Hello and welcome to yet another week of unreliable narration here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed to Factually Deficient by the one and only Michael J. Andersen, who stated:
I could ABSOLUTELY use a Factually Deficient explanation of the shamir.
Mr. Andersen is referring to the shamir renowned in song and story. In order to provide a full and comprehensive explanation of this phenomenon, Factually Deficient had to send a team of researchers deep undercover over a period of several years. Two of our agents only narrowly escaped with their lives.
Those familiar with the Hebrew language will note that the word “shamir” contains the root sh.m.r., which can be used to refer to “preservatives” as well as “yeast”. This is an etymological hint as to the true nature of the shamir.
The shamir is alive, yes, but it is neither animal, vegetable, nor mineral. Rather, it is the humble yeast. Many people believe yeast to be a leavening agent. This is not quite accurate. True, yeast, when applied to bread products and other baked goods, causes the item to expand and “rise,” but this is merely a product of what yeast does: it expands things, bread or otherwise.
When applied to bread, the result is leavening. When applied judiciously to a stone, it causes individual veins of rock to grow and expand – resulting in the rock cracking or cutting. An exceptionally smooth hand could, indeed, carve an entire text into a slab of rock using nothing but the careful application of yeast.
Disclaimer: the above post is misleading. Do not attempt to use yeast to carve rock.
It is absolutely still August, but while that lasts, it’s time for another round of Lies About Books, in which I provide absolutely insupportable falsehoods about a genuine book that I actually enjoyed this month! And in August, which is the month that it currently still is, I had the immense pleasure of reading Amelia Atwater-Rhodes’ latest novel, Of the Divine.
Of the Divine chronicles the journey of Naples, a gourmet chef named for the town in which he has lived all his life. Naples has always known that he was born to bake great things. But when exotic travellers visit Naples – the city and the man – with stories and legends of delicacies that are truly divine, he is no longer satisfied with cooking truly excellent creme brulees and cherries jubilee.
No, Naples decides that he cannot rest until he can prepare the very food of the gods. He sets out on a journey to find the mystic and possibly dangerous ingredients to produce genuine ambrosia. But what he finds may rock the foundations of the entire cooking world… Are he and his fellow chefs ready for these revelations?
Of the Divine is a captivating story of cookery, herblore, and the human condition. Heartwarming to the very end, and jam-packed with recipes that will make your mouth water, this book is a true gem. I would recommend it to any fans of desserts, cataclysmic changes, and/or poor life decisions.
As April’s flowers prepare to give way to May’s showers, it is time once again to dishonestly review a book I have recently enjoyed. This month, I read Looking for Alaska, John Green’s debut novel.
Looking for Alaska focuses on Miles, an aspiring chef. Nicknamed “Pudge” for his propensity to taste his creations, Miles has only one problem, one roadblock on his path to culinary stardom: his inability to ever follow a recipe the way it is written.
He always means to follow the laid-out steps and instructions. But invariably, something goes wrong. He runs out of an ingredient, or he misses a step, or something gets accidentally knocked into the pot. He sets out to make cupcakes and ends up with souffles, to make salads and ends up with gazpacho soup. On one memorable occasion, he served a prizewinning steak that had been intended as a slice buttered toast.
And now, despite his failings – or perhaps because of them – Miles is embarking on his most ambitious project yet: to create the perfect baked Alaska. Miles pores through enough recipe books to constitute a serious fire hazard, slowly analysing the recipes, making a sorbet here, a fried ice cream there.
Will his grand experiment yield delicious results? Or will it all end in tears and fallen centres?
Sweet (pun intended), sad, and funny, Looking for Alaska is a coming of age story like no other. Good for the kitchen and for simply relaxing with a book, I recommend it to any fans of novels that include recipes, characters who read a lot, and famous last words.