Odds and Ends at the End

It’s the first day of the final week of the final “winter break” ever. Well, if you consider Monday the first day of the week. I do. Why doesn’t the week start on a Thursday? Thursday’s generally a non-disappointing day. But I digress in the most boring way. So yes, after seven years of having at minimum four weeks of down time between semesters, I’ve got one week of nothing left, and then Christmas and New Year’s are just what they should be – days, singular. Where’s the dislike button? What’s worse, I’ve got schoolwork to do this week on top of Fun Things. I’d far prefer solid Fun Things. What’s a girl to do?

Solve mysteries. Shaun and I solved a mystery yesterday: Cocoa v. cacao. There’s been a lot of cocoa and/or cacao-derived products in our lives recently, including this, and a trip here.* Oh, and Saturday at Blue Mountain Brewery [where we celebrated Shaun’s birthday] they had a chocolate bock – a white beer “infused with cacao nibs.” (A) TRY THIS BEER. You’re not going to believe the color, texture, or flavor, but be prepared to share. It’s a dessert beer. (B) “What the heck are ‘cacao nibs’?” I said, remembering that the French Broad brownie we had was a “cacao” brownie, but Shaun’s birthday cake was made with “cocoa” powder. Welp, cacao is the official name of the chocolate tree. It’s hypothesized that (1) that was either Anglicized into “cocoa” over the years or (2) “cacao” is the bean, “cocoa” refers to its derivations – namely, powder and butter. Either way, the “artisanal chocolate movement” is returning to the tree’s roots and referring to the product as its rightful cacao. Woo. You say cacao, I say cocoa.

Read books. Not to be deterred by my impending textbook binge, I continue to buy books on Amazon. I love acquiring books. I love reading them more, but it’s my dream to have a library a la Jefferson or the one at The Biltmore.** While I await shipment 2, I’m finishing up shipment 1/the pile I had before Christmas. I flew through Love is a Mixtape by Rob Sheffield most recently. If you live in Charlottesville or you love music, you will enjoy this book. You will also more clearly grasp my mixtape OCD, and this is honestly the first time I’ve read Sheffield. The guy gets me. And I hope to finish the following this week:

  • The Emperor of all Maladies [Siddhartha Mukherjee]: Shaun’s usually the non-fiction reader, while I find myself glued to fiction. But this book is changing me. It’s a 500-page biography of cancer, written in the most articulate yet interesting way. It tracks the disease from the writings of the Egyptians forward and also provides a history of related medical advancements like anesthesia and ailments like anemia. I’m hooked, fascinated, and terrified.
  • Best Food Writing 2011: A compilation of the best writing on food in 2011. Hah. But really, food writing can be so evocative and emotional. Some of the stories are hilarious. I read one or two a day, so as to not get too hungry.
  • Children Playing Before A Statue of Hercules [David Sedaris]: The last book in his collection I’ve got to read. Fitting for the last winter break EVER.

Tiny travel. Today: a trip to Richmond for registry time at Crate and Barrel [our CB registry currently only has one thing on it], and dinner at Bellytimber Tavern with Robin and Jamie! The last time we had dinner with them, they were discussing the plans for their wedding, and now the tides have turned. I’m sure we’ll stop at my favorite place on earth, too. And Saturday, back to Richmond to see Shaun’s parents and have a belated birthday celebration for both Shaun and his dad. More on that later.

Try to convince Shaun to subscribe to Hulu Plus so we can watch the entire series of “Noche de Perros” on Univision. Self-explanatory. It’s a dog talk show.

* In other news, the chocolate stout cake was a success. It might also be my favorite thing I’ve ever baked. It stayed moist for days in the fridge.

** This is why I don’t think I’ll ever own a Kindle. I’d rather read two books at once. A small one, like the Food Writing or Sedaris book, that travels well; and a big one like Maladies that can rest on my nightstand so I only have to lift it so far.


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Categories: Food


Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/courtney-marello/1a/375/b30 Tumblr: http://abarrelofoddsandends.tumblr.com/


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2 Comments on “Odds and Ends at the End”

  1. Laura McDonald
    January 19, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

    Not sure how you feel about comments (too invasive?), but here goes my second: I LOVE Emperor of all Maladies, though I have to admit I’m currently stuck about halfway through. It’s one of those situations where I know I’ll be happy once I pick it up, but for inexplicable reasons, I haven’t yet. The one downside is that I sometimes find that a bit of snobbish/snarkiness seeps into Mukherjee’s language, but that might just because I found him a little snobbish/snarky in an interview.

    • January 19, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

      (A) I LOVE comments, so thank you! (B) I’m about halfway now, too, and it definitely slows down a bit. The early, early history is fascinating, but when things stagnate in the 50s-70s and the trials seem cruel and nothing seems to work, I started to get disenchanted with it. Which interview was this? I’ll have to look it up. Let me know when you finish, we’ll have to discuss.

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