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Tasting Home: Coming of Age in the Kitchen [Kindle Edition]

Judith Newton
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (152 customer reviews)

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Book Description

If Julia Child had cooked Italian for a gay husband, used sugar to sweeten a sour childhood, and hosted buffets for a better world, she could have written Tasting Home: Coming of Age in the Kitchen.

In this food memoir, Judith Newton shares the unforgettable story of a life on the front lines of activism and in the kitchen. During a difficult childhood, food and cooking were sources of comfort and emotional sustenance.  And in the decades to come, through her marriage to a gay man, her discovery of feminism, her life in a commune, and her career as an academic, she used food to sustain personal and political relationships, mourn losses, and celebrate victories. As she earned her activist stripes in the 1960s and beyond, she also learned how food could ease tension, foster community, and build cross-racial ties.

Tasting Home combines recipes with personal vignettes, in the classic form of food memoirs by writers such as M.F.K. Fisher and Ruth Reichl, to take us on a remarkable journey through the cuisines, cultural spirit, and politics of the 1940s through the 2000s inviting us to feel how deeply food is tied to identity, love, community, and political engagement.

See an essay based on this book, "A Valentine for My Gay Ex-Husband,"
at Huffington Post Judith Newton.

Tasting Home has received ten independent press awards and a starred review (meaning
"outstanding in its genre") from Publisher's Weekly Select.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Judith Newton has spent her life searching for home and family while pursuing an academic career. From seeking affection from her mother and time spent in communal living to her involvement in civil rights struggles, her choice to have a child, and the death of her best friend, Newton has marked the many phases of her life with food. Each chapter of this engaging memoir includes a recipe that relates to a corresponding time in Newton's life. Readers will find her story delightful and resonant—especially given the universal relationship between food and family. This is a well-paced coming-of-age story with all the right ingredients: honesty, well-drawn characters, and plenty of insight.  A Publishers Weekly Starred Review


Tasting Home is more than a food memoir. Influenced by the civil rights struggle, the women's movement, and the AIDS epidemic, it is an odyssey of emotional, intellectual, and spiritual growth.  Cooking serves as a powerful metaphor for the difficulties and pleasures of relations among mothers and daughters; husbands and wives; gays and heterosexuals; and racial-ethnic groups.  Tasting Home, like a grand meal, is a resounding success.  --Belinda Robnett, author of How Long? How Long? African-American Women in the Struggle for Civil Rights.

"This is a baby-boomer's dream: a book full of anecdotes about coming of age in during the sexual revolution of the sixties -- with recipes! . . . an ingeniously conceived, tightly written, and beautifully packaged memoir, a vibrant portrait of the American feminine cultural experience from the 1950s forward." Independent Publisher

"In this captivating memoir, Newton draws the reader into a world where major events are brought to life with poignant food memories. . . . Each vignette is pitch-perfect, lively, and engaging, striking a delicate balance between self-disclosure and universal themes of  acceptance, love, community-building, and political engagement." --Janet A. Flammang, author of The Taste for Civilization: Food, Politics, and Civil Society

Product Details

  • File Size: 542 KB
  • Print Length: 323 pages
  • Publisher: She Writes Press (March 1, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #570,305 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life's Reflections as Told Through Recipes May 20, 2013
I loved this book! As a memoir, I really connected with this book. Judith takes us through the stages of her life and her personal and professional struggles, achievements and setbacks. Much of reading this book for me was like listening to a good friend. I felt that while she clearly discussed difficulties in terms of her relationship (or lack there of) with her mother, she used it as an opportunity to make different choices in her life. Connecting the stages of her life with favorite recipes took the book to a whole new level for me. I clearly have certain foods/recipes that connect me to different places/times of my life and I thought this added a great dimension to the book. Now that I have read and savored the book, I am looking forward to cooking my way through the recipes.

I won this book in a giveaway from Goodreads, but that has not influenced my thoughts on the book or this review. I highly recommend this book. I think it would make a great gift as well.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
From the very first chapter of Tasting Home I was hooked.

Author Judith Newton has taken two of my favorite loves: food and family and put them together in a way that tells not just her story but that of so many of us. Who could deny that certain dishes that we might consider "comfort food" brings to mind a person or event that still lingers with us. In her book TASTING HOME Judith shares how early in life her view of cooking was shaped by her mother and what it actually meant to be an adult. It was through food that some of the most powerful conversations and connections were made---and it was also a reminder that no matter how much you might savor something it might not last.

This was true with Judith as she watched the man who was her heart pass away from her, and realizing how helpless she felt in dealing with it and what were perceived as her own shortcomings.

In one powerful scene that shared their story she wrote this: "I'd married a man who thought he might be gay," but I was the one with the sexual problem. Bewildered and anxious about our marriage and myself, I poured my love for Dick into my Italian cooking, the Italian cure redone. Instead of sex and romance, I dished up plates of what Keats had called the "warm" and sensuous "South".

