TransAtlantic & Hasselback Potatoes
In the followup to the beautiful National Book Award-winning Let The Great World Spin, Colum McCann offers a winding, at times tragic, account of lives that intersect and reconnect across three countries and three centuries. Out tomorrow, TransAtlantic will thrill fans of his previous work, again offering chapters that are more like distinct short stories that shift time, place and mood.
As the book opens, the reader stamps and soars with John Alcock and Arthur Brown, the first men to make a nonstop flight across the ocean separating America from Europe in 1919. From there, we jump to peeking inside Frederick Douglass' visit to Ireland in 1845, where he witnessed not only the beginnings of the Irish Potato Famine but also secured his legal freedom before returning to America two years later. Wrapping up the first half is an imaginary ridealong with former United States Senator George Mitchell—who is still alive, by the way—as he worked to broker the Good Friday agreement to move toward peace in Northern Ireland in 1998.
These stories of men are interjected by women who are revealed, in turn, in the chapters of the second half. One of them meets Alcock and Brown as a young photojournalist, another serves Douglass as a maid, yet another cheekily instructs Mitchell on ways to improve his backhand from the comfort of her wheelchair. Slowly, the names return and connections become clearer. These women are all connected, but in what order, and to what end?
This is a powerful collection of narratives that is alluring and complex, a ribbon tied delicately and purposefully, waiting to be unraveled. The mystery layered within is enticing, beckoning you to interpret actions and intentions alongside settings and relationships, dragging you back and forth across the Atlantic until you, too, feel the rush of discovery.
With prose that borders on poetry, McCann envelops you in the moods, pain and triumph of his characters and settings. TransAtlantic is a book that will leave you spent, and you'll be all the better for it.
Like the stories in TransAtlantic, the slices in this Hasselback potato are tender and crisp around the edges. They are also distinct from each other while remaining connected. And, above all, they are comforting.
- 2 large potatoes
- 4 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter (sliced into pats)
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Place potatoes, flat side down, on a cutting board. Starting at one end, slice at 3-4mm intervals to create an accordion. Be sure not to slice all the way through the potato.
Add garlic slices between each potato slice and place in baking pan. Add pats of butter on top of potatoes, then drizzle with olive oil. Finally, sprinkle salt and pepper on top.
Bake for 50 minutes or until edges begin to crisp and insides are tender.
This is a base recipe for Hasselback potatoes, which is too bland without additional toppings, in my opinion. I added herbed cheese, but you could use any of your favorite baked potato toppings as well.
Source: I received this book as a free ARC from @NetGalley.