East and West


Excited to read that Penguin Classics are republishing four Asian-American authors from the 20th century. Each of the books (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino) sounds so good and also so pertinent to today’s issues that I’d want to read them all.

Ayesha, at last

One of my favourite reads recently has been a retelling of Pride and Prejudice from Uzma Jalaluddin set in the Toronto Muslim community, “Ayesha at last”. Unlike the original you get to see inside the heads of both protagonists, and there’s also a delightful twist at the end where you get a glimpse of the Darcy-character living his new, more mischievous life. Add to that some excellent side characters and the fact that the Kindle edition is only 99p and it’s a must buy. I’m just sorry that the publisher seems to have underestimated the print run as paper copies have sold out nothing in the states and here in the U.K.

Uzma also writes a column in the Toronto Star called “Samosas and Maple Syrup”. Here are a couple of examples, one on feminism and her sons and one on the interaction she between children and their grandparents. 

Palazzo Massimo


A three minute walk from the main Rome train station is part of the national museum’s collection, the Palazzo Massimo.


If you’d said to me before would I want to spend a morning looking at Roman art, I’d probably have said no (too many memories of the British Museum’s overcrowded and ill-displayed galleries), but as with so many things, a look at Simon Martin’s Instagram page put me onto it.


And I’m so glad we went – it was a whistle stop tour of the best part of a thousand years of power and art, and by the end the medieval age had definitely begun.


All pics December 2018. From the archives this time last year: the Rodin museum.

The food of both depends on memory

“Jewish food and black food crisscross each other through history. They are both cuisines where homeland and exile interplay. Ideas and emotions are ingredients – satire, irony, longing, resistance – and you have to eat that food to extract the memories. The food of both diasporas depends on memory….I love that almost the entirety of the Jewish population will sit down for a Seder and discuss and debate the ancient lessons of slavery versus freedom while using an edible Torah to process these lessons in their body – through all the sense available to the eater.

Passover is, thus, my favourite meal. Why not? I am the descendant of enslaved people. I take it personally.”

Michael Twitty, writing in his examination of black Southern cooking, genetic and cultural identities and the enslaved history through food, The Cooking Gene. Here he reflects on how food can be more than just an experience of appetite.