Much like her earlier work, Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil, Rodriguez does a great job of getting into the details of expat life in A Cup of Friendship. She also does a good job of really showing the reader what everyday Afghanis live like, in opposition to what most of the world – especially Americans – are shown in the media.
There are quite a few different things that Gopnik does in The Table Comes First, some better than others. One of the things that he does particularly well is chart the evolution of food and culinary thinking in France throughout the ages, and explain how the history of how people have seen food has influenced the way we look at food now.
Let’s start with what I loved about this book. I loved the way that Obejas wove Cuban and Cuban-American culture so integrally into this Memory Mambo. I loved the cultural and linguistic references, and I just generally found it extremely satisfying to read a story about a woman from her own perspective, talking about how her life and her choices affect (and are affected by) her culture and family.
Despite the fact that I’ve been living in an Arab country for almost two years now, there are still many aspects of Arab culture that I’m not exposed to in the UAE. Partly, this is because locals are so outnumbered by expat non-Arabs, but this is also simply because we see or hear a lot of things but don’t always understand them.
I cannot possibly say enough good things about this book.