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The Gastronomy of Marriage: A Memoir of Food and Love Paperback – September 8, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks (September 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812979192
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812979190
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,180,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

First-time memoirist Maisto turns out a subtle valentine to cooking and New York City life in this chronicle of two foodies in love. Maisto is a charming writer with a keen wit and sense of setting, whether describing tennis in her beloved Brooklyn neighborhood, or reluctantly making Jell-O for her fiancé. Despite her skill, however, the book struggles to get off the ground. What momentum there is springs from Maisto's imminent nuptials, but the actual wedding ends up a side note next to the recurring question of what to make for dinner. Low-stress recipes for favorite comfort foods are scattered throughout, including her grandmother's Walnut Tarts and a dressed-up boxed chocolate cake mix recipe, each worth reading: instructions for simmering lentils include lying on the couch and "watching a television program that the person you live with, but who is not home now, thinks is stupid." Readers homesick for New York will get the most out of the book, but it's unlikely to stick out in an increasingly cluttered field of food memoirs.
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“Michelle Maisto’s tender book traces the journey toward a momentous occasion—her wedding—with honesty, love and vulnerability, all played out before, during and after one mouth-watering meal after another.”—Matt McAllester, author of Bittersweet: Lessons from My Mother’s Kitchen

The Gastronomy of Marriage is spirited, intimate and great fun. Maisto writes with a vital contemporary frankness that belies a truly romantic spirit. The result is a wonderful marriage.”—Aleksandra Crapanzano, James Beard Award-winning writer

"Perfectly delicious, The Gastronomy of Marriage feeds the mind and soul in every way.  Lyrical, fresh, honest and true, Maisto examines the year leading up to her marriage with sincerity and intelligence, shedding new light on the every-day dilemmas modern women face as they seek to nourish themselves and the ones they adore.   The recipes, taken from Maisto's Italian-American family and her husband-to-be's Chinese-American heritage, are unique, practical and inviting, and the love story—as American as they come—utterly captivates.  A must-read for anyone who has navigated the complicated waters of coupling, from beginning to end."—Kamy Wicoff, author of I Do But I Don't: Why The Way We Marry Matters

“Come for the writing, the insights into family, the understanding of the place food and the act of making it hold in life and memory, and stay for the pastina, the tofu, the cream puffs and the deep affection Michelle and Rich have for one another. A sweet and wise memoir.”—Dorie Greenspan, author of Baking from My Home to Yours

“‘What should we have for dinner?’ can sometimes prove a most provocative question. This book tells the story of combining two lives and two inherited cooking styles (Italian and Chinese) into something new, improvisational, and quintessentially American."—Alix Kates Shulman, author of To Love What Is: A Marriage Transformed

More About the Author

Michelle Maisto has been writing about food since the second grade, when she penned a short story about an anxious grocery store tomato.

She's made teeth-optional desserts in a convalescent-home kitchen, waited tables in Greek and Caribbean restaurants, scooped thousands of cookies as a baker's assistant, poured and quaffed flights behind a wine bar, sold pizzas at a racetrack concession stand, and still was slow to realize she has more than a normal interest in food. She has a BA from the University of New Hampshire, an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, Rich, who occasionally makes dinner.

Michelle hails from the Garden State, blogs at and spends an admittedly inordinate amount of time thinking about cheese, wine, coffee and dinner.

Customer Reviews

I devoured this book.
A. Thomas
In The Gastronomy of Marriage the couple preparing for marriage is to drawn into a fascinating love story featuring Michelle and Rich.
Donald McKenzie
I will definitely try out some of the recipes included throughout the book.
N. J. Nannini

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on October 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
When Michelle Maisto went to dinner for the first time with Rich, she was taken by the way he took pains to order the chocolate soufflé at the beginning of the meal, thus ensuring a delicious warm treat for dessert. Food is an important part of Michelle's life; the soufflé incident is significant because it reveals a meaningful new layer to Rich's personality. She is now acutely aware that they are connected through their love of good meals.

