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Oddly enough, there's a Vermont connection to a new memoir titled Bento Box in the Heartland: My Japanese Girlhood in Whitebread America. Author Linda Furiya lives in Shelburne and teaches cooking lessons locally. The book tells about Furiya's childhood in small-town Indiana, and the prejudice she faced as the only Asian in school. At the time, eating Japanese food was both a source of pleasure and a marker of cultural difference. For instance, Furiya writes about how she snuck into the girls' room at lunchtime to scarf down onigiri - stuffed rice balls - so the other students wouldn't see. Each chapter centers around the importance of food in Furiya's life, and ends with a recipe for one of the dishes mentioned in the chapter. Visit www.lindafuriya.com for more information.

Cheese is good for you - and others, as it turns out. This month, the Grafton Village Cheese Company - part of the Windham Foundation - has teamed up with the American Institute of Wine and Food to help fund the Julia Child Scholarship.

The $2500 scholarship, which is administered by the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, is awarded each year to a Vermont student who wishes to pursue a culinary education. Starting this month, sales from special wheels and blocks of Grafton Classic Reserve black-waxed cheddar will help fund the scholarship.

Theresa Frank, who works in the accounts receivable department at Grafton, says the two-year aged scholarship cheese has its own special label and is "very handsome." It comes in three sizes: a four-pack of 8 oz. "mini-wheels," 2-pound blocks and 10-pound blocks. The latter are geared towards chefs, but plain-old cheese fanatics can buy them, too. To purchase the cheese or for more information, visit www.graftonvillagecheese.com.

An MSNBC website touting Burlington as "a hipster's paradise" appears to have had a little difficulty with its fact checking. The B-town write-up, which was last updated on December 26, 2006, is full of suggestions for what to do during a 24-hour layover in the Queen City.

Pauline Frommer - of Frommer's guidebook fame - is spot-on when she tells visitors to breakfast at Penny Cluse and dine at A Single Pebble. However, she misses the mark with her lunch recommendation. "Right in the heart of Burlington," she writes, "is the bustling restaurant, the NECI Commons." Um . . . not for more than a year, Ms. Frommer. Maybe the folks over at MSNBC should check our Seven Nights dining guide more often.

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