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A look at books- Irish food and fiction

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Painted With Words
By Lara Marlowe

Lara Marlowe is best known as a distinguished foreign correspondent for The Irish Times, but she is equally well known in Ireland for her writings on French art.  Painted With Words is her luminous new collection of essays on some of the world’s greatest painters.

“Painting is not done to decorate apartments,” wrote Pablo Picasso. “It is an instrument of war against brutality and darkness.”

It’s perhaps inevitable that Marlowe, who has spent decades contemplating brutal regimes who spread brutality and darkness herself, should turn to art for solace, and perhaps to remind herself (and us) of what is greatest in human nature.

Sometimes an image can be a talisman that you carry with you, and the memory of it can sustain you in even the darkest times. All the while we’ve know her as a world class foreign correspondent, it appears that Marlowe has also been a philosopher of art and the human condition.

In Painted With Words, her introduction to the achievements of some of the worlds greatest painters is one of the most insightful and heartening books I’ve read on the subject of art and artists in over a decade.
Dufour, $44.95.

Fifty Years Have Flown: The History of Cork Airport
By Donal O’Drisceoil and Dairmuid O’Drisceoil

CORK Airport celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, and in this lively and beautifully illustrated new book the writers have produced an affectionate and often very funny portrait of the airport down the years.

It began, like so many Irish tales, with a scramble. In 1961 the airport was still a building site two weeks before it was scheduled to open.

First there was the Irish rain, then the Irish cement strike (don’t ask) and dust was everywhere, clouding the windows of the aircraft and the arrivals hall. But after one almighty final push the construction workers and staff somehow pulled it off and history was made.

It wasn’t all bright. There was the dreadful 1968 Tuskar Rock tragedy (an air crash resulting in Aer Lingus’ greatest loss of life). There was also the 1985 Air India disaster.

But the airport was also a glamorous outpost for celebrity sightings, returning sports teams and tony social events. This book is the most handsomely illustrated and evocative memoir of 50 years of aviation in Cork.
Dufour, $45.95.

Farmhouses Cheeses of Ireland
By Glynn Anderson and John McLaughlin

THERE are 40 shades of green, but countless hundreds of varieties of Irish farmhouse cheese. If all you’ve ever tasted is mild cheddar, this book might be your guidepost to a richer, tastier world.

The Irish produce world-class dairy. For proof of this watch Irish butter fly off the shelves in supermarkets in New York City. There’s an inimitable creamy richness to Irish products that is the result of fertile land, an ideal climate and centuries of farming traditions.

It’s no wonder our excellence is acknowledged internationally. As well as introducing you to many of the most delicious cheeses you will ever taste, this vividly illustrated book will teach you recipes to experience their cheeses in their best possible lights.

For gourmets and for anyone interesting in expanding their knowledge of world-class Irish cheeses, this book is the go to guide.
Collins Press, $44.95.

Every Goose Thinks His Wife Is a Duck
The Irish Case For Laughing, Crying and Drinking Through Life
By Robert Sullivan

“LIFE is a long preparation for something that never happens,” said W.B. Yeats once, marvelously.

A talent for seeing and saying profound things in a way that can startle and make you smile at the same time is an Irish gift. Charm, it turns out, has always been a valued commodity, as has style.

“I never wake without finding life a more insignificant thing than it was the day before,” wrote Jonathan Swift.
The Irish awareness of the ultimate absurdity of things, even the most serious questions of life and death, may stem from centuries of peering into the abyss of colonialism and its horrifying consequences. There’s nothing like ruinous suffering to drive a man or woman to think.

What makes Sullivan’s book stand out from other run of the mill collections of the best of Irish quotations is that he has curated it with no distinction between poet, pop star or politician. All are eminently capable of offering insights and this lively volume is certain to entertain.
CreateSpace, $15.99.

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