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Spoonful of Promises: Stories & Recipes From A Well-Tempered Table Hardcover – November 1, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Lyons Press (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762772506
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762772506
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #920,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"I guarantee that Chang's memoir will touch your heart, make you laugh out loud, and bring forth many of your own memories as well--ones I bet you didn't even know centered around food." --Emily Geaman, HCPdishes  

"My pick for best cookbook of 2011... A beautiful and heartfelt collection of stories about food and love written by a tender and talented writer. ..Buy this book for yourself, for your friends and your family: it is all about the ties that bind." -Monica Bhide, A Life of Spice

"With charm, style, wit, and really great writing, Chang takes us into her world, sharing stories of the foods she loves (some totally and happily beyond reason) and the recipes she treasures, and with each story we think a little more about ourselves, our families, and the food that nourishes us in every way. If you haven't read Chang before, you'll be captivated; if you have, you'll be delighted to have so many of her stories in one place—next to your most comfortable armchair." ~Dorie Greenspan, author of Around My French Table"Be prepared to lose yourself in A Spoonful of Promises. Poetic, poignant, and addictive, Chang's essays are a delicious reminder of how cooking comforts and connects us, and ultimately provides some of our most treasured memories. This is a classic destined to be an essential book for every food lover." ~Grace Young, author of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge and The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen"Susan Chang takes readers on an eclectic voyage through her culinary memory, from childhood recollections (and recipes) of wonton soup to savory chard tart. And a story about Ring Dings eaten with popcorn? I'm there! It's a beautifully told, evocative book to savor." ~Melissa Clark, author of Cook This Now

From the Inside Flap

A Spoonful of Promises: Stories & Recipes from a Well-Tempered Table is a collection of mouthwatering stories whose common thread is intimacy—between family and friends, parents and children. Here, food is a metaphor, a sixth sense that binds to the drama of our lives and to moments that might otherwise be forgotten. Each of author T. Susan Chang's food stories explores facets of the human condition, whether nostalgia, romance, loyalty, love, guilt, envy, or hope, each in its most delicious form. The book—comprising thirty-three essays with recipes—begins with food scenes from Chang's childhood, memories that forever tie her to the mother she lost to cancer early in her life, and to the family that helped shape who she is today. This is followed by practical recipes for the weeknight parent and lessons Chang learned along her own parenting journey. Finally, Chang dips into more adventurous cooking for special occasions: once-in-a-lifetime recipes and experiences meant to be shared with family, friends, or even strangers—who, as the saying goes, are only friends we haven't met before.

More About the Author

T. Susan Chang is a freelance food writer who regularly reviews cookbooks for the Boston Globe and NPR. She is a regular contributor to NPR's Kitchen Window column, and the cookbook reviewer for Eat Your Books, the cookbook-indexing website, where she also has a weekly blog. She lives in western Massachusetts. Visit her at tsusanchang.com.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By lambert simnel on January 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
An old college friend of mine, who in the city creates dazzling store windows at a high-end department store that seem like Joseph Cornell boxes on steroids, modestly prefers the title "window dresser." Similarly, NPR Kitchen Window writer and sometime Morning Edition guest T. Susan Chang somehow comes across as a timeless, born cook right out of "The Flounder" by Gunter Grass--this without owning the slightest desire to present herself as such. Chang makes of her journey to culinary competence a sometimes hilarious, often poignant picaresque in which she encounters beloved human ghosts coupled with phantoms of forgotten tastes and aromas. Most chapters are vivid with the appetites of those she loves and cooks for now (many of whom we actually meet in photographs of her own) reminding us that everything about food is context.

This is reward enough, but I challenge the curious to crack the book at any chapter, perhaps "The Man Who Couldn't Cook." In the tradition of M.F.K. Fisher, following the trajectory of Chang's sentences is its own, musical, pleasure. Topics ranging from ring dings to stuffed squash blossoms to chicken pot pie are effortlessly nested in life lived and lightly glazed in unapologetic gluttony. The few arcane or challenging dishes that might seem unapproachable or hopelessly fussy in less capable hands can be read, paradoxically, as a solid and careful blueprint for a loopy adventure. This is the kind of book that could make an enthusiast of even a food agnostic, the way a well written book on cod, table salt or tulips makes bemused converts of people who didn't know they cared.

In sum, you're likely to make a feast of this book whether you end up recreating every recipe or none. (I've made the soul-sustaining apple cake.) Certified kitchen chops are not necessary. All you need to bring to "A Spoonful of Promises" is some memory of having lived and loved... and a good appetite.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Z. Childs on January 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
My husband and I like to read aloud, and we read a chapter of "A Spoonful of Promises" to each other every night. Aside from making us extremely hungry right before bedtime, this book inspires nothing but praise. Chang manages to make obsessive foodie-ness accessible and endearing - never alienating. She deftly weaves her passion for food into these charming, witty, often poignant personal essays about life, love and the ties of family. For her, preparing food is truly a labor of love (I wonder what will happen when her kids find out that not every mom spends 90 minutes in the morning preparing their eggs). Needless to say this book gives back - I tried the recipe for beef chili this weekend, and to say it was a hit would be an understatement. We're talking instant lifelong go-to chili recipe here. I can't wait to try the rest.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Evan Spring on January 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The term "food writer" would not do justice to Chang's achievement here; in these short- to medium-length chapters with recipes attached, she makes food a universal subject, inspiring any reader (foodie or otherwise) to think of everyday life as an ongoing personal essay. She moves seamlessly from food expert to regular mom with two kids, wearing her overachieverdom lightly (she casually reveals being a former literary editor, cooking school grad, proficient saxophonist, etc.) and bridging the high (in one failed garden experiment, "the compost was rich only with hubris") and low ("If we could have, we would have rushed to the pharmacy to buy a vegetable pregnancy kit"). The reader is motivated not only to learn a few dishes (the recipes here are time-tested and extremely thorough) but also to render some part of his or her everyday life in essay form.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By scl on January 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think this was my favorite book of 2011. Captivating, delightful, moving and motivating. I liked it so much I bought a copy for several friends and each of my siblings. They are all so grateful. As am I.
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