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Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain

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Overview

Magazine writer and editor Lori Tharps was born and raised in the comfortable but mostly White suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she was often the only person of color in her school and neighborhood. At an early age, Lori decided that her destiny would be discovered in Spain. She didn't know anyone from Spain, had never visited the country, and hardly spoke the language. Still, she never faltered in her plans to escape to the Iberian Peninsula.

Arriving in the country as an...

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Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain

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Overview

Magazine writer and editor Lori Tharps was born and raised in the comfortable but mostly White suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she was often the only person of color in her school and neighborhood. At an early age, Lori decided that her destiny would be discovered in Spain. She didn't know anyone from Spain, had never visited the country, and hardly spoke the language. Still, she never faltered in her plans to escape to the Iberian Peninsula.

Arriving in the country as an optimistic college student, however, Lori soon discovers Spain's particular attitude toward Blackness. She is chased down the street by the local schoolchildren and pointed at incessantly in public, and her innocent dreams of a place where race doesn't matter are shattered. The story would end there, except Lori meets and marries a Spaniard, and that's when her true Spanish adventure really begins.

Against the ancient backdrops of Cádiz and Andalucía, Lori starts the intricate yet amusing journey of rekindling her love affair with Spain and becoming a part of her new Spanish family. From a grandmother who spies on her to a grandfather who warmly welcomes her to town with a slew of racist jokes, the close-knit clan isn't exactly waiting with open arms. Kinky Gazpacho tells the story of the redeeming power of love and finding self in the most unexpected places.

At its heart, this is a love story. It is a memoir, a travel essay, and a glimpse into the past and present of Spain. As humorous and entertaining as such favorite travel stories as Under the Tuscan Sun, this book also unveils a unique and untold history of Spain's enduring connection to West Africa. Kinky Gazpacho celebrates the mysticism of travel and the joys of watching two distinct cultures connect and come together.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"With flawless agility, Tharps...juggles a coming-of-age story, a portrait of the writer as a young woman, a travel book and a detective story along with a memoir about learning to love oneself and one's world." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Joining the ranks of such fine books as Frances Mayes's Under the Tuscan Sun and Sarah Turnbull's Almost French, Lori Tharps takes us on an adventure of love, language, and travel. In her capable hands, it's not a small world after all — but rather a big one, with much to discover and a great deal of fun to be had." — Veronica Chambers, author of The Joy of Doing Things Badly and Kickboxing Geishas

"Kinky Gazpacho is not just a journey but a 'trip,' as they say. We encounter Frederick Douglass's hot descendant, Michael Jackson fans in Morocco, racist candies, and the love of a lifetime in a memoir that's sometimes heartbreaking, often hilarious, and always quirky." — Asali Solomon, author of Get Down

Andrew Ervin
Kinky Gazpacho is at heart a love story, though not the kind you might expect. Tharps's love for her family, for Spain and—most important—for herself make this an unforgettable and deeply affecting book.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

With flawless agility, Tharps (coauthor of Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America) juggles a coming-of-age story, a portrait of the writer as a young woman, a travel book and a detective story along with a memoir about learning to love oneself and one's world. A child of privilege, Tharps "experienced the world as a middle-class suburbanite." That she was black presented complications but not trauma. (The third grade International Day offered the happy prospect of "a smorgasbord of international flavors" and the awkward prospect of dressing like a slave. She enjoyed the former and passed on the latter.) In a narrative sense, little happens of a dramatic nature. She attends college, goes on an American Field Service stint to Morocco, studies abroad in Spain, falls in love, gets married, has children and becomes a freelance writer. What matters is that Tharps infuses this narrative with the pleasure of shared discovery, taking the reader along to the kids' party where they're playing "Nigger pile-on!" ("They're not talking about you. It's just a game") and into the chaste arms of the boys she has crushes on. Tharps has written a thought-provoking, answer-seeking consideration of race in the Western world that one can lie back and enjoy. The thoughts and answers will continue to haunt. (Mar.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743296489
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press
  • Publication date: 5/26/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 733,462
  • Product dimensions: 5.94 (w) x 8.28 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Lori L. Tharps is the author of Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain, named by Salon.com as one of their top ten books for 2008, and the co-author of Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America. She is an assistant professor of journalism at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, where she makes her home with her husband and family. She doesn’t have a nanny.

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Read an Excerpt

Kinky Gazpacho

Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 1980.

