In the raw — Whole Foods Market in West Bloomfield (7350 Orchard Lake Rd.; 248-538-4600) is offering a schedule of food classes. And they're not simply "cooking" classes: Many of them focus on eating for health. In fact, this week's class is about not-cooking, titled "Oxygenate Your Body with Raw Foods" (7 p.m. Jan. 16). Those interested in lowering their cholesterol and blood pressure or maintaining normal blood sugar levels can learn how eating "raw food" can help oxygenate your body and help it heal. Expect samples of raw food and instruction on how to prepare tasty food without cooking. Call 734-812-9137 for reservations.
Slow readers — Slow Food Detroit's Book Club will meet at Royal Oak's Vinotecca Wine Bar (417 S. Main St.; vinotecca.com) on Jan. 17. This month, the group will discuss Thomas McNamee's Alice Waters and Chez Panisse: The Romantic, Impractical, Often Eccentric, Ultimately Brilliant Making of a Food Revolution. Don't have the book? It's on sale across the street at Royal Oak's Barnes & Noble store. Book club participants can mention the club at the counter for a 20 percent discount on the title. The event begins at 7 p.m. For more information on Slow Food Detroit, see slowfooddetroit.org.
Dem bones — They may be called Lazybones Smokehouse, but they've certainly been busy. They were closed for two weeks, busy remodeling while their head chef went to Memphis on a barbecue research trip. They've promised that surprises await those who visit after their reopening on Jan. 14. Curious? Stop in for a rack at 27475 Groesbeck Hwy., Roseville; 1-866-671-0221; open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, closed Sundays.
EAT THE PAGE
If the four basic tastes that stimulate our palates are sweet, sour, salty and bitter, where does Parmesan cheese fit in? What about beef or mushrooms? About 100 years ago, the Japanese claimed to have discovered a fifth taste: umami. David and Anna Kasabian explore this phenomenon in The Fifth Taste: Cooking with Umami (Universe, $27.50) Best described as a savory flavor, a detailed explanation of umami is followed by savory recipes from several acclaimed chefs.
A TASTY BEVERAGE
When a young Ernest Hemingway wrote the short story "Big Two-Hearted River," he couldn't have imagined that folks would one day toast his literary achievements with beer. Described as an "well suited for Hemingway-esque trips to the Upper Peninsula," Bell's Two Hearted Ale pours orange beneath a frothy white head, bringing the scents of hard lemon candy and catnip, then slightly sweet wholesome malts balanced with a heap of pithy hops. So who cares that it was actually the nearby Fox River that helped inspire the writing? Hopheads rejoice.
We've found many specialty gadgets that simplify tasks that we can otherwise perform with a decent chef's knife. The list continues. If this pineapple slicer works as promised, it's worth the 10 bucks you'll drop on it at Crate and Barrel. It claims to simultaneously peel and core, delivering perfect slices while leaving the shell whole for serving fruit salad or piña coladas 2 parts pineapple juice, 2 or 3 parts light or dark rum and two parts coconut cream. Blend with crushed ice for a taste of the islands. Garnish with one of those perfect slices.