Friday, April 08, 2016

Booknote: Cocteles con historia

Julio Patán, Cocteles con historia: guía definitiva para el borracho ilustrado. Mexico D.F.: Editorial Planeta Mexicana, 2014.  ISBN: 978-607-07-2476-3.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: Spanish, cocktails, alcoholic spirits, essay, memoir, recipes
Format: Paperback
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library

I have not read in Spanish for a while, so when I saw this in my local public library, I picked it up. The book is a collection of fairly erudite essays on various alcoholic spirits and a few historical cocktails like the Rusty Nail and the Negroni. In total, we get 40 essays that discuss a bit about the spirit or cocktail, a bit on the celebrities who may have made a cocktail famous-- like Hemingway and Daiquiris--, and other miscellaneous trivia. In addition, the book features two opening essays, an introduction by the author, a small section with a selection of celebrity cocktails-- for example, Luis Buñuel's way to make a dry martini--, and some classic recipes in case you feel moved to try to make your own.

The book is very interesting at times. However, the author's tendency to use anglicisms or to selectively translate some things into Spanish that may or not need translation did throw my reading off a bit. Some of that was either author laziness or perhaps the need for better editing. Still, the book is one I liked. Some essays were better than others, and essay length could vary from one or two pages to a few pages. Overall, a nice read.

3 out of 5 stars.

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Additional reading notes (please note: for this review, the quotes coming from the book are in Spanish. My translation of the quote is right below).

From the book's back description:

"En esa línea de pensamiento, este libro propone un recorrido emocional y cultural por nuestras bebidas favoritas, alcoholes que hemos elegido por su sabor, perfume, o precio pero también por los recuerdos que evocan en nuestra memoria ya que, como dice el autor, 'forman parte de nuestra vida emocional, de nuestra nostalgia, de nuestros afectos.'"

"Along that line of thought, this book proposes an emotional and cultural tour of our favorite drinks, alcohols that we have selected for their flavor, aroma, or price but also for the reminiscences they evoke in our memory since, as the author states, 'they form a part of our emotional life, of our nostalgia, of our affections.'"

The book does have a bit of old school feel to it; some of the essays can be evocative of a bygone era when  drinking well was a serious and often solemn business. Though at times it can also evoke a bit of the modern hipster image. Again, I am reminded of a certain mixologist in a certain piece of advertising (link to YouTube).

The book does have some poetic moments, such as this remark on making a toast:

"En su versión ritual, el brindis es una forma de sacralización de lo cotidiano. Una manera de volver significativo lo evanescente" (12)

"In its ritual version, the toast is a form of making the mundane sacred. A way to turn the evanescent into something significant." 

Another issue that distracted a bit from the reading experiences was the book's layout with pages in varying colors from white with black lettering to black with white lettering, blue, so on. It was a bit jarring to read. This was not a good moment to be playing around with colors and layouts.

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This book qualifies for the following 2016 Reading Challenges:

1 comment:

A Day in the Life on the Farm said...

I would need you to translate the whole book LOL