Third grade.

Right before dismissal.

We were sitting on the rug at the end of the day listening to Mrs. Fletcher explain about International Day. It was going to be something new and exciting and we were all going to participate. The gymnasium would be transformed into an international bazaar and there was going to be food and games and decorations from all over the world. I looked around at my classmates to see if anyone else thought this sounded exciting. Blank stares all around. Mrs. Fletcher continued, undeterred by our collective lack of enthusiasm. “So regular classes will be suspended for the entire day…,” she started, and then of course everyone perked up. “And we will spend the afternoon at the bazaar learning about different cultures. And the best part is you don’t have to wear your uniforms.” Some of the kids whooped and hollered at that. I didn’t really care. I actually liked my Black Watch plaid jumper with the gold buttons on the shoulders. It made me feel official. And my regular play clothes were not that cute anyway, thanks to having a mom who swore she could find the same designer clothing at the JCPenney warehouse that the other kids got from the Polo store and Laura Ashley.

Still, this bazaar thing had potential. I liked learning about different cultures and anything involving food and eating made me happy. My best friend was Japanese and I had already discovered a great love of tofu drenched in soy sauce. And thin, salty, crispy strips of seaweed made an excellent snack food. Thanks to Miko, I even knew how to say “grandma,” “grandpa,” and “soy sauce” in Japanese. And I could eat rice with chopsticks. Nobody else in my class could do that. I was about to raise my hand and offer up this bit of information to Mrs. Fletcher and the rest of my classmates when I remembered that Mrs. Fletcher had recently commented to my parents that I asked too many questions in class and needed to exercise some self-control. My mother, believing there was no such thing as too many questions, suggested I simply wait until the teacher was done talking before I shot my hand up in the air. “Just don’t interrupt her so much,” is what my mother told me, so I willed my hand still and waited for her to finish her instructions so I could share my wealth of information about Japanese culture.

“So,” Mrs. Fletcher was saying, “instead of your uniforms you are all supposed to come to school dressed in the clothing of your ancestors. So if your family is German you can wear lederhosen or one of those cute dresses with the white pinafore.” This being Milwaukee, the majority of my white classmates claimed German heritage and got it right away. Melissa Konig raised her hand, a look of concern wrinkling her lightly freckled face. “What if you’re German on one side and French on the other?” she asked. Mrs. Fletcher laughed. “You can pick whichever part of your heritage you want to display.” Another kid raised his hand. “What if we don’t know our heritage?” Again laughter from the teacher. “Your parents know exactly where they came from,” she assured us. “And that’s part of the reason for this day. We want you to investigate where you come from and share it with the school community. You can bring in decorations or foods or pictures or anything. The entire lower school will be involved.”

Suddenly Japanese culture wasn’t important anymore. I felt my cheeks burn. If they hadn’t been brown, everyone would have noticed that they were red. I tried not to make eye contact with anyone, in case they noticed my discomfort or figured out my shame. My ancestors were slaves! I was the descendant of a group of people kept as chattel, who lived in shacks, worked themselves to death, and, if luck was on their side, fled up north with Harriet Tubman and disappeared. What was I supposed to do? Come to school dressed in rags with a handkerchief tied around my head? And food? Slaves didn’t get to eat good food. Maybe my mom could bring in some table scraps for everyone to sample. I could feel my heart beating loudly in my chest and my skin went cold. How was I going to deal with this? And me being the only Black child in my class, my shame was my own.

“Are there any other questions?” Mrs. Fletcher asked, looking directly at me. I quickly averted my gaze and shook my head no. I didn’t want her to bring up my predicament in front of everyone. Maybe she’d tell me I didn’t have to come to school on Friday, seeing as I didn’t have a “real” heritage like everyone else. Luckily the boys in my class, unable to sit still any longer, freed me from my dilemma by jumping up and heading to the coatroom, effectively ending the discussion.

