Cooking for Mr. Latte; A Foodlover's Courtship, With Recipes is probably the closest thing to a 'summer Foodie beach book' that I can think of. Written by Amanda Hesser, a food writer for the New York Times, the book follows the courtship of the author and her beau (writer Tad Friend - the titular Mr. Latte) with relevant recipes included. The author is a fine writer, and although I found her somewhat saccharine spin on things to be a little too sweet at times (how could someone who worked the line in so many kitchens still be so... prissy?), I really enjoyed the book overall. My favorite parts of the book were the ecclectic assortment of recipes at the end of every chapter, all respectfully presented with notes from the author (or the friend or family member who was the source of the recipe).
Although much of the book's 'action' revolves around stories about the progression of the author's relationship with Mr Latte (dubbed 'Mr. Latte' for his uncouth habit of ordering a latte after dinner - for shame!), lots of the chapters branch out to focus on dinner parties with friends and family, as well as foodie get-togethers and dining experiences. Although the author's passion for good food comes through every step of the way, by the end of the book I was very sure of several things.
1) I never want to be a foodie, live with a foodie, or eat marathon meals with professional foodies. I like food. I enjoy quality food prepared well. I think I would be an extremely boring person if my life revolved around my meals, and I think I would rather kebob my eyeballs with skewers than talk about the merits of a single dish for hours and hours.
2) I would never want to prepare food for a food writer or food critic - my hat is off to all Amanda Hesser's friends who rose to the challenge.
3) Even food writers goof up too, and I appreciated all the honest accounts of dishes gone awry that the author herself couldn't make come together. I also liked the fact that almost every time she cooked for anyone else, she expressed fear about her dishes not coming out. Given I also feel panicked that my skills will fail me when put on the spot, I connected with the author when she shared her own 'performance anxieties.'
4) I loved that for all her food snobbery, the author included many much-loved recipes from friends or family that definitely couldn't be classified as pretentious or elitist (old family recipes that eschew butter in favor of Crisco, for instance).
5) I'm definitely copying a bunch of the recipes out of the book to try later; probably the highest compliment you could pay to a book like this!
Note to mass transit readers: because the book was written in installments for the New York Times Magazine, the short chapters are great for reading on a train or bus on the way to work! This is not a book that will change your life or your approach to food; it might inspire a couple good meals, though! A nice light summer-feeling read.Posted by rebecca on October 12, 2003 | TrackBack