When You’re Hungry For More Than Just Words

June 19, 2009 // Filed under Uncategorized

M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, and Ruth Reichl are some of the people who come to mind when I think about those who have described their love of food and cooking in noteworthy books.

M.F.K. Fisher is still considered one of the 20th century’s standard bearers of elegant prose about food, travel and life. Readers have long savored the detail and precision of her observations in such books as Consider the Oyster and The Art of Eating.
As for The French Chef, Julia Child’s posthumous 2006 biography My Life in France, co-authored by Alex Prud’homme, recounts her culinary education in Paris with lively detail. It also seamlessly blends in loving memories of her husband and their time in France.
And Ruth Reichl’s Tender at the Bone is a wonderful recollection of how she came to be an ardent epicure despite having a diffident mother who couldn’t cook.
Today’s rash of cooking memoirs may not demonstrate the same depth of experience and writing wizardry as those of Fisher, Reichl or Child, but they are nonetheless enjoyable to read. Among the newest food memoirs are two books written with wit and loaded with recipes. In both cases, these recipes accompany chapters of the books and tend to signify “chapters” in the authors’ lives.
A Homemade Life, by food blogger Molly Wizenberg, mingles family stories and vignettes with a good assortment of recipes. She writes in an engaging manner about life, its little victories, big sorrows, and how her love of food and cooking drew her future husband to her like a moth to the flame. Actually, it was her blog, Orangette, that lured her husband to her, which goes to show the power of blogging. Unfortunately, Orangette is at present in suspension because Wizenberg apparently has too many irons in the fire or too many pots on the stove. In any case, there are plenty of nice recipes included in this book.

Giulia Melucci, author of I loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti, certainly believes that the fastest way to the altar is through a man’s stomach. This Brooklyn author has been repeatedly disappointed in affairs of the heart and bed. Yet she finds that cooking and laughter have healed her broken heart, enabling her to try all over again! Her book is full of recipes reflecting her Italian-American heritage, and she shares how these recipes may have attracted a suitor or made up for a failed love affair afterwards. ~ Evelyn Fischel

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