- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The best food

”This cultural divide persists. American cookbooks still tend toward the plain and encyclopedic, while British cookbooks have become increasingly conversational and evocative. As a result, each country has its own household names. Few Americans have heard of Jane Grigson, Nigella Lawson or Delia Smith; equally few Britons have heard of Julia Child or Craig Claiborne. If Britons have heard of Martha Stewart, it is more for her dodgy financial dealings than for her gingerbread.

”Britain and America are the two great cookbook-writing nations, which is not the same as being nations of great cooks. It is precisely because neither country can boast a coherent, admirable, traditional cuisine that cooks have such need of guidance and distraction. Nations with grand cooking traditions produce fewer, simpler cookbooks. Yet things are changing.

“France still churns out cookbooks that resemble textbooks, both in weight and charm. But the rise of women´s paid work has forced publishers to adapt. Modern French cookbooks have titles like ‘La Bonne Cuisine de nos Grand-Meres.’ They contain homely recipes that women once presumably knew by heart but have now forgotten because they spend too much time staring at spreadsheets. In an even greater concession to contemporary mores, French bookshops carry works written by Jamie Oliver, a chipper television chef from Britain, of all places.”

- From “Pluck a flamingo,” in the Dec. 18 issue of “The Economist”

The worst acting

Mike Myers and Paris Hilton were the big losers tonight at the Razzies. Myers was named worst actor for the flop comedy ‘The Love Guru,’ which was also named worst picture at the ceremonies in Hollywood.

”Hilton received three awards: worst actress for the comedy ‘The Hottie and the Nottie,’ worst supporting actress for the slasher musical ‘Repo: The Genetic Opera’ and a prize for being part of the ‘worst couple’ (both with a male and a female actor) in ‘The Hottie and the Nottie.’

“Pierce Brosnan won worst supporting actor dishonors for ‘Mamma Mia!’ while Germany’s Uwe Boll was named worst director for three movies, as well as receiving a special lifetime achievement award from the Razzies.

”What happened to Will Smith and ‘Seven Pounds’? It got shut out, which is a scandal!”

- Lou Lumenick, writing on “Myers, Hilton Take Top Razzies Honors; ‘Seven Pounds’ Shut Out,” on Feb. 21 at his New York Post blog

The best music

”Slumdog has created waves internationally in the past few months, but in India, [A.R.] Rahman has long been a household name. His music, mostly composed for Bollywood films, has ruled the airwaves for more than a decade. Year after year, Rahman, who started off as an ad-jingle composer, unfailingly spins out top-of-the-chart hits, each a mark of his versatility and penchant for experimentation.

” ‘He has put Indian music on top of the world. From here the future looks good and Rahman is solely responsible,’ Indian music director Shankar Mahadevan said after the Golden Globe awards. ‘Jai Ho,’ ‘O Saya’ and ‘Ringa Ringa,’ another score for Slumdog, have made it to global charts.

”A versatile composer, Rahman creates scores that are often a fusion of two or more oeuvres. In Slumdog, he blended classical Indian music styles and instruments such as the sitar with Western electronica, Brazilian drumming and reggae. Rahman has always liked to combine traditional musical instruments with electronic sounds and experiment with different technologies. … In many ways, the young Rahman revolutionized the Indian music scene. His aim, he said, was to make the music exciting enough to invite young listeners. In his native Tamil Nadu, they call him ‘the musical storm.’ ”

- Sunrita Sen, writing on “Slumdog brings music phenomenon Rahman global recognition,” on Feb. 18 in the South Asia News

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