I loved, loved, loved this book so much. I thought I had grown tired of the whole food-memoir-with-recipes-at-the-end-of-each-chapter sub-genre, but A Homemade Life is a wonderful exception.
Molly Wizenberg is a generous writer, full of self-depreciating humor and gentle wit. Her descriptions of her childhood, and especially of her relationship with her parents, are moving and sweet. I will admit, when I was reading this on the bus, I got a bit teary at one point.
Then there are the recipes. I have lost count of how many times I've made the French Grandmother's Lemon Yogurt Cake — it's so good — and I could write a sonnet about the pickled carrots.
If you are a fan of food writing and you haven't read this yet, I promise that you will love it. Recommended By Sandy M., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
When Molly Wizenberg's father died of cancer, everyone told her to go easy on herself, to hold off on making any major decisions for a while. But when she tried going back to her apartment in Seattle and returning to graduate school, she knew it wasn't possible to resume life as though nothing had happened. So she went to Paris, a city that held vivid memories of a childhood trip with her father, of early morning walks on the cobbled streets of the Latin Quarter and the taste of her first pain au chocolat
. She was supposed to be doing research for her dissertation, but more often, she found herself peering through the windows of chocolate shops, trekking across town to try a new patisserie, or tasting cheeses at outdoor markets, until one evening when she sat in the Luxembourg Gardens reading cookbooks until it was too dark to see, she realized that her heart was not in her studies but in the kitchen.
At first, it wasn't clear where this epiphany might lead. Like her long letters home describing the details of every meal and market, Molly's blog Orangette started out merely as a pleasant pastime. But it wasn't long before her writing and recipes developed an international following. Every week, devoted readers logged on to find out what Molly was cooking, eating, reading, and thinking, and it seemed she had finally found her passion. But the story wasn't over: one reader in particular, a curly-haired, food-loving composer from New York, found himself enchanted by the redhead in Seattle, and their email correspondence blossomed into a long-distance romance.
In A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, Molly Wizenberg recounts a life with the kitchen at its center. From her mother's pound cake, a staple of summer picnics during her childhood in Oklahoma, to the eggs she cooked for her father during the weeks before his death, food and memories are intimately entwined. You won't be able to decide whether to curl up and sink into the story or to head straight to the market to fill your basket with ingredients for Cider-Glazed Salmon and Pistachio Cake with Honeyed Apricots.
"Wizenberg's debut shares the same basic format as her Orangette blog favorite recipes interspersed with personal reflection but constructed around a much tighter family narrative. Memories of her father, for example, begin with his cherished formula for potato salad and an attempt to recreate his French toast, but also include a variation on scrambled eggs that spurred a comforting moment as he was dying of cancer. The second half of the memoir focuses on her blossoming relationship with Brandon, who started out as a fan of the blog, became a long-distance boyfriend and eventually moved to Seattle and married her of course, she shares the recipes for the pickled carrots they served at the wedding as well as the chocolate cake she baked for dessert. Though there is an emphasis on desserts, the recipes cover a variety of meals, none beyond the range of an ordinary cook, and Wizenberg's directions are laced with a charming voice that strikes a neat balance with the reflective passages. Her strong personality stands out among her generation's culinary voices." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"These recipes run the gamut from a favorite childhood dessert called Hoosier Pie through soups and meatballs to some unique tiny pastries based on canned tuna. Fans of the authors popular blog will be particularly attracted to this autobiography." Booklist
About the Author
Molly Wizenberg is a freelance food writer and the creator of the award-winning blog Orangette. She is a regular contributor to Bon Appetite, and her writing has been featured on NPR.org and PBS.org and has been praised in The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, and The Seattle Times. Wizenberg has degrees in human biology, French, and cultural anthropology, but in 2005, she left the world of academia to write full-time.