projection of a socle, sat a figure of the size oflife, or rather more. These were four women, who, from the instrumentsthat they had, were easily recognized as Painting, Sculpture, Architecture,and Poetry; placed there for reasons that have been perceivedin the narration of Michelagnolo's Life.
His smile was so happy that Iris thought he looked both festive and good, as though a saint had deserted his shrine, knocking his halo a trifle askew in the process, in order to put a coat of sunburn over his pallid plaster.
Around him capered a dog which had some connection with the breed of Old English sheepdog; but his original line had slipped and he was suppressed in the family tree. During a recent hot spell, his shaggy coat had been clipped, transforming him to a Walt Disney creation. 2b1af7f3a8