Using Rock Salt for Cooking and A Few Other Things I Read Recently…


In addition to a fascinating book about library design entitled Library Planning, Bookstacks, and Shelving (1911), I’ve been reading some cookbooks recently, namely Diana Kennedy’s _The Cuisines of Mexico_ (1972) and Ottolenghi’s _Plenty_ (2011).  Both are excellent cookbooks and each very much of its time.  To read Kennedy’s book is to be transported back to New York City in the early 1970s (she makes it a point to test her recipes both in Mexico and in New York City, where she must make due with the limitations of the ingredients commonly available).  Somewhat surprisingly, she recommends cooking with rock salt available from the hardware store for icing sidewalks.  I’m not sure that anyone continues doing this, but I thought it was interesting that that was even possible.  I have also recently finished re-reading Reyner Banham’s _Theory and Design in the First Machine Age_, which I can’t recommend highly enough for anyone interested in the history of architecture and technology in the first half of the twentieth century, and E. T. A. Hoffman’s _The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr_ (1820), which is a novel that I’m really embarrassed to say I had not read in the past.  The book, which is incredibly experimental in its structure, is composed of two separate narratives, one written by the cat Murr, and the other made up of a biography of Hoffman’s alter ego, Johannes Kriesler, which is included only because the pages of that book were, when not being used by Murr as blotting paper, mistakenly incorporated into his manuscript.  Needless to say, the novel recalls the work of both Sterne and Swift and looks forward to many postmodern works.  I definitely recommend reading it.