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Good Taste

Rich chocolate, sweet apples, spicy pepperoni…have you ever thought about how important flavor is in our lives, not only in these tasty foods but in our surroundings? We are fortunate to live in a state full of its own “flavors,” such as the natural beauty of the mountains and caves, four distinct seasons, an increasingly diverse population, and even flavorful dialects.

There are certain culinary flavors that folks recognize as pure Kentucky-on-a-plate, such as the hot brown, bourbon balls, or beer cheese. You can find recipes for these traditional favorites, bed and breakfast specialties, and chef signature dishes in Lexington Herald-Leader food writer Sharon Thompson’s cookbook, Flavors of Kentucky (McClanahan Publishing House, $24.95). Several selections emphasize the use of Kentucky-grown products such as goat, tilapia, and asparagus. Full-color photos accompany each recipe.

Lexington photographer John Snell has beautifully preserved the many flavors of Kentucky’s Red River Gorge in his first book, Red River Gorge: The Eloquent Landscape (Acclaim Press, $39.95). Arriving at the Gorge many times before sunrise, Snell’s talented eye captures the moments most of us never see, such as the changing colors of the rock faces as the sun paints the morning sky. I had the privilege a few years ago of attending a nature photography class Snell taught near Red River Gorge. His passion for not only photography, but for the area itself, was as evident in his lecture as in his artwork. The coffee-table book is divided into subjects, including Awakenings, Blossoms, and Through Different Eyes. Snell also includes an appendix on the best hiking trails in the area.

Odessa and Maxine, the two retired ministers’ wives in Versailles author Annie Jones’ novel The Sisterhood of the Queen Mamas (Steeple Hill Books, $13.95), can definitely be classified as flavorful. Odessa is a classic busy-body who always feels the need to do some match-making or to fix other people’s problems while never really facing her own. Maxine is a strong and confident woman who spends most of her time keeping Odessa in line by use of her quick wit and outspoken honesty. The two find themselves in a real Nancy Drew adventure as they uncover reasons why their community wants to close the Five Acres of Fabulous Finds Flea Market, all while Odessa tries to find a wife for the new single minister who is an SIPYCM, or “Still in Play Young Christian Male.” Jones has cleverly written the tale as if chatty Odessa is telling the reader the story with interjections by Maxine as everyone shares a cup of coffee. For anyone who feels they are too past their prime to be useful anymore, these two characters will provide plenty of giggles and encouragement.

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