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Apron Anxiety: My Messy Affairs in and Out of the Kitchenby Alyssa Shelasky
Reading Group Guide
1. Apron Anxiety opens with the following from celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain: “I would be displeased and scared shitless if my little girl started talking about wanting to be a chef. I guess it could be worse. She could talk about wanting to go OUT with a chef.” When you first read this quote, what did you think Apron Anxiety was going to be like? Having read it, what do you think of Bourdain’s thoughts?
2. In Chapter One, Alyssa recounts her family’s eating habits and how these early years shaped her adult tastes. What are your first memories of food? How did your own attitude toward food develop?
3. Talk about the prevalence of food culture these days. What does the word “foodie” mean to you? Does Alyssa consider herself a foodie?
4. Do you know anyone who’s worked in the restaurant business? What are your impressions of it, having read Apron Anxiety? If you were able to date a chef, would you? Conversely, if you were a chef would you date a “civilian?”
5. When Alyssa first begins cook on her own, she’s surprised at how much delight Chef takes in her attempts to share what she thought was his passion alone. Do you think that relationships work best when they are centered on a mutual interest, or when each partner has his/her own “thing?”
6. In Apron Anxiety, cooking for Alyssa is often therapeutic. Think of your own relationship with food and cooking. Are there particular meals that bring up memories or elicit strong emotions?
7. Alyssa describes the singular experiences that changed the way she thought about food: “the Pasta” of her teenage years, her first tastes of Indian cuisine, exploring the Greek cooking of her boyfriend’s heritage, the many special dishes Chef made for her. What is your most memorable food experience? What made it special?
8. “Every morning of my life, my mother has eaten a packaged Devil Dog for breakfast.” Talk about how eating and food play an important part of a person’s routine. Do you have a daily food ritual?
9. At the book’s end, Alyssa writes that, contrary to what one may tell his- or herself, “Happiness is yours to find.” Do you agree with this sentiment? Why did it take Alyssa so long to realize this about herself?
10. Think about what it might be like to write your own memoir. Could you be as candid as Alyssa is in Apron Anxiety? Would you be concerned about the reactions of your family and friends once they read your book?
11. “Just because you’re an extraordinary person who deserves extraordinary love, it can’t come at the expense of everything else that makes you whole.” Consider this quote of Alyssa’s as you think about how she’s detailed her romantic life in Apron Anxiety. In her relationship with Chef, what was Alyssa missing in her own life?
12. How do you think Alyssa would arrange the following words, in order of importance: friends, family, work, food, love? How would you order them?
13. Famed restaurant and food critic Gael Greene says of Apron Anxiety: “There’s a racy plot and a surprising moral in this intimate and delicious book.” Do you agree? If you could offer a blurb about this book, what would it say?
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