I dragged myself out the door and to the front circle to wait for the school bus. The ride to our house in Shorewood, a suburb of Milwaukee that felt like city living with more trees, lasted an hour. Usually Vivian Cole and I sat in the very back seats and sang classic rock songs at the top of our lungs to pass the time, but this day, I sat alone in an anonymous middle seat and tried not to cry. Life was so unfair. It had never really bothered me before that I was the only Black girl in my class and one of only a handful in my entire private school. In fact, I barely even noticed. And as far as I could tell, nobody else noticed, either. Nobody ever referred to me as “that Black girl” or called me names. I was just Lori. Now everyone was going to know I was different. They’d realize my history made me something less than they were. I went from sad to angry. By the time Vince the bus driver called me out of my funk to let me know I was home, I felt royally cheated that I wasn’t from a legitimate country like Germany or England. Or someplace exotic like Greece, which is where Kristopher Stavros was from. For every birthday since the first grade, Kristopher’s mother had brought in homemade sticky-sweet baklava, which, she was always careful to explain in her heavily accented English, took hours to make. But little Kristopher was worth it. Which I always questioned, since in class little Kristopher was a major pain in the butt, but that’s not really important.

“What’s the matter with you?” my mother asked when I came shuffling through the front door. She was always home to get me off the bus, having worked the early shift at the hospital. I told her about International Day and my embarrassing predicament.

“Oh, don’t be so dramatic,” she said, pooh-poohing my self-inflicted trauma. “You can wear whatever you want. In fact, you can wear my red beret, and I saw this perfect blue dress the other day that looks just like Madeline’s from the book. You can be French,” my mother said.

“But we’re not French,” I squeaked, wanting to believe my mother had the right idea, imagining myself in an adorable French outfit to rival Melissa Konig’s. And I did look good in a beret. I’d tried on my mother’s when she was taking a nap.

“We might be,” my mother said. “I’ve always felt very drawn to French culture,” she added.

But this wasn’t ethnic Halloween. I could just imagine showing up at school all Frenchied up and then having to explain to people how a Black person could possibly be French. We’d all seen the same history books, and not once did I ever recall a single Black person in France. People would just laugh at me—or worse, call me a liar.

“Forget it,” I said to my mother. “I just won’t wear anything. I’ll just say we couldn’t find anything.”

“Lori, you’re being silly,” my mother tried again. “You could wear something Dutch. I know for sure that on your father’s side someone was Dutch. We could find some wooden clogs and—”

“Mom, Dutch people have blond hair and blue eyes. Like that boy on the paint can,” I interrupted. “Who is going to believe me when I say I’m Dutch?”

“Well you are partially Dutch,” my mother sniffed. This conversation was making her uncomfortable, which was making me uncomfortable. I wanted a solution from her that not only made sense, but would also put me back on equal footing with my friends. I wanted to wear a costume like everyone else and be like everyone else, but in this instance I couldn’t. And I couldn’t bear the thought of wearing an outfit that belonged to the slave-owning part of my heritage and then having to explain how we were connected. I didn’t feel as if I had permission to claim the master’s culture. It wasn’t ours for the taking. And I certainly wasn’t going to explain all this to the kids at my school on International Day.

My mother gave it one last effort. “Would you prefer to go dressed as an Indian? I know for a fact that my grandmother on my mother’s side was half Cherokee Indian.”

I left the room without answering.

It was true that my mother’s people had some real Native American blood in them. But who didn’t? My mother was born in Egypt, Mississippi, one of ten girls and one boy. Her family moved to Milwaukee when she was four and she never left, except for the two years in Cincinnati while my father got his MBA at Xavier University. On my dad’s side of the family, everyone always talked about an Indian relative on my grandmother’s side that was responsible for their high yellow skin color and almost indigo eyes. Like my dad’s. But no one had ever been able to tell me much about this phantom relative whenever I pressed for details. In fact, they couldn’t even confirm whether he was an Indian from India or a Native American.

As I lay across my bed, racking my brain trying to come up with some exotic element in my family tree, I realized how very little I actually did know. My mother’s family seemed to start and stop with my aunties and cousins. They were my family, my history, and my ancestors. Each auntie had her own “thing” that made her special. Mary was the cook. Minerva was the beauty expert. Linda Sue, the baby of the girls still living in Milwaukee, was the one you went to for laughs. I thought I had parts of them all in my body. My dad’s family all lived in Baltimore and we only saw them on holidays and sometimes in the summer. I never even bothered to ask my grandmother anything about where she came from. I figured if we descended from something special, then I’d have heard about it by now. I fell asleep on my bed dreaming of slave shacks and Harriet Tubman.