Food became more than just a conversation piece. Throughout Judith's life it was sometimes a conversation starter, opening the door for friendships to be made, trust to be established and even a meeting of the minds.

Through each year you are able to see not only the evolution of the woman she has now become but the role that the kitchen played in the process.

Definitely a book that will speak to your heart as well as your taste buds, TASTING HOME proves to be real food for your soul.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Home in the kitchen March 26, 2013
Judith Newton grabbed me on the first page of Tasting Home. She laments the need to give up some of her treasured cookbooks as she moves into a new home. I joined in the mourning, for during my own recent move I did give away many of my own treasures, and now I repent and regret the decision just about every time that I walk by my kitchen bookcase. Fortunately, Newton realized that she must keep the books.

Good for her! For a couple of reasons: she still has those wonderful books and the memories they hold, and she opens up her shelves to us as she shares her turbulent life in this intriguing memoir. Food is home, and most times, home is in the kitchen. "I realized that cookbooks were more to me than a reflection of my past," she writes.

They are indeed, and she uses them, a variety of them, to tell her story. Tasting Home offers a bonus--many of the recipes come directly from familiar books. Some I own (or have owned), like Julia Child and the Moosewood books. Others are totally new-to-me books with recipes that make me start thinking about dinner tonight while I read in the morning.

"A girl who can sew like you, why would you want to go to college?" Newton's aunt's question seemed a natural one in her society of California working folks. Why would she? Fortunately her father and a wise school counselor prevailed. She left her boyfriend and headed for Stanford and an undreamed-of life. She never left school; she simply changed sides of the desk as she built her career in academia. Don't think an ivy-covered, quiet life. While growing and maintaining her career, Newton led a fascinating life marked by love, leaving, and loving again, and yet again.
Read more ›
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tasting Home June 14, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I love this book! Did not want it to end!!!!! Everything she wrote about, I could look
back on my life, and remember what I was doing and cooking!!! (Some of the same things)
Her book made me feel like I was talking to a old friend! LOVE, LOVE, THIS BOOK!!!!!
The best book, that have read in a long time.I read a lot!!! Will read anything she writes!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Culinary Tour Through the Cultural Revolution May 17, 2013
In this beautifully written memoir, Newton opens her recipe books, her memory, and her heart to take us through the culinary, cultural, sexual, and personal revolutions through which she's lived. With food as the vehicle, she takes us through her own coming of age as well as her life-long search for a sense of "home". Brave and vulnerable, the story lets us into both the sweet and the bitter of Newton's life, but ended leaving me wanting to join her at an abundant table surrounded with good friends. I dare you not to get hungry and nostalgic reading this story. Good thing recipes are also included.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Marilyn
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
A little scattered and slow moving.
Published 1 month ago by Cecelia S. Flowers
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Unusual story, but interesting.
Published 2 months ago by Sherri Jedlicki
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this book which is very different from other novels
I enjoyed this book which is very different from other novels; the author bases her story around the foods she cooked/created over the years of her life. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Kitty Mackay
3.0 out of 5 stars Love Through Food
As the title would suggest, this memoir focuses on food and its role in the author's life as she works out relationships with her parents, friends, lovers, husband and daughter. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Lin Gelbmann
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Loved the telling of the story around recipes
Published 5 months ago by Patricia Yacovone
3.0 out of 5 stars Tasting Home
Interesting beginning, good recipes but became boring. Someone interested in the Womens movement might like it. I didn't complete.
Published 6 months ago by Junebug
1.0 out of 5 stars This is a feminist?
I can't believe that this woman describes herself as a feminist and directed a Gender Studies program. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Elaina A
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting memoir, with recipes
This was an interesting mix. It was really the story of a child who felt unloved and worthless, in a house where food was a stand-in for love. Read more
Published 6 months ago by The Bionic Stan
2.0 out of 5 stars More Story than Recipes
This was more of a autobiography with some memory recipes. Included. I found myself skipping many pages of narrative to get to a recipe
Published 6 months ago by Nana
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More About the Author


Judith Newton is Professor Emerita in Women and Gender Studies at U.C. Davis. While at U.C. Davis she directed the Women and Gender Studies program for eight years and the Consortium for Women and Research for four.

Her memoir, Tasting Home: Coming of Age in the Kitchen, is now available for pre-order and is forthcoming with She Writes Press on March 1, 2013.

Newton is also the author and co-editor of five works of non fiction on nineteenth-century British women writers, feminist criticism, women's history, and men's movements. Four of these works were reprinted by Routledge and the University of Michigan Press in the fall of 2012.

Her most current work has appeared in The Huffingon Post(February 8, 2013), The Redwood Coast Review (Winter 2012), poetalk (Summer, 2011), at, and at In 2011 and 2012 six chapters of her memoir won contests sponsored by women's She is currently at work on a feminist mystery and lives in the East Bay of California where she tends her garden and cooks for family and friends.

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