There are other pivotal points to their burgeoning relationship. At his apartment, she notices a DVD of a movie she alone seems to adore --- and is amazed to hear he is also a fan. Much more dramatically, when Michelle is accepted into Columbia and must move across the country, Rich relocates with her. It isn't until she graduates and they become engaged, however, that they actually start living together.

And that's when the trouble begins.

Michelle adores Rich, but she has conflicted feelings about entering into a marriage. Her mixed emotions are symbolized by the couple's eating arrangements. Suddenly, their love of eating becomes a hurdle --- even more so when Rich must take on extra work so they can pay for their wedding, necessitating Michelle's offer to solely shop and cook (chores they had previously shared). Their eating differences and preferences are also magnified. Michelle is a vegetarian; Rich eats meat. She has an Italian heritage; his is Chinese. While Michelle can digest just about anything, Rich's system is more delicate, yet she is content with a very light evening meal, and he requires something rather substantial. When it comes to meals, Michelle is a planner while Rich would rather be more spontaneous.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By wiredweird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
Michelle Maisto present an intriguing autobiography. It covers about six months of her life in a non-linear kind of way, the period that led up to her marriage. It includes the usual tensions, like compatibility between the couple's very different ethnic and religious backgrounds, plus the controlled panic that seems to precede just about every wedding.

Others have described these moments in life, with their odd rewards and compromises. For Maisto, however, food and dining become the central metaphor. She likes to have the menu planned in advance; he actually seems uneasy if it's not a last-minute inspiration. His family taught him the light, clear flavors of Chinese cooking, hers taught her about rich sauces and deep warm tastes. As in every part of a relationship, very different solutions work for different problems: taking turns, each going their separate way, learning and adapting the other's style, or striking out in some direction equally new to them both, rather than favor one or the other.

I found myself drawn to this book, even without the intriguing recipes that end a few of the chapters. My own marriage has involved food from the very start, when my now-wife discovered that I could not only cook but cook fairly well. (I recommend cooking to any young man who wants an edge in attracting the ladies.) We've dealt with the family holidays, the comfort foods that border on holy ritual, and the vegetarian vs. omnivore question, just as Maisto and her fiance have. I guess part of what intrigued me was how much Maisto's solutions, with her beau, differed from the ones that have played out in my own life.

That's the purpose of books like this, however. They celebrate our differences as couples and individuals just as much as they demonstrate our similarities. This isn't an earth-shaking book, but a warm and very human exploration, phrased around one of the most basic of experiences: the sharing of food.

-- wiredweird
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Edward Loh on October 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
Full disclosure: I happen to know the author and her husband. Not well, but enough that you should take this review with a pinch of salt. Preferably French sea salt harvested from pristine Atlantic seawater and dried under an early summer sun.

So the book is Rich. And about his marriage to Michelle. It is also tasty, satisfying, hearty, sweet but not cloying, nourishing but not heavy. It is definitely food for thought and reflection, especially if you are considering marriage or that fourth bowl of pork fried rice.

It is a book to be read with a full heart, but not an empty stomach. The inspired recipes and thoughtful commentary will leave you grinning - but starving.

Who should read this book? Food lovers. Lovers in general. Anyone who salivates while reading the following words: sriracha, anisette, prosciutto, soba, profiteroles, pappardelle, scallions, rabbit ragu, pasta e fagioli.

Sidenote - if you love New York City or have dreamed of living there, this book will give you insight in a context you've probably never considered.

You know when you're sitting at a restaurant, staring blankly at the menu, trying to decide between the house special or the one scrawled in chalk out front? This is that moment. Go with the easy, the reliable, the tried and true? No, be adventurous! This is the one - fresh, new, delicious. Don't look back. Get it and revel in your choice, savor every morsel. Drink it in. Slurp it down. And then rave about it to all of your friends.

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