• • •

On Friday morning I put my uniform on. I considered pretending to be sick, but my parents didn’t allow that. My father had actually divided our tuition by the hours we were in school to calculate how much each class was worth, so he could say things like “If you miss an entire day of school, that’s thirty dollars down the drain. One class, you’re talking five bucks.” Plus, as uncomfortable as I was, I was still really interested in tasting all that international food. Miko’s family had recently taken my sister and me to a real German restaurant in Chicago and made us try snails dripping with butter and garlic. I was hoping that with all the Germans in my school, there’d be some of those at International Day.

When I got to school, all the kids in my class were wearing the expected lederhosen and cutesy pinafore dresses, berets, and knickers, and one kid had on a pair of wooden shoes. The one Indian boy in my class, Vikas, wore something made of silk that looked like a dress and had a funny name. Mrs. Fletcher didn’t even ask me where my costume was. She probably assumed I wouldn’t want to come dressed like a slave. I was relieved she didn’t ask me to explain myself.

The activities started at lunchtime. Our usual family-style meal was a smorgasbord of international flavors. We had bratwurst and apple turnovers, Swedish meatballs and some sort of Chinese stir-fry with crunchy noodles. No snails, though. After lunch we headed to the gym and were met with a riot of color and noise and information. We went around as a class first, visiting the different booths. Each booth represented a different country and was manned by volunteer parents in costumes. And then we were free to roam around, playing games, sampling sweets, and reading about distant lands. As I meandered around the gym, I completely forgot about my lack of heritage and just enjoyed all the activities with my friends. And then it was time for the parade of costumes, and I moved to the edge of the floor. I wasn’t the only one without a costume, though. Other kids had forgotten or couldn’t find anything to wear. I tried to act like I belonged with them.

By the time International Day was over, I felt like I had been holding my breath and I could finally let it go. All day long I had been praying nobody would ask me where I came from and why I wasn’t wearing a costume. The fact that they didn’t ask made me realize that they all probably knew and didn’t want to make me feel bad. Everybody knew that Black people came from nothing.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Author's Note

1: International Day

2: Josephine Baker Was My Hero

3: Almost Africa

4: Quique

5: Black Like Me

6: Dreaming en Español

7: Sally

8: La Morena

9: If You Want My Body, and You Think I'm Sexy ...

10: Rupert

11: La Reconquista

12: Guess Who's Coming to la Cena?

13: Love. Life.

14: How Do You Say "Aunt Jemima" in Spanish?

15: Black to the Beginning

16: Kinky Gazpacho

Epilogue

Acknowledgments

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Reading Group Guide


This reading group guide for Kinky Gazpacho includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Lori Tharps. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Questions for Discussion

1. Why does Lori feel self-conscious about her hereditary connection to former slaves in America? To what extent does her race prevent her from feeling at ease with herself and her peers as a child in Wisconsin? How does her fascination with other cultures relate to her own frustration with the origins of her ethnicity?

2. "Maybe I wasn't a nigger like she was talking about. Maybe I was different? Special? Maybe she forgot I was Black since I was so good at fitting in with all the Whiteness around me" (page 19). How does Lori experience her racial difference as a child in Wisconsin? How do you interpret her friends' ability to ignore the fact of Lori's race when they make racist jokes or remarks? To what extent does Lori try to minimize the fact of her being Black as a child?

3. How do Lori's experiences at Shorewood's public school open her eyes to the racial expectations of her fellow classmates, both Black and White? Why does she describe her parents' decision to send her and her sister to public school as an "experiment"? How do her experiences in public school connect with her growing interest in Spain?

4. "Before I left home for college, I made a promise to myself. I absolutely, positively would not become friends with any Whitepeople" (page 49). How does befriending White people in college threaten Lori's self-identity? To what extent is her desire to separate herself from White classmates an index of her commitment to reclaiming her own sense of being Black? What does the outcome of Lori's promise to herself suggest about her own attitudes toward race?

5. How does Lori's relationship with Manuel differ from the other romances she relates in Kinky Gazpacho? What does their continuing their long-distance correspondence, despite an agreement to keep themselves open to falling in love with other people, suggest about their mutual commitment to the relationship? Why does Lori feel threatened when Manuel asks to visit her in Wisconsin?

6. "While I was in Spain, I'd been able to define Black any way I wanted to because there weren't enough people to contradict me. Although the term 'exotic' rankled me in Spain, at least I got to define Black for myself" (page 129). How does Lori's experience as a Black woman in Spain differ from her experience as a Black woman at Smith College? How does Lori define her race while she lives abroad as a student in Spain?

