Andrew S · Food! · Memoir · Non-Fiction

Kitchen Confidential | by Anthony Bourdain

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
by Anthony Bourdain
(Harper Perennial, 2001, 302 pages)

Junkie chef telling great stories.

4/5 stars

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Celebrities · Food! · Julia P · Memoir · Non-Fiction

Love, Loss, and What We Ate | by Padma Lakshmi

Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir

Love, Loss, and What We Ate by Padma Lakshmi
(Ecco, 2016, 324 pages)

As a devoted Top Chef fan there was no question that I’d be finding the time to read Padma’s memoir. It wasn’t quite as food-focused as you might think, though it’s clear that food has always played a pretty central role in her life. In this memoir Padma opens up about her family, her love life, and the joyful surprise she received when becoming pregnant with her daughter, Krishna.

The whole time I was reading this book I heard Padma’s voice in my head – I think that if I had listened to the audiobook I would have enjoyed the book as much if not more. She has a very specific cadence and tone so maybe I’m just partial to it after hearing it for so long… Regardless, I appreciated that she actually wrote this book. I hadn’t realized she had written articles for magazines prior to this publication. I knew she’d authored a few cookbooks, but that’s a very different writing experience.

I think I was most eager to learn about her love life since she had been married to Salman Rushdie. It was somewhat surprising to learn that she has (and makes a point of acknowledging it in the book) something of a father complex when it comes to the men she’s drawn to. The two main loves of her life both happened to be significantly older than her. Combine that with the surprise pregnancy and not initially knowing who the father was… I came away from this book knowing a lot more than I’d bargained for. That being said, I found her writing style to be relatable and I finished the book feeling like I knew and liked her a lot more than I thought I would.

I definitely recommend this book, but I think you’ll appreciate it a lot more if you’re already a Padma/Top Chef fan. And I realize I left out a substantial part of the book which was Padma addressing her battle with endometriosis. That’s a central aspect of the book and her life and she’s made a concerted effort to raise awareness about it.

Fiction · Food! · In the Library · Jean R · Mystery · Series

Wedding Cake Murder | by Joanne Fluke

Wedding Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke
(Kensington Books, 2016, 370 pages)

Wedding Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke is another novel in the Hannah Swensen Mystery series. In this novel, Hannah and her sister are making a trip to New York to participate in the Food Channel’s dessert chef contest. When Hannah wins the first round, the dessert chef contest with its contestants and four judges is moved to Hannah’s hometown of Lake Eden, Minnesota. Unfortunately for Hannah, one of the four judges is murdered in Lake Eden. As usual, Hannah is determined to help find the murderer.

One of the ongoing storylines in the Hannah Swensen Mystery series is if/who Hannah will marry. For the majority of the series, there have been two suitors. In the previous novel, Double Fudge Brownie Murder, a third suitor was added. In Wedding Cake Murder, Hannah finally marries.

Even though the Hannah Swensen Mystery series always contains a murder mystery, I keep reading the series to find out what happens to Hannah and her family. Now that the suitor question has been resolved, I wonder what the next book in the series will reveal. Will there be more “mystery” in the murders or will a new plot line be developed? Will there be even more recipes? I guess I need to read the next book in the series to find out.

Fiction · Food! · Julia P

Sweetbitter | by Stephanie Danler

Sweetbitter

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
(Knopf, 2016, 368 pages)

 

I was lucky enough to receive an advanced reader’s copy of Sweetbitter. There has been a lot of buzz about this title, and it was certainly well-written. Set in New York we come to the city along with our protagonist, Tess. A young woman from the Midwest, Tess feels like she can finally embrace the future she’s envisioned for herself. She is pleasantly surprised when she’s offered a job at one of the top restaurants in New York. She starts low on the ladder but she is quickly taken under the wing of Simone (a server who has been at the restaurant for decades) and just as quickly Tess finds herself falling for the distant but appealing bartender named Jake.

Jake and Simone have a unique relationship and as Tess tries to find her place with the two of them, the reader learns the ins and outs of the restaurant business along with her. I think Danler does a great job catching the inner workings of the restaurant scene. It wasn’t as food-focused as I’d thought it would be, but Danler did an amazing job depicting the excitement of the world of wine.

Look for more buzz this month – the book has a pub date of May 24th.

Cookbook · Food! · Julia P · Non-Fiction · Quick Read!

Dinner: The Playbook | by Jenny Rosenstrach

Dinner: The Playbook: A 30-Day Plan for Mastering the Art of the Family Meal

Dinner: The Playbook: A 30-Day Plan for Mastering the Art of the Family Meal by Jenny Rosenstrach
(Ballantine Books, 2014, 240 pages)

My last cookbook-focused review was earlier in April and I talked about how much I enjoyed Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners. Well, this book shows how serious I am about wanting to get back in the kitchen. Rosenstrach got into the food world thanks to her popular blog, Dinner: A Love Story. This little cookbook is meant to be a motivator for parents who value the idea of family dinner but feel overwhelmed at the idea of trying to pull one together every night. I’m lucky enough to have a husband that enjoys cooking, but I miss my time in the kitchen. As it stands, when I want to make dinner I often feel like there’s not enough time to do it and that I don’t have anything in the kitchen anyway. This book helped change my kitchen outlook.

Rosenstrach presents a “challenge” wherein you have family dinners for 30 days. She outlines how to approach everything from shopping and food prep to convincing picky eaters to eat what you serve. A lot of the recipes seem so simple, and that’s kind of the key. Sometimes you just need someone to lay everything out for you. I pulled a number of recipes from this book that I can easily implement for my family. Plus I’m using the tips she offered on how to effectively stock my pantry/fridge/freezer and making the most use of my time by getting some food prep tasks out of the way on the weekends or in the morning.

I definitely plan on picking up her memoir in the near future because I really appreciated her approach to cooking and family. If you’re in something of a cooking rut and want to reinvigorate your family meals, this is a great book to pick up.

Cookbook · Food! · Julia P · Non-Fiction

Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners | by Sara Moulton

Sara Moulton's Everyday Family Dinners

Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners by Sara Moulton
(Simon & Schuster, 2010, 400 pages)

Oh, how I’ve missed reading about food! I discovered Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners when I realized I was in something of a food rut at home and wanted to find a cookbook that could help guide me out of it. I just don’t have the time to play around in the kitchen like I used to now that I’m constantly keeping an eye on a toddler who has to explore everything.

This cookbook is one I definitely plan on buying and adding to my collection. I really liked Moulton’s writing style. Each recipe had a short introduction and then the recipes themselves were clearly written and easy to follow. There are also tips and tricks interspersed throughout. The nature of the cookbook is to make it easy to put together a good, quality family meal on a weeknight when time is always at a premium. There were a lot of recipes I wanted to try, some with ingredients I might not otherwise gravitate towards.

Lest you doubt, I did read this whole cookbook 🙂 If you’re looking for ways to change up your family’s food repertoire this would be a good place to start – even if you’re something of a cooking novice.