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Cooking for Gracie: The Making of a Parent from Scratch Hardcover – May 10, 2011
Guest Reviewer: Jonathan Evison
Long before I got my hands on an advanced reader's copy of Cooking for Gracie, I was a big fan of Keith Dixon's novels, Ghostfires and The Art of Losing. Dixon is a masterful storyteller, with a ton of heart, and an astounding facility for empathy. The fact is, I'd read anything Dixon were to write. Even a cookbook. Or a memoir about fatherhood. As fate would have it, it just so happens that I became a father myself two years ago, and I'm a closet foodie--ergo, I jumped at the chance to review Cooking for Gracie.
To call this book a memoir about cooking, would be doing it a great disservice. Not to downplay the wonderful recipes and cooking tutorials that fill Cooking for Gracie, but at the end of the day, this book stands alone as a wise, deeply felt and hilarious meditation on being a father, and being a husband.
Dixon is not only a craftsman, but an inspiration to anyone who is a father, or a husband, or anyone who aspires to be a father, or a husband. I wish I'd had this book two years ago!
"Dixon confronts the hurdles [of fatherhood] humorously and honestly…Foodie dads and moms will love Dixon’s voice, and wish he were cooking at their house."
"Keith Dixon tells the unvarnished truth about cooking after a new baby arrives. There will be tears, kitchen disasters, and ruined naptimes, leavened with fleeting moments of joy. Luckily, Keith brings three secret weapons to the table: patience, humor, and mouthwatering recipes. Gracie is adorable, sure, but I'd be lying if I told you I didn't fantasize about shoving her aside to get some of her dad's homemade kung pao chicken."
--Matthew Amster-Burton, author of Hungry Monkey
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The general aid-by-example to help you figure out how to cook delicious food around your baby's schedule is wonderful. The recipes themselves are a foodie's dream. However, my favorite part of the book is the memoir passages. Dixon bares the best and the worst of his attempts to figure out how to care for his wife and daughter, and the results are sweet, funny, whimsical, and melancholy by turns. I shed a few tears; I laughed out loud. I read a couple of entertaining passages to my husband.
I can think of few people who wouldn't enjoy Cooking for Gracie. To give you a taste of Dixon's style of musing, I'll quote from one of my favorite passages:
"The situation finds a fresh level of complication when you wake up (because the baby is crying) at 6 a.m. to go feed the baby with the distinct impression that you already did the 6 a.m. feeding--at which point you realize that you were dreaming about feeding the baby in between sessions of feeding the baby. These complications achieve a Borgesian complexity when you fall asleep while feeding the baby and somehow manage to dream about feeding the baby while you're feeding the baby."
It's a writing style thing at that point--the writing quality is lovely, so it's mostly a question of whether the style and topic appeal to you. As for me, I loved it!
[NOTE: review book provided by publisher]
I am not much of a chef, nor have I tried any of the recipes laid out in this book. I must say that most of them sound delicious and I plan to try a few of them in the coming weeks.
So my review is more about the memoir than the recipes. Dixon manages to tell his story in an honest, caring and human way. It doesn't come across as overly sentimental or cloying which must be quite a challenge given his subject matter.
I'd recommend this book for any foodie or someone interested in a real, honest and touching account of what being a new father means in today's world.