7. "I yearned to find something that linked my history, my spirit, and my culture to Spain so I could feel genuine joy and excitement when we planned our annual excursions. So that I didn't feel so foreign in a country where I now had family" (page 177). How much of Lori's sense of feeling "foreign" is connected to her being Black? How do her feelings of alienation relate to her being an American and not a native Spanish speaker? To what extent do you think she conflates these two different kinds of difference in her memoir?

8. What does the discovery of the little-known history of Black slaves in Spain represent to Lori? To what extent do Lori's efforts to piece together her understanding of Spain's history with respect to its Black residents help her come to terms with her own presence as a Black American in Spain?

9. How does a return to Spain after the birth of her son, Esai, affect Lori? What does the arrival of Esai represent to Manuel's immediate family? What does their reception by Manuel's grandmother reveal about the racial attitudes of some in Spanish society?

10. "Nothing had really changed in Spain. The people hadn't gone through collective racial awareness training, but I felt like I had" (page 204). How does Lori's quest to get to the bottom of the history of Blacks in Spain merge the professional and the personal obsessions of her life? How is her research into Spanish history so integral to her own changing feelings about her adopted country?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. In Kinky Gazpacho, Lori expresses an affinity with Spain before she ever lives there. Have you ever felt a special connection with another country? When your group meets to discuss Kinky Gazpacho, ask each person to write down (anonymously) the name of a foreign country where he or she would want to live, and then draw out the slips and try to guess as a group which country belongs to which person. (In order to make every person's choice a mystery, you may want to throw in two or three random countries.) How does the choice of countries reveal something about the individual who selected it?

2. Did you know that if Lori Tharps had a dog -- which she doesn't -- his name would be Otis? To learn more details about Lori's life and her work, to find out about her future readings and promotions for Kinky Gazpacho, and to find links to her other nonfiction writing, visit her Web site: www.loritharps.com/home/.

3. In Kinky Gazpacho, Lori prepares a meal for her future husband, Manuel, made entirely of vegetables: potato croquetas, lentil stew, rice, bread, and baked apples. When your book group gathers to discuss the memoir, you might consider preparing some of the traditional Spanish dishes that Lori wooed Manuel with, or plan a potluck with your favorite Spanish foods. For inspiration (and no fewer than six different styles of gazpacho!) visit www.spain-recipes.com/.

A Conversation with Lori L. Tharps

Why did you shift away from the field of education into a career in journalism?

I've always wanted to be a writer, but I never considered "writer" a legitimate profession. It seemed like a nice hobby but not something you could tell your parents you wanted to pursue. Once I made the decision to pursue my passion of writing, I elected to go into journalism because journalists have jobs and "writers" just write!

How did the experience of writing this memoir differ from your other nonfiction work as a journalist?

The hardest part about writing a memoir is that you are the main subject. I was used to dissecting other people's personalities and researching obscure facts, but for Kinky Gazpacho the spotlight was on me. There were times I didn't want to write about certain incidents because they were too embarrassing or painful, but the journalist in me knew they were essential parts of the story and had to be told.

You describe a sense of not being "the right kind of Black girl" from your time as an undergraduate at Smith College. To what extent do you think young Black American women in college today share this concern?

Sadly, I think the same thing still happens when college kids of any ethnic group come to college. Students are forced to immediately align themselves with a group or else risk social stigmatization. College campuses are still great breeding grounds for group-think mentalities.

Why did the discoveries you made in your research on the history of Black slaves in Spain affect you so profoundly?

I guess because it made me feel like I mattered in Spain. Discovering that my people had been there and left their mark on the culture meant that I really wasn't a foreigner in Spain. My roots were there, and not even that far under the surface. So in some ways, now when I go to Spain and people point or stare or challenge my right to be there, I kind of feel empowered because I know I have a history there. Even if the Spaniards don't know it, I do.

In terms of racial progress, what do you think will be the international impact of the election of Barack Obama as the first Black president of the United States?

I think Obama, as well as Michelle and his daughters, will make the American people reconsider what it means to be Black. There is such a limited view in this country of the Black experience, held by both Black and White people, that up until now hasn't been effectively challenged. The Cosby Show got the conversation started, but that could last only so long. (That's a joke!) But seriously, I think Obama's greatest impact will come from the fact that he is brilliant, not that he is Black.

Where do you feel most at home -- in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, or Salamanca, Spain -- and why?

