From Publishers Weekly
Editor and food writer Hesser (Cooking for Mr. Latte
) selects 26 essays that originally appeared in the New York Times Magazine
to conjure up foreign places and familiar people through tastes and smells. While some of the essays follow a classic Proustian remembrance—a pungent clove of garlic evokes Gary Shteyngart's escape from the bland boiled dinners of his parents' home in Little Neck, Queens, N.Y., and dizzying orange blossom oil stirs up embarrassing moments from Henry Alford's trip to Morocco—the collection's wide-ranging essays also include less conventional descriptions of meals, such as Ann Patchett's elusive word game with her future husband in the Paris restaurant Taillevent, where the conversation is memorable but the sole and a sublime dessert escape her recollection. Empty Tang bottles become a powerful signifier in Yiyun Li's China, and the sound of crashing pots and pans invites a memorable excursion with John Burnham Schwartz and his expat friends in Paris. Chef Gabrielle Hamilton's faces a profound test of patience with a blind line cook emptying French fries into the drain, while George Saunders offers a hilarious and hyperbolic recipe for air. Illus. (Nov.)
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Food evokes memories, as Proust famously observed, and this collection of essays that appeared originally among the pages of the New York Times gives readers a grand buffet of viewpoints on how foods have influenced the course of writers’ lives in both great and small ways. Ann Patchett tells about an argument with a boyfriend that ruined what should have been a perfect, Lucullan repast in one of Paris’ most esteemed restaurants. Heidi Julavits recalls a sojourn in Japan where a delicious but unvarying diet of Japanese cuisine left her hungering for American-style sweets. Newsman Tucker Carlson professes his love for baked beans. Gary Shteyngart raises a paean to garlic as served profligately at a beloved Greenwich Village restaurant. Most of these essays have recipes appended so that readers whose own memories have been stirred by the printed word can produce the dishes they’ve just read about. --Mark Knoblauch