Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet ~ Food For Thought

Rating: ****

It is time for Food for Thought where we

*cook the books*, so to speak.

I'm joining the very talented

Jain, author of Once in Blue Moon

and of Food With Style

in this fun bi-monthly meme.

My book club chose to read

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet,

the first novel of Jamie Ford.

As is frequently the case, it would not have been my choice

but I'm glad they picked it.

I learned a great deal from reading this book.

This nostalgic book takes place in Seattle, Washington during World War II & gives a glimpse into the harsh reality of the
forced encampment of the Japanese people who lived there.

I was vaguely aware of the tragic circumstances of what was done to the Japanese in the Pacific Northwest during the war but this book makes you see it from the perspective of those who lived through it.

It follows the childhood love of a Japanese girl, Keiko & a Chinese boy named Henry, both of whom were born in America &
legitimate citizens of the United States
who were separated when her family was forced into an internment camp.

I found the characters believable but there was one scene where Henry sneaks into the camp to see Keiko & even spends the night but then is able to just walk out by mingling with a crowd in the morning.
Highly doubtful!!!
Implausible episodes such as this & a few loose ends
are the only reason I didn't give this 5 stars.

The book is written in alternating time periods
(not so frustrating to read,
as each chapter has the year as part of its title)
from Henry's point of view as a 13 yr-old &
that of a man in his late 50's.

It touches on the age old conflict between fathers & sons as well.
Henry's father's fierce national pride & deep seated hatred
of the Japanese for what they did to his family in China
cause devastating effects on his relationship with
his son when he learns about Keiko & their friendship.

Lucky for me, there were LOTS of food choices mentioned in the book,
because several were strange ones I would never imagine making.

(Note all the sticky bookmarks...
I keep a pack beside me whenever I'm reading now!)

At first I thought "apple pear" was a typo.
I wondered what he meant so
I went hunting for some information.

I found out that Nashi are sometimes called the Asian pear, however it has many names & is also known as a Japanese pear, Korean or Taiwan Pear or apple pear.

I learned that Nashi pears have a sweet taste & interestingly, they don't turn brown!
Makes them perfect for a Waldorf salad instead of apples.
I couldn't find any around here but will keep an eye out
for them & will make Waldorf salad for sure if I find some!

I decided to make Cathy's Egg Salad Sandwich
with bacon & lettuce

from her wonderful blog,

Wives with Knives

Cathy hails from Portland, Oregon
which is near the location of the
internment Camp Minidoka.
You may follow the link above to
read more about this National Historic site
that marks a sad page in America's history.

I also learned that when using chopsticks, to never point them directly at people
& never to stick them standing upright in the rice bowl,
because this is a reminder of the incense burned at funerals.

I learned of the Chinese custom of giving each guest, as they departed a funeral,
a small white envelope containing

a coin & a piece of candy.

This package is called bak gim or 'white gold'.
It symbolizes money or a gift from the deceased.

The candy was to be eaten immediately after the funeral
to sweeten the memory of the event.
The coin was to be spent on something that would
bring happiness to offset the sadness of the solemn time.

I think this is a wonderful custom &
I want Dove Chocolate to be given out after I die!!

I learned about the tradition of never filling your own teacup but
always doing that for someone else and allowing them to return the favor.

To me, a well written book is one that will make you think.

More importantly, it will make you feel & learn.

This one did all of that.

Thank you, Jain, for hosting Food For Thought

It is a challenge & a pleasure to participate &

I always come away better for doing so.

I hope everyone who visits the Gazebo House feels the same way.



  1. That egg salad sandwich looks divine! Your pictures are so sharp and beautiful. I love the tradition of a piece of candy after the funeral. Mine would be a candy bar from Germany called Erdbeer Milka. It is strawberry chocolate!

    Have a great weekend!

  2. Rett, I'm MIA for this event once again. Like you, I really enjoy FFT. I've learned from each amazing post that others have shared.
    This book sounds like one I would enjoy. It's fun to read a story and take away a new understanding about another culture. Thanks for sharing this one. The egg salad looks delicious. I just may have to fix this for lunch today. Excellent review! ~ Sarah

  3. I copied Cathy's recipe right away when I saw it - yours looks just as delicious..great photo.

    Enjoyed reading about the traditions you wrote, I think they define a culture in so many ways.

    Dove Chocolate would be a great choice - LOL

  4. Hi Rett, That egg sandwich looks so fluffy! I love your pictures. Ihave read 'war based' stories like these and they are very eye opening. its true that you learn so much esp of other cultures. Isnt FFT wonderfuL? I hope Ill be able to join in regularly ...i'll have to strive a slow reader...if its good i'll suck it like a sweet :)

    tq for dropping by and your very kind comments Rett. you have a kind heart :)

  5. Rett-You taught me a lot in this post! Pears that don't turn brwon would be great. I love the way you worked the egg salad in :) Your photos are wonderful! This is a period of our history that I don't know enough about. I am going to add it to my list. I think I will adopt your "life's too short..." philosophy. You are right! ~~Susan

  6. I feel that way! Thanks for visiting, Rett! I'm glad I found your blog, and I'll be back!

    I've seen this book in bookstores but didn't know much about it. You found some fascinating passages to share...I'm going to add this to my reading list.


