What I'm Reading

What I’ve Been Reading – 3/9/18

Late Night Paperwork Party This delightful description of what one family goes through to get Foreign Service vouchers processed and paperwork done is startlingly like the process my family goes through.  (Although Ashley is much more good natured about it than I am, for sure.)

Still Here encapsulates my feelings perfectly about my work right now.

The Dirty Secret of ‘Secret Family Recipes’: a delightful description of how so many folks of my generation are discovering that the beloved family recipes of our childhood are in fact by the large corporations that we love to hate on. Doesn’t matter. Still delicious.

Smartphones lost market share to feature phones in Africa last year, which comes as no surprise to anyone who lives where bandwidth is insanely expensive.

Books I’ve Been reading (in one paragraph or less)

China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa, by Howard French, is a fantastic exploration of Chinese migration to Africa, the diverse reasons for it, and what it might mean for Africa’s future. French toured over a dozen countries throughout the continent to get personal stories of both Chinese migrants and Africans businessmen, civil servants, and grassroots organizers. I found that the book more closely reflects my experiences before I joined State. Now that I’m one of those boring diplomats with strict constraints on what I can say publicly, especially to a reporter, the reflection of our policies towards China in the book saddens me. Read it for the fascinating stories of Chinese migrants and for the diversity of opinions on what this might mean.

The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South, by Michael Twitty is an exploration of Southern cooking through Twitty’s family history as enslaved people. I found it both heartbreaking and illuminating. This quote sums up the book better than I could:

It is not enough to be white at the table. It is not enough to be black at the table. It is not enough to be ‘just human’ at the table. Complexity must come with us – in fact it will invite itself to the feast whether we like it or not. We can choose to acknowledge the presence of history, economics, class, cultural forces, and the idea of race in shaping our experience, or we can languish in circuitous arguments over what it all means and get nowhere. I present my journey to you as a means out of the whirlwind, an attempt to tell as much truth as time will allow.

Read it for the food history, but savor how Twitty uncompromisingly reveals the complexity of the origins of Southern food, and how we ignore that history at our peril, as humans, and as a nation.

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