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The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes and Stories of My Life Paperback – Deckle Edge, August 11, 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 137 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This effort from the author of The Great Santini and The Prince of Tides is a joy on several levels. Conroy might not be the first to disguise a memoir as a collection of foodstuffs, but it's hard to imagine a more entertaining, honest and outlandish effort. In 21 chapters and 100 recipes, he traces his masticating, lusting, family-crazed, traveling life from a dysfunctional childhood in the South (with a tyrannical father and a mother who thought of cooking as "slave labor"), to gourmet adventures in Rome, Paris and the table of Alain Ducasse. The book aches with tales of times when eating is at its most urgent: in the face of love, or death, after an all-nighter with the guys or in the company of other great eaters. It's hard not to admire Conroy's innate ability to spin a yarn. And the food's not bad, either. From Conroy's days in the Carolina Low Country there are Crab Cakes and Peach Pie. In Italy, it's Ribollita and Saltimbocca alla Romana. A chapter entitled "Why Dying Down South Is More Fun" suggests proper fare for mourning, such as Pickled Shrimp and Grits Casserole. As Robert Frost might have pointed out, writing prose in a cookbook is like playing tennis without a net. Conroy is free to scatter his memories like buckshot with no real worries of chapter endings, plot lines and character development. In his hands, the technique propels both writer and reader into a state of fullness.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Fans of Conroy's novels will snap up copies of their idol's cookbook for more than just its recipes. Although Conroy offers a few recipes for dishes that he has loved since childhood, he comes to admire more sophisticated fare when celebrity gives him access to whatever his tastes may desire. Conroy's earliest introduction to cooking came from the pages of Escoffier, the rigorous French chef who based his cuisine on stocks, and his example influenced Conroy's cookery forever. A stay in Rome gave Conroy nearly equal appreciation for Italian cooking. The true savor of the book rests in Conroy's ability to tell absorbing tales of how divergent dishes and exceptional ingredients came to be important to him. Thus, one of the book's vivid moments comes in a discussion of Vidalia onions with Conroy relating a hilarious story involving football, Wild Turkey, and a tart-tongued septuagenarian southern belle. Literary historians will particularly relish Conroy's account of how he came to write the ending of The Great Santini (1976). Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese; Reprint edition (August 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385532717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385532716
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.8 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #346,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Pat Conroy is my favorite author, and it is fitting that he dedicates the same passion for cooking as he does for his writing in his new book, The Pat Conroy Cookbook. The fact that Conroy is so fascinated with food is in itself ironic. Conroy grew up in a house where food was important, but good food was not. In fact, he regrets that his mother "looked upon food as a necessity, not a realm of art." Her idea of seafood every Friday night was fish sticks. This all changed when his wife announced that she was going to law school, and he would have to start preparing the meals for his family (consisting of three young daughters). Conroy is an avid reader and a keen observer, so he began his education in earnest. First, he went to the local bookstore. Instead of recommending something basic and easy (like Betty Crocker), the owner talked Conroy into purchasing a book by the French chef, Escoffier. Soon, he was immersed in the world of making stock, roux and exotic foods. He discovered that cooking could be great fun, and combined the skills of being an artist with those needed to become a mad chemist.

As part of his culinary education, Conroy also became an avid collector. He collected cookbooks, and especially enjoyed those homey books published by churches and civic groups. They not only offered great recipes, but also precious nuggets of knowledge such as "store mushrooms and string beans in a brown paper bag in the refrigerator, not in plastic." Next, he started a collection of culinary friends. Some were cooks, some were chefs, and others just enjoyed good food. Then he started collecting recipes. Many came from friends and family, others he created or recreated. He added foods to his repertoire (things such as white asparagus and escargot).
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Format: Hardcover
If you are not sure about buying "Recipes of My Life" here are a few guidelines I would use in recommending the book to anyone:

If you like any of Pat Conroy's writing, buy this book.

If you enjoy food, buy this book.

If you enjoy cooking, buy this book.

If you have no clue who Pat Conroy is, if you have no particular interest in good food, or fine cooking, but you love to hear a good story, buy this book.

If you are in search of outstanding recipes - from down-home Southern cooking to fine Italian cuisine...BUY it.

And for God's sake if you are like me and can't make a good stock, BUY the book!

Above all I find Pat Conroy to be a master story-teller, and for that reason alone I recommend this book to anyone. A delight to read, from front to back. And now I can make a stock to be proud of!
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Format: Hardcover
Tres Magnifique, Pat. The introduction to each chapter reads as easily and with as much anticipation as his novels. Once the recipes were introduced, I had to spend the rest of the day in my kitchen preparing stock and sauces for a post script meal. I have just finished this book and as usual I want for more.
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Format: Hardcover
This little gem is wonderful in a literal sense - it inspires wonder. First, how terrific to see a great photo of Pat standing tall on the cover with a bucket of low country oysters. It's hard not to look at him and see all the leading characters from his books - the young teacher from Water is Wide, the scared and brave cadet from Lords of Discipline, the brave lost survivor from Prince of Tides, etc.

This book is for anyone who loves Pat's books. It's truly a story of his life, but amazingly, threaded together by the food and meals he's experienced, and friends who've shared those meals with him. Many of the real-life characters from Pat's fiction weave in and out of these meals - his beloved fish-hating mother, his feared but irreplaceable fighter-pilot father, his 'paisan' roommates from The Citadel, his Roman neighbors from Beach Music, etc.

The most pleasant surprise for me from this book, is Pat's stories breathe rich life into his recipes, making them more full and sensual than recipes on the flat page of most other cookbooks. For example, his recipe for pickled shrimp is fairly straightforward in ingredient and preparation, but for Pat, this is a signature dish he brings to memorials when a friend dies. His story lets us see and feel the food hungrily devoured by the friends and loved ones of the deceased, as Pat feels the pride of feeding them in their time of grief. I began the book thinking the recipes would be throwaways, and ended with a dozen or so recipes I plan to try.

Bravo Pat! Someday I hope to read The Boo - your one story I have yet to track down. As long as you write and I read, I will be reading the terrific stories you tell.
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Format: Hardcover
One of my friends once aptly described Pat Conroy as a cross between Thomas Wolfe and Alan Alda. She was absolutely right--no noun is ever left unmodified and most of the time there's a darn good punchline.

This cookbook is a random selection of stories--many funny, some sad, interspersed with recipies. As a Conroy fan and as someone who reads cookbooks for fun, I loved it.

Warning. If you make the recipie for the incredibly rich pound cake in the book, double the amount of vanilla the recipie calls for. When I make it again, I'll add lemon zest and soak it in lemon-sugar syrup.
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