This is a really good question. I actually feel most at home in Brooklyn, New York, where I lived for twelve years after college. Part of the reason I feel most at home there is because it was my home for so long. But the other part is because Brooklyn satisfies my mind, my spirit, and my desire for a multicultural, multilingual, creative, urban community. And it's really easy to get an international flight out of New York!

To your knowledge, in the years since your time abroad, how has the Spanish perception of people of color changed?

To my great dismay, I don't think it has changed much at all. In fact, with the current economic crisis and immigration woes, it might be getting worse. That being the case, I think it must get worse and then it will get better.

Why do you think many Spanish people continue to be ignorant of the contributions made by Blacks who lived among them centuries ago?

That is such a good question and one I continue to raise every time I go back to Spain. I do know that there is a community of scholars both in and outside of the country who are working hard to remedy this fact and bring to light Spain's impressive Black history.

Have you and your husband raised your children bilingually? What is the extent of their attachment to Spain?

Absolutely. My husband speaks to our children only in Spanish. My kids don't even know that their father speaks English! It's kind of funny, actually, considering that he and I speak English together all the time. But besides the fact that we want our children to have the advantage of speaking two languages, speaking Spanish is what connects them to Spain. It allows them to seamlessly slip into the family unit when we go to Spain, where they have lots of cousins, aunties, and uncles. And most of those aunties and uncles don't speak English at all.

If you could have known one thing about Spain before you decided to live there, what would it be?

It would have helped tremendously to know that being Black would bring a lot of unwanted attention. I might have been better prepared and lowered my expectations. But then again, at that point in my life, if someone had mentioned that Spaniards are kind of racially insensitive, I might not have gotten on that airplane. And then where would I be? As difficult as the experience was, it still comes out a net positive. I learned so much about myself in Spain. I met my husband, and it was in Spain that I gave myself permission to be a writer because I discovered the meaning of true passion while I was there. Also, I am still in love with so many different parts of the culture, like the food and the music and the emphasis on family. So, all told, I'm glad I didn't have anything but my fantasies to carry with me or else my life would look very different today. And I really, really like my life now.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2014

    I truly loved this book

    What a fantastic read. I'm living in Salamanca now, which made the book that much more endearing. I've also felt self conscious about my dark skin but Lori's paranoias often seemed to keep her from enjoyment. It prevented her from loving and appreciating people that genuinely loved her inside. She was far more consumed by her skin than I am of my own. In a sense, it was comforting to learn through her, to just let it go. If they like you, they like you. If they don't,the feelings mutual. The story was well written and fun to read.

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  • Posted September 28, 2011

    Fun Story!

    Different and zesty! A wonderful modern day realistic fairy tale! Loved it! Made me smile!

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  • Posted August 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Kinky Gazpacho is part coming of age, part memoir and fully satisfying!

    Synopsis:

    In Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain Lori Tharps takes us on an unusual and enjoyable journey. The book is part coming of age story, part narrative of a young woman finding herself, and part love story.

    Lori Tharps was born and raised in middle class comfort in the suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she was often the only person of color in her school and neighborhood. Feeling dislocated in her home city and fascinated by other cultures and countries from a young age, Lori took all the available opportunities to travel from school sponsored exchange in Morocco in high school to spending her junior year of college in Salamanca, Spain. Lori went to Spain hoping that she would find a place where race doesn't matter. Although Lori didn't come across this idealized place, Spain was a did bring her self discovery and love and marriage with a young Spaniard.

    Review:

    I found Kinky Gazpacho a sensitive and fascinating read. The anecdotes of her childhood reveal the playground slights and ways that she was treated differently from her peers without bitterness or anger. I found Lori sympathetic, plucky and interesting - the sort of friend that I would loved to have at that age. I enjoyed reading about the different stages of her life and the ways that she and Manuel made a life for themselves and their family.

    Kinky Gazpacho is a wonderful read and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a memoir, coming of age story, or an unusual and satisfying read.

    Publisher: Washington Square Press (May 26, 2009), 240 pages.
    Book was courtesy of Color Online's Summer Madness Contest.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2008

    A reviewer

    I've just finished reading this book and I absolutely love it. The tone was very personable. It felt like a conversation between friends rather than simply reading about her experiences. Her past and present views of Spain in reference to race were intriguing. I feel the book teaches you the importance of having a knowledge of your past and a love for yourself, regardless of how others perceive you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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