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Going with the Grain : A Wandering Bread Lover Takes a Bite Out of Life Paperback – Bargain Price, May 18, 2004


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$18.03 $6.94

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--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (May 18, 2004)
  • ISBN-10: 0743255518
  • ASIN: B000C4T27Q
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,049,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Going with the Grain Susan Seligson, "wandering bread lover" and well-published journalist, takes us on a trip around the world. The one thing that these far-flung locations and cultures share--from the Jordanian desert to Saratoga Springs, New York to Shanagarry, Ireland--is bread. Each chapter is a short story in itself. Most of them tell the tale of a well-traveled soul, filled with wanderlust and obsessed with bread. The staple of every culture she visits, the breads come in every size, color, shape, texture, and flavor imaginable, but the real stories lie in the making and baking. Some of her destinations have absolutely no other attraction except the bread and its baker, but the richest among them offer much more than that. Seligson is curious and energetic, open-minded and funny--a combination that makes for interesting reading. Explore the magical Brijendra's kitchen in New Delhi; learn the almost confidential recipe for the United States Army's bread (patent 5059432, with a three-year shelf life); and meet Huntsville, Alabama native Aunt Eunice, famous for her Country Biscuits (recipe included). If you love to eat (and not just bread) and love to travel, Seligson is an entertaining companion. --Leora Y. Bloom --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Seligson's no loafer; her quest for bread from French baguettes to lab-crafted field rations courtesy of the U.S. military takes her around the world and across America, five countries and six U.S. cities in all as she explores cultural difference and identity through a common creation. As Seligson explains, "My lifelong love affair with bread has less to do with crust, crumb, and the vagaries of sourdough cultures and more to do with bread as a reflection of people's varied beliefs, daily lives, and blood memories." Serious stuff, but Seligson best known as a journalist and children's book author (Amos: The Story of an Old Dog and His Couch) leavens this offering with keen observations and a wicked sense of humor. She starts off in Morocco, where Fesi women rise at dawn to prepare the dough that will be baked as it has for centuries in huge communal hearths. Stops in the U.S. include Eunice's Country Kitchen in Huntsville, Ala., where the spitfire proprietress helps maintain the down-home feel of the former cotton-farming town turned NASA hub by serving up biscuits, ham and red-eye gravy, and the Wonder Bread plant in Biddeford, Maine, which emits no discernible smell. Seligson ends her tour in Paris, where, after a decade-long denigration of traditional technique, legislation was passed to protect and maintain the art of the boulanger. Seligson's debut essay collection is as smart and evocative as it often is laugh-out-loud funny.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Pellegrino on January 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I was really looking forward to reading this book. I'm a serious home bread baker and assumed the author must be a baker too. Not so. Her style is witty and and an easy read, but as the book went on I found the chapters less about bread and more about the author's adventures. The recipes she included are mostly unusable. There is a factual error in one of her statements, that ever since Tuscans started omitting salt from their bread several hundred years ago, Italians have been making saltless bread ever since. NOT true! The recipe for French bread after all the rhapsodizing on artisanal French breads was for one made in a bread machine. Please ! The sections on Morocco and Jordan were outstanding, and those on the Wonder bread factory and the US military's Frankenbread were terrific contrasts.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By stackofbooks on December 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Susan Seligson does a wonderful job of capturing two fun genres in one book-travel and food history. Going with the Grain is a bread lover's delight. The book is not about recipes although there are a few scattered here and there. Instead, Seligson uses bread as a quirky tour guide to take us all around the world. "In Arabic, the word for bread and life is the same, aysh" Seligson explains.
Going with the Grain takes us to Morocco, Saratoga Springs, NY, India, Ireland and many more places. The common thread running through all these travelogues is of course the bread Seligson seeks out in each adventure. Often times even the bread is only an incidental player in her travel tales (bread recipes it seems are a closely guarded secret in many places). Never mind. We warm up to Seligson's descriptions anyway and watch her chat away with the locals enviously.
Seligson is sometimes a little too eager to point out that she is not another shutter-happy tourist. While she disdains fellow Americans who drops names at the slightest excuse, she refers to herself as a "self-respecting subscriber of the New York Review of Books." Her language sometimes tries too hard to be funny. Sentences such as: "He can feel your pain" (get it!?) serve mostly just to annoy. I also felt that the narrative could have been well supplemented with the inclusion of photographs. It would have been nice for example to see pictures of the Pueblo horno ovens or the Ballymaloe in Ireland.
Despite these points, Seligson comes across as a warm person with a genuine interest in lives lived all around the world. I also appreciated the segments on the Wonder Bread factory and the army bread project in Natick, Massachusetts, aspects of bread not everyone would have spent the time researching.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By P. Lozar on March 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This isn't just another travel book with a gimmick: as Seligson points out, bread is central to almost every culture in the world, so observing how people make their distinctive form of bread tells us a great deal about their approach to life in general. The author is curious, a good observer, and respectful of the people she visits; so not only are her stories fascinating, but she's able to take us into situations where tourists are rarely welcome. I was favorably impressed with her chapter on horno bread: when it turns out that the pueblos aren't eager to welcome yet one more travel writer, she respects their wishes and adopts a low-key approach rather than becoming invasive (or writing a whiny "my bad experiences with the Indians" piece, which seems to be a far too common practice!). (I should add that horno bread varies widely: the loaf she tried was uninteresting, but I recently got a loaf from San Felipe pueblo that's right up there with the boutique farm breads.) As a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, I was sorry that Seligson didn't explore sourdough in more depth, although, as she notes briefly, commercial starters have taken their toll (so it's not just cranky old age that makes me insist that "it doesn't taste as good as it used to"!). But that's just a quibble; in general, the book is fun to read and surprisingly informative, and I recommend it highly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By sjchaney on August 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
What a joyful, exuberant book this is. Seligson is compassionate, funny, self-effacing, inciteful and fearless. Unless you're humor impaired you'll laugh throughout while this intrepid reporter hops around the globe showing us how diverse cultures worship the ancient tradition of bread making.

Her writing is filled with fine-honed, priceless gems. I love this book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. Lee on July 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed the first chapter of the book which was what I expected the book to be about i.e. bread in one global country. As each chapter went by, the book became less about bread and more about the author forcing her personality on the reader. It was a limited collection of travelogues, many in the USA, with bread as the intended link between chapters. If you want to read a second rate travel book with something about bread in each chapter this is the book for you. If you want to read a well thought out book on comparitive breads around the world look elswhere.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Lovinger on January 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I had to keep reading tidbits to my wife, for fear she would steal the book away from me when I put it down. In reading Susan Seligson's book, "Going with the Grain", I learned a lot more about bread, than I thought I would be interested in. If someone would have suggested reading a book on bread, I would have turned it down," another cook book". I love cookbooks, but this is no cookbook. Although I have tried a few of the recipes at the end of each chapter, that were quite successful.
I love traveling, and have been to a number of the countries that Susan traveled to. I felt drawn into every location, by her descriptive and exhilarating style, and intrigued by the people she came in contact with. Each chapter would bring me to a very different culture, with people and their cuisines as diverse from each other, as their breads were.
Susan seems to have her own unique way of getting herself in and out of interesting situations. This makes for some very fun and upbeat reading. You really want to know what she will be up to next. I thoroughly enjoyed this delightful book.
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