  7. Ret~ You write the best book/food reviews!
    Your sandwich looks so delicious... and All American!
    Sounds like a very interesting book.

    I must comment on your recent comment on my blog! You are hysterical. I laughted soooo hard, right out loud! About you sulking away muttering under your breath! I could just picture it!!!! So funny! But I don't believe that for a minute. I don't think you really have it in you. Sweet thing!
    xo Yvonne
    PS. I was rooting for you, but shhhhhhh, don't tell anyone!

  8. Great review! Your sandwich looks soooo tempting and egg salad is something I can usually take or leave...of course, there was BACON on it :-)

    I do agree a good book should make you think, feel, or learn~ or better yet all three! I so enjoy seeing what everyone is reading. I've never heard of an apple pear~ I don't know if I'm in an area to ever see one at my market, but it's good to know it doesn't turn brown. I had to laugh when you said you wanted Dove Chocolate passed out when you die~ I knew we were kindred spirits :-)

  9. my vote would be for the dove as well- your pictures are so very sharp!!

  10. your pics and how far you have come, that sandwich shot could not be more appetizing if it was staged by hollywood and martha stewart :-)

    as you know i loved this book... it was such a disheartening time in our history, i think living in the west i was very aware of the injustices, but to read it is just another thwack between the eyes. i need thwacks now and then to make life more meaningful, to remember how lucky and blessed i truly am when you read what atrocities others have endured.

    love seeing your post it notes, we are twins! i hate when i sit down to read and forget to bring them with me, i think oh just read, there won't be any food and then bingo i am off to hunt for my stickies! i recycle mine too, i have 100s of brilliant colored rectangles just floating around the house now, transported by eager kitties and puppies...

    oh you must try an asian pear, they are fastastic! i have/had a tree, who knows, with deer things are never static around here... i love them warm and crunchy right off the tree. you can find them at costco in little white wrapped cushions in the clear containers.

    oh cathy's salad looks sooooooo good. a thing of beauty, who knew you could elevate egg salad to this status!

    i loved learning so much about the cultures, didn't you? well yes, i see you did, since you are going to be offering dove chocolates after your final chapter!

    what a wonderful review, i loved all your quotes and pics. i agree, i love to feel and learn from a book, it is soooooooo wonderful that we are able to share our books visually with each other, it just has enhanced reading tenfold for me to see others share so generously. thank you SOOOOO much for sharing at food for thought, its been such a treat for me~

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  12. Beautiful post and beautiful photos. Love the one of the egg salad sandwich!

  13. This is a wonderful review, Rett. You really have a gift for picking out the nub of the tale and passing it on. I really enjoyed reading your review. Thanks so much for your efforts as I know a lot of time and thought went into this.

  14. What an interesting post! You did a good job on the book review, Rett, and your photos as usual are fantastic. The food looks good too. Hope your finger is better and that you and DH are having a nice wknd! My daughter and son-in-law are here from Houston and we sure are enjoying them.
    Blessings, Beth

  15. One thing about a terrific blog is to learn something you didn't know before and I ALWAYS learn something from yours. Thank you for that, dear friend! Once again, I am enlightened with some interesting knowledge that is fun to know.

  16. I can't wait to get this book. Thanks for the review.

  17. Great post, Rett! Your sandwich looks wonderful, and every recipe of Cathy's I have tried I loved!

  18. Oh, the pic of that sandwich is wonderful and I'm so hungry! Our neighbors have 2 of those trees growing in their yard and they are full of fruit this year. Hope we get a few.
    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

  19. I came by to thank you for your lovely comments on my kind of you..and stayed to read your book review. Well done! I had not heard of this author, but will definitely look for the book next time I am at Chapters.
    I'm always eager for new authors to read...

    So nice to meet you...


  20. What a great post. I love egg salad, so you had me from the beginning. The book sounds interesting and I will have to watch for it.


  21. I am a new follower and a new member of the Bloggerette Society. I am making my rounds to "meet" all of the lovely ladies in the society. I would love for you to visit me @

  22. This book may have to be my next book choice in my book club... it sounds good. A very sad time in history.
    I love egg salad and your sandwich made with the bacon looks delicious!

  23. You pictures are stunning! And right now I'm reading this (along with three others) and I'm glad to hear it gets better!

  24. Rett, I really enjoyed this review. Your photos are just wonderful. I have a whole new appreciation for food staging. I must try it. I loved hearing all the tidbits about culture - the chopsticks ettiquette and tea pouring. Love the Dove chocolate idea! I have a craving for egg salad.

  25. What a wonderful review. When I get back to reading I'll have to pick this up. Interesting about the funeral candy. My husband started passing out tootsie roll pops at a funeral years ago, and the strange custom kinda stuck.

  26. Rett, What a most interesting post. I'll have to go to the library and find this book. Love how you tied in the food aspect, as well. I like a good party, so at my funeral, I want a big ol' buffet in my honor. Celebrate my life and enjoy, I say. I'd probably specify Esther Price turtles as my candy. I love that brand. Have you had it- made here in Dayton. Off to Kathy's in Mansfield tomorrow. Wish you could come. hugs, Sue


Thank you so much for leaving a comment. I read them all & each one is so very special to me & I try really hard to return the visit!