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Review: In The Kitchen: Writing on Home Cooking and More

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My Interest

I loved the cover was the first reason I chose this one. I also have been having good luck with essays and similar lately so decided to try to read more of them this year. Bonus: After reading this I decided I must make and try Pelau! (The recipe linked is from the essay’s author.)

The Essays

The collection is divided into the following categories:

  • Coming to the Kitchen
  • Reading and Writing the Kitchen
  • Beyond the Kitchen

Within those categories, the essays were sometimes idiotic (an annotated list of all the stoves in the author’s various homes over the course of her adult life) frequently mediocre to “fine” (as in “just fine”), and occasionally very good. I’m reviewing the best ones, but not in any ranked order:

Brain Work by Laura Freeman

I knew I’d love this essay when she started it off quoting from Muriel Spark’s Girls of Slender Means. Freeman tells us about her reading author’s diaries, something I love to do. Specifically, she looks at what writer’s have for lunch. I love little details like that in diaries. This was a fun “literary” look at food.

Food is a Bridge to Community by Julia Turshen

While this was occasionally a little eye-rolling for me as a Midwesterner almost 30 years older than the author, I admired her by the end. We might use different terms, but we share the same sort of ideals. Who doesn’t love someone passionate enough about a person, place, idea, or cause that they get up do something about it? In this case, the author coordinated the creation of a cookbook that she then sold to raise $20,000 for an organization close to her heart. She also gives generously of her time to a local food charity and created a database of food professionals of all sorts “featuring only women and gender non-conforming individuals” (p. 100). I like her mantra: “You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to have an impact.”

The New Thing by Juliet Annan

Annan’s essay references writer Laurie Colwin’s book Home Cooking, which a friend has pushed me to read for years (I have read another of her books), so two pushes by other author’s toward this book in less than two months means I will be finding a copy and reading it soon. Nora Ephron and a host of folks like Nigella and Jamie show up, too. In addition, she talks about the first “sensation” cookbook of my adult life–The Silver Palate Cookbook, out of which I managed to cook NOTHING. That was in the days when half the ingredients required a trip to Atlas Supermarket in Broad Ripple (think Doll’s Market in St. Matthews), a place that intimidated me on my best days. I think I donated my copy a few years ago to the library book sale.

In The Kitchen: Writing on Home Cooking and More

Do you enjoy food writing? Do you ever read cookbook? Have a favorite food writer? Leave me a comment or post.

Other Foodie Posts:

Books for a Foodie Lit Class

Food For a Younger Land by Mark Kurlansky

Save Me The Plums by Ruth Reichel

Hippie Food by Jonathon Kauffman

10 Yummy Foods Mentioned in Books

A Boat. A Whale & A Walrus by Renee Erickson [scroll down in the post]

10 thoughts on “Review: In The Kitchen: Writing on Home Cooking and More

  1. I love the cover too! I can’t say that food writing appeals to me that much (since I cook more as a necessity than a hobby), and I can’t imagine ever wanting to read a cookbook. I like the idea of a book of essays on a theme though, and it’s nice to know that if one doesn’t appeal — there’s always the next one 🙂

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    1. I love cookbooks! I don’t “read” them as in cover-to-cover, but I often pick them up between books or just at an odd moment while actually cooking. The prose and photos in cookbooks today is really amazing. I’ll try to remember to review one sometime so you can read a sample of a good one. Hope you aren’t too lonely this week with Caroline and Sophie both gone!

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  2. I read a lot of books that have food, cooking and baking as part of the story (especially many cozy mysteries) but I have not read a book devoted to cooking. I think I have one on my kindle about pies, I will have to check it out.

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