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My Fat Dad: A Memoir of Food, Love, and Family, with Recipes Paperback – September 29, 2015

4.9 out of 5 stars 89 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Dawn Lerman grew up Jewish in the 70's. I grew up Italian. Might sound different, but for the most part, it’s the same. Especially when it comes to food. The philosophy was simple, food = love. My Fat Dad hilariously and poignantly captures that essence Whether you’re Italian, Jewish, or anything else you can relate to how family, food, and the love of both affect how we grow up, and live our life. Mangia!”—Ray Romano, Emmy award-winning actor
 
“Everything you want in a book about food: Thoughtful, moving, funny and, of course, delicious (see the recipe on sweet potato latkes). Dawn reminds us that eating is about much more than protein and carbs and nutrients—it’s about family, history and identity. Dawn’s grandmother put it best: ‘I can find my heritage in a bowl of soup.’”—A.J. Jacobs, journalist and New York Times bestselling author of Drop Dead Healthy
 
“Dawn Lerman takes the reader along on one of life's important journeys—to find true nourishment. Her discoveries about the powerful ways that food connects us to our families, our heritage, and ultimately to ourselves are profound and beautiful.”—Andie Mitchell, New York Times bestselling author of It Was Me All Along

“A quasi-memoir cookbook that will have readers laughing, crying, and nodding all at the same time…Lerman is engaging.”—Booklist

“Laced with love, family dramas, recipes, and the pangs of growing up, Lerman’s memoir is a satisfying treat.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Lerman herself reveals a novelist’s sensibility for scene-setting and storytelling. She is a genuine sensualist in the best sense of the word…My Fat Dad is both a rich and evocative memoir and a fully functional cookbook, a reading experience that is pleasurable in itself, but also invites the reader into the kitchen again and again.”—Jewish Journal

“This is a memoir that readers will find they can't put down, except maybe for a few minutes to gather ingredients to make some of the delicious-sounding recipes that Lerman generously includes.”—Times Record News (Wichita Falls)
 
“A compelling and inherently fascinating read that will resonate with readers who have food relative family memories of their own…Very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library American Biography collections.”—Midwest Book Review
 
“Laced with humor, wit, and touch of sadness (as it is real life), the Lerman tale seems to overlaps bits of everyone's human journey.”—Bay Area Family Travel
 
“Lerman is an astute story teller. When the last page was devoured, I felt as though I made a new friend.”—Circle of Food

About the Author

Dawn Lerman is a board-certified nutrition expert and a contributor to The New York Times Well blog. Her company, Magnificent Mommies, provides nutrition education to students, teachers, and corporations. She lives in New York City with her two children, Dylan and Sofia.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (September 29, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425272230
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425272237
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #336,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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You'll laugh, cry and get hungry while reading "My Fat Dad." This page-turning and sometimes heartbreaking memoir is about Dawn's soul-saving bond with her Grandmother Beauty and their loving connection through food. Dawn, who was born in Chicago, grew up in New York City during the '70s and early '80s. Her always dieting dad was a globe-trotting, famed ad "Mad Man." Her couldn't-care-less-about-eating, eccentric and very frugal stage mom was more interested in acting and her social life. As a result, Dawn, for the most part, raised herself and her best-friend little sister, who wound up being in the stage play and film version "Annie." Every part of Dawn's life is connected to wonderful and not-so-wonderful food memories and proves that truth is definitely more interesting than fiction. At the end of each chapter are mouth-watering recipes: classics ( some from Beauty and Aunt Jeannie), tweaked classics reflecting Dawn's nutritional expertise and, of course, originals.
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My appetite was intoxicated by this courageous life story of a young girl who was so loved by her grandmother who taught her to communicate with her family thru recipes and cooking when her parents were engrossed in their own lives. Everyone should be blessed with Beauty - and may her spirit live on when it is easier to gripe about poor parenting instead of finding a way of dealing with it in a nurturing and delicious way. Bravo Ms. Lerman for a wonderful tribute.
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As a “Fat Dad” of two daughters myself, I could empathize with Dawn’s dad, who tried every diet under the sun. I thoroughly enjoyed every chapter, but to avoid temptation passed over reading the delicious-sounding recipes. And being a first-generation American of European parents, I know first-hand about the addictive qualities of delicious ethnic foods, especially with a grandmother who really knew how to cook. Dawn writes in a clear, personal, and humorous way, and I felt a twinge of sadness as the book was going to end. Now I’d like a detailed volume about her sister’s stage, TV, and film career. Congratulations on creating such a wonderful book!
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SPOILER ALERT----I want to start by saying that I was not able to put the book down until I finished it. The ""It's ok", 3 star rating has more to do with the story than the book. This story is difficult to read, I don't know any other way to put it. As a follower and avid reader of Ms. Lerman's NYT column, I've come to the conclusion that there is a big difference between reading the vignettes in the column as opposed to the whole story at once. The book also "fleshes out" the story that we don't see in the column.
Why do I think the story is hard to read? It is hard, really really hard, almost impossibly hard, to read this book without judging people. I grew up in the era Ms. Lerman has written about. Even in those non-helicopter parent, latch key kid days, a child who was not old enough to drive being left alone while her father went out of the country, would have raised more than a few eyebrows. Yes, even in New York City. Not for a second do I claim that affluent/rich parents did not leave their children for months at a time. Certainly they did. However, they left them with a housekeeper, or a nanny, or a family member. Of course there were schools that became concerned about kids who seemed too much on their own. Those affluent schools were more likely to have made their point in such a way that the parents would have hired staff and given at least the appearance of a responsible adult in residence. Dawn's parents were guilty of child neglect that likely qualified as criminal, even then.
It's hard for me to absolve Beauty as well. She KNEW what was happening. Yes, I get that she tried to give Dawn the skills and tools to feed herself and her sister.
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Format: Paperback
Nutritionist, New York Times blogger and author Dawn Lerman grew up consumed by food, witness to her 450-lb. father’s see-saw obsession with diets. A man controlled by his own battles with eating, her father’s struggles took a toll, forcing his family onto the roller coaster of fad diets and an overall unhealthy attitude toward food. Yet, no one else in the family was overweight, a minor miracle.

If it’s true the kitchen is at the heart of the traditional home, Lerman’s family’s adversarial relationship with food was at odds with their family’s rich Jewish heritage, filled with meals to comfort the soul. Fortunately, Dawn’s maternal grandmother, Beauty, came to her rescue, both in providing a sense of love and stability and teaching her how to cook wonderfully flavorful, traditional dishes, essentially rescuing her from starvation and a childhood deprived of much in the way of nutrition. Even more powerfully, Beauty’s legacy set Dawn on the path that would carry her into her life’s calling, founding Magnificent Mommies, a company providing nutrition education to students, teachers and corporations.

To read about Beauty is to love her; she was the sort of grandmother we all wish we’d had, or at least I do. Coming from a family fragmented, cut adrift from extended relations, I grew up in an environment devoid of nutritious foods. The Deep South formed my heritage, a world filled with biscuits and fried chicken and heavy, carbohydrate-dripping meals held together by animal fat. Though not as extreme, my own mother fad dieted her way through most of my life, reinforcing my own love-hate battle with food.
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