Food Memoirs have been the craze for a while now. But surely you knew that, unless you have been living under a rock – such as myself. Run a search for food memoirs on Amazon, and you will find more results than you cared to know about. Who knew, apparently write about food, and you can’t go wrong.
So I picked up ‘A Homemade life – Stories and recipes from my kitchen table’ by Molly Wizenberg. The cover is totally gorgeous and does precisely what the publisher intended it to do – makes you take a second look. Then I found out that she got her book deal after her food blog Orangette proved to be a world wide sensation. Food blogs are not my thing, however, I love stories of wonderful things happening to ordinary people. I was sold.
The blurbs on the dust jacket alone want you to purchase the book straightway. The praise makes it sound so irresistible, yes the whole package is a publisher’s dream. This precisely why I was a bit hesistant picking it up, although it had been sitting on my bedside table for sometime. I always find it hard to start reading a book that looks so beautiful on the outside. The inside almost always never holds up. This particular one, sadly, was not an exception either.
Everything about the book is cute. The blog is cute, the book is cute, the writer is so damn cute. Except nothing really happens in the book. The book is filled with short essay type, lackluster stories. I would be more interested to read these stories in magazines rather than have them take the form of a book. There is no coherence. The writing is good, the stories are not. The book is too long.
A young girl grows up loving cooking because everybody cooks in her family. She leaves her academic pursuits for cooking and writing. Her elderly father passes away and she goes to Paris. There she starts a blog and meets her husband. That’s all that happens in the book. Seriously.
The book does pick up a bit half way through with her love angle taking shape, however the stories still remain mildly amusing. I skipped all the recipes as well. At times, I found her food writing to be quite annoying – I know she is a ‘foodie’ but does she have to talk like a food critic on Iron Chef? Over the top and unnecessary.
In stark contrast is the classic ‘Home Cooking – A Writer in the kitchen’ by Laurie Colwin. Her book is concise, and a perfect treat, waiting to be devoured. She makes you fall in love with her life, her writing, and her cooking – even if you are not into cooking. She surprises you with the simplest, most unpretentious prose and gentle humour, often catching you by surprise. I could relate to almost everything in the book and could not get enough of it. I read every single thing she had to say. At the end, I sighed with total satisfaction, albeit little sadly, to finish the book. Just like you do after finishing an awesome meal. You wish for more, but not really. You know it was perfect.
Read Laurie (right) if you are after a fantastic read that just happens to be about food. Read Molly (above) if your primary love is food/cooking. Very much a matter of individual preference and yet makes a world of a difference as to what you are getting. As for me, I am quite fussy about what’s on my plate.