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Consuming Passions: A Food-Obsessed Lifeby Michael Lee West
Synopses & Reviews
"I grew up in the fifties, an era when cellulite existed but had no name. In our household, tucked away in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, the sixties were noted for its grapefruit diets and ice cold cans of Metracal. My people loved food, and every meal was a celebration." So begins Michael Lee West in Consuming Passions, her deliciously funny look at family, food, and Southern life. Brimming with lively anecdotes about aunts, uncles, cousins, and all manner of eccentric locals, it is also filled with a classic selection of recipes for the gumbos, barbecue, cakes, and pies that reflect this region's, and the author's, devotion to real "down-home" food.
The reader is transported from West's first attempt at "No-Fail Rice and Pork Casserole" to her "internship" in Miss Johnnie's kitchen, as she launches on her own food explorations, making croutons, bravely frying, ordering exotic spices and taking cookbooks to bed to "read, study, and dissect. I knew my kitchen, perhaps my life, would never be the same. I had a destiny, a food obsessed life."
Topics for Discussion
Consuming Passions is Michael Lee West's delightfully quirky memoir of an adventurous life centered around food and family—the story of how she went from non-cook to gourmet of words and victuals by watching a multitude of relatives squabble, prepare sumptuous repasts, and carry on honored traditions. Laced with delicious secret recipes passed from generation to generation, West's irresistible chronicle recalls good times and wild times—mothers swinging from chandeliers, elderly aunts brewing up love potions, a South American nymphomaniac stirring up trouble at a Louisiana barbeque joint, and the spooky hauntings of a cabbage-eating ghost—all in the pursuit of good dining. Thoroughly entertaining, alive with West's distinctive humor and sharp, irrepressible insight, here are incomparable American kitchen tales as warm and tasty as freshly baked bread.
Laced with delicious secret recipes passed from generation to generation, Consuming Passionsis Michael Lee West's delightfully quirky memoir of an adventurous food-obsessed life. By watching a multitude of relatives cook, squabble, and carry on tradition, West went from a noncooking sytudent to a full-on gourmet of food and words. Throughout, she lends her distinctive humor and often hilarious insights to stories about her trials and tribulations as a Southern woman who became an "accidental gourmet."
In this irresistible memoir, mothers swing from chandeliers, elderly aunts brew love potions, a South American nymphomaniac stirs up trouble at a Louisiana barbecue joint, and a cabbage-eating ghost haunts relatives--all in pursuit of good food. Using her own experience and the witticisms of relatives, West fills these pages with insights such as "Never share men or recipes. Something's bound to get stolen" and "Live and learn. Die and get food. That's the Southern way." Wonderfully presented and thouroughly entertaining, this warm and witty work unites West's evocative voice and humor with the uniquely American form of kitchen tales.
About the Author
Michael Lee West is the author of Mad Girls in Love, Crazy Ladies, American Pie, She Flew the Coop, and Consuming Passions. She lives with her husband on a rural farm in Tennessee with three bratty Yorkshire terriers, a Chinese Crested, assorted donkeys, chickens, sheep, and African Pygmy goats. Her faithful dog Zap (above) was the inspiration for a character in the novel.
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