Recommended diversions

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Margaret Lea, the daughter of an antique book collector, receives a curious letter from one of England’s most famous and eccentric authors, Vida Winter, who asks Lea to write her biography. What unravels in this expertly crafted story is the never before told 13th tale that has eluded all others who have tried to document Ms. Winter’s life. At long last, perhaps Lea will find truth in an author’s fictional world of ill-fated romances, twins with a mysterious power, and a haunted mansion. Each character offers Lea clues to a past that may well be closely connected with her own life.

Indian food

For a special treat over the holidays, my wife made us some Aloo Matar, a traditional Indian vegetarian dish made with curried potatoes and peas (and tomatoes, garlic, onions, cilantro, red peppers and other assorted spices). “Wow!” I kept saying, bite after wondrous bite. For dinner, we ate a divine dessert made with grated carrots, crushed almonds and cardamom. Unlike cakes or brownies, you only need a few bite-fulls before you’re full. That’s Indian food — good to eat and great for you too. Over the past few years, we’ve become huge fans of Indian food, going to Asheville’s Mela restaurant and stocking up on Indian sauces and foods every chance we get. Each new meal allows us to conjure up dreamy entrées like Palak Paneer and Delhi Korma, soothed by a mint chutney or cucumber yogurt, and sopped up with freshly baked Naan bread. Savor a dish of heaven. Try some Indian cuisine.

Learning a new language

The word for “thank you” in Portuguese is obrigado [OH brih-GAH-doh]. In Mandarin Chinese, it’s xie-xie [shey-shey]. In Arabic, it’s shukran [SHOOK-rahn]. The Turkish word for “Hello” is Merhaba [Meer-hah-bah].

I’ve been teaching myself random words from foreign languages thanks to some library books and CD’s. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to learn new words from other languages. There are so many beautiful words out there, and they don’t all have to be English. Try out the Arabic word for “island” — jaziira [zhah-ZEE-rhah]. See how it rolls off the tongue. As they say in Italian, buona fortuna! (Good luck!)

— By Michael Beadle

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