Thursday, October 25, 2007

Find me now at the new Rabelais Books Blog.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Wake to Songbirds, Wake to Crows
photographs by Jonathan Levitt

This coming Friday, July 6th, we're opening our first exhibition at Rabelais, photographs by Jonathan Levitt. Levitt's two series of photographs explore cycles of dream and sustenance. "It was not long ago when people didn't leave. The stoves, the roast, the eggs and the yellow fat, the wool and the milk and the mutton. All breathing together." [from the artist's statement]. For more of the artist's statement and some images, check here.

Friday, June 15, 2007

some interesting recent reading

Beyond the huge pile of books currently in reading rotation on the bed table, there's some interesting reading on these days. The Zagat's (of restaurant guide fame) have an op-ed in today's NYTimes about the dearth of real Chinese food in America, and predict a new age of tastes and techniques when real Chinese finally his our shores. Reason has a review of Barry Glassner's new debunking project, The Gospel of Food: Everything you Know About Food is Wrong. Glassner takes on various elements of the food industry, particularly nutritionists, who reduce food to an nutrient intake problem and dismiss the element of taste and the joy that can go with it.

Sushi's been getting alot of attention lately, with two books, Sasha Issenberg's Sushi Economy and Trevor Corson's The Zen of Fish arriving on our shop tables simultaneously. Nick Tosches weighs in in Vanity Fair with a long, and characteristically muscular article.

Friday, June 08, 2007


A contemporary history of French bread, the way it is made, and the people who make it.
Steven Laurence Kaplan's new history of the decline, fall and rise of French bread is reviewed at length in the new issue of the Time Literary Supplement. The review itself is a good, quick introduction to the history of bread in France and to its decline due to the increasing industrialization of what is, in the end, almost an alchemical process. Kaplan's book concludes, “It is worth recalling, in the end, that good bread depends above all on the quality of the men and women who make it”. We'll have the new book in the shop at the end of next week.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Rabelais update

New things are flying at us fast and furious since we've opened. The shop is humming along now with new things arriving all the time. Initial frustrations with new book distributors have given way to regular reorders and new shipments. The press has generated solid interest in those outside the initial circle of highly motivated food professionals, and we're already getting to know our "regulars". We've been buying quite a bit: some older cookbooks here and there, a good number of boxes of quality recent items from someone in the middle of a move, and a solid mid-range library of wine books from New York.

On the trip to pick up the New York books, I visited my friend Dan and bought some terrific early titles, including a first edition of the seminal bread book, Le Parfait Boulanger, by Parmentier (1778). Parmentier's book is the first to reference the use of salt in the baking of bread, and also makes early notice of brewer's yeast.

We've added a few inscribed books recently as well, including books or pamphlets inscribed by Alexis Lichine, James Beard, Julia Child and Andre Simon.

Our bestseller continues to be Herve This' Molecular Gastronomy, a serious book which has given us a real sense of how serious our customers are. Another hot item has been Martin Picard's Au Pied du Cochon, perhaps the most aggressive assertion in cookbook form since Ferran Adria's El Bulli volumes.

Our first in-store event is coming up this weekend, an appearance by Nancy English, author of Chow Maine on the publication of the new, revised edition of this classic guide to food in Maine. Be there and meet her and get your new copy on Saturday, June 2nd, 1-3 pm.

Friday, April 27, 2007

thanks for the press!

Our first two weeks have been even better than planned, thanks to generous coverage from the Portland press and some independent bloggers. Our first mention was by the secretive author of the Portland Pssst, followed by local bartender and booze historian John Myers on his must-read local blog, The Thirstin' Howl (scroll down to 'When the Lord Closes a Door' for the story). Chris Busby's The Bollard wrote us up yesterday (click on the 'Briefs' button). We've also had a nice story by Avery Yale Kamila in the Maine Switch, and this week a profile of the shop by Jason Wilkins appeared in The Portland Phoenix. Wednesday morning, Nancy English, author of Chow Maine and The Coast of Maine, chatted freely about us on Steve Hirshon's morning show on WMPG. I'd also like to thank poet Robert Gibbons for a lovely prose poem he wrote after his first visit to Rabelais and which I hope to reporoduce here once I get his permission. Thanks all!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Rabelais is open!

Finally we've opened. Smack in the middle of two snow storms, two blackouts, the New York Book Fair, a quick appraisal job in New Mexico, and much more, we've managed to pull it together, tear down the brwon paper on the windows and let in the public. Initial response has been terrific, especially from Portland's professional food community. More news soon, but here are a few pictures.