SPICED. BY DALIA JURGENSEN
(library books and tea -- my favorite things!)
(detail of Dalia, the author, from the book's cover)
While picking up my library books, dvds, and cds (I love the inter-library loan system where EVERYTHING comes w/your name tucked into it and ready to devour) I glanced over at the biography section and noticed SPICED. I quickly judged the book by its cover -- lady memoir: check, pastry chef: check, cute haircut on writer: check -- and it was casually tossed onto my already large pile. When I got home, I made a cup of English Breakfast tea,* sat myself on our book-nook futon and took a peek at my newly-borrowed treasures. I decided to start with Spiced, by Dalia Jurgensen. And I decided to not stop reading it at most waking moments that weekend until I was done.
Jurgensen quit her day job in publishing to pursue a passion she felt in her gut -- she was hungry for food and cooking in a restaurant. Her change of direction and subsequent trials lead her through a weekend culinary program, stints with preparing savory food (her description of perfect hummus made me want to die in a pool of the stuff), catering, a job at Martha Stewart's test kitchen and eventually, to finding her niche within pastry. This book includes no recipes (her website does have a few though) and is intensely personal -- with the emphasis on being a woman in a predominately male industry. She can hang with the boys, and has battle scars and bad jokes to prove it. If you liked Anthony Bourdain's, "Kitchen Confidential," an account of how it really is in a restaurant kitchen (stressful, dirty and never order fish on a Monday), you'll like Jurgensen's female perspective on many of the same issues . . . Plus, she's so inspired when it comes to creating pastry -- it just sounds so luscious, tasty and precise. I do hope Dalia opens her own dessert cafe in Brooklyn one day and I could then dip my fingers in each of her desserts -- for now, go read Spice and drool a lot.
*English Breakfast is my tried-and-true tea flavor -- I deviate and dabble in others, but always return to my favorite. PG Tips is a nice brand, when loose leaf seems to complicated.