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Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lover's Courtship, with Recipes Hardcover – May, 2003

3.7 out of 5 stars 89 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Cooking for Mr. Latte is a delightfully modern dating story, recipes included. It's the true story of the courtship between Amanda Hesser, a food writer for The New York Times and author of the award-winning cookbook The Cook and the Gardener, and writer Tad Friend, the titular Mr. Latte. Most of the book was written in installments for the New York Times Magazine, but fans of Hesser's writing will be happy to know that there are plenty of new stories and recipes to justify picking up the book version. Her tale ends happily ever after, but has enough ups and downs to keep it interesting. And it's not all about Mr. Latte. Ever wonder what it's like to eat out with foodie guru Jeffrey Steingarten? Chances are you guessed wrong.

Food is an important aspect of Hesser's life (though it wasn't for Mr. Latte when they met, making for some of the downs in the ups and downs), but it's not until you notice how seamlessly Hesser weaves her meals into her story that you realize how much of our lives and our memories revolve around food. By the time you get to the recipes, you've already salivated over the dishes and become emotionally attached to them. From her mother's Chocolate Dump-It Cake to the Ginger Duck her future mother-in-law made the first time they met, you'll love that Hesser pays such close attention and generously shares the recipes. Filled with everything from old-fashioned treats from her grandmother's kitchen to dishes from some of New York's hottest dining spots, this is one entertaining read that is sure to end up in your kitchen. --Leora Y. Bloom


A love affair with food: tender, wry, playful, truthful. To read Hesser's prose is to hunger for more. -- Nigella Lawson, author of Forever Summer, Nigella Bites, How to Eat, and How to be a Domestic Goddess

Recipes, restaurant critiques, and food lore —all agreeably season New York Times food writer Hesser's beguiling story. -- Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039305196X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393051964
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,124,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on April 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book very much. I actually think it's better than The Cook and the Gardener for non-recipe content. Contrary to the "official" review, I did not think that the content was cutesy at all. Rather, I was glad to see Ms. Hesser admit to her faults, romantic, gourmet, and otherwise. I read the chapter about the Indian visitor entirely differently-- to me, Ms. Hesser nicely conveyed the embarrassment accompanying the gaffes and assumptions that well-meaning but realtively affluent people can sometimes make. I enjoyed Ms. Hesser's willingness to discuss how her recipes don't always come out, and thought she did a nice job discussing the ins and outs of relationships, including learning how to compromise, and learning to not be such a snob about one's personal preferences. (See the chapter on artificial sweeteners. . .) And I enjoyed her approach to cooking, since it mirrors my own "freestyle" approach.
The recipes are great, especially the "white" bolognese from the chapter about her visit to Rome. I made this recipe when it first appeared in the NYT for a dinner party, and got raves-- and promptly lost the recipe. Imagine my joy to find it here-- it made the price of the book well worth paying, even without the rest of the good recipes and enjoyable writing.
Now if she would only publish her winter fruit salad with Vanilla Syrup recipe!
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Format: Hardcover
I read Amanda Hesser's COOKING FOR MR. LATTE while recovering from surgery. What a delight! I could hardly wait to get into the kitchen and try her recipes.
The recipes are written in a casual, conversational style, probably much like those family recipes scribbled on the old 3x5 cards you probably still have in your kitchen along with your online digests and fancy cookbooks. Her recipes are like those on the cards, delicious, reliable and homey -- the ones you return to when you want comfort in the kitchen, not a "project". (Try the Meyer Lemon Linguine w/Creme Fraiche, the chocolate 'Dump-It Cake', Oven Fried Chicken, and the Beets, Apples and Ginger with Clementine Vinaigrette.)
Amanda Hesser shares with us her friendly, foodie persona and delivers recipes that transport us into her Grandmother's kitchen on the Eastern Shore of Chesapeake Bay, a friend's place in Boston, and back to her apartment in NYC. Amanda Hesser highlights the joys of sharing good food with good company, even when that company is yourself (e.g. "single girl salmon").
I applaud Amanda Hesser for following her passion and making a career out of her love and interest in food. Rather than seeing her as pretentious, I see her as an inspiration.
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Format: Paperback
I'll be blunt: if you're interested in reading this book independent of the extraordinary recipes that punctuate each brief, anecdotal chapter, you're going to be sorely disappointed. Hesser's recipes indicate a serious talent in the kitchen, but as any sort of writer, she's consistently been sorely lacking. In essence, if what you want to find in this book is anything along the lines of chick lit, romance, humor, or the sensual, nuance-oriented genre "food writing," you're not going to find a satisfactory example of it here. Hesser's anecdotes revolve entirely around her, her glamorous life, her pet peeves and various dislikes and annoyances, and, as she has no gift for capturing the feel of a moment or drawing a character--all of the supporting characters in her book are thinly-etched portraits of her real-life friends and acquaintances--you're going to be sick and tired of her by the end of the book.

If, however, you're after a carefully selected, varied, and compelling collection of recipes that are, all things considered, fairly easily executed, this is your book. I've tried many of the recipes in it, and all have turned out well. Many of her recipes have high butter and/or olive oil requirements, but I've found that they work just as well with half or even a third of the required amounts--basically, anything she wants you to saute, you can do with FAR less grease, and you're better off, taste-and-health-wise, doing so.
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Format: Paperback
This book starts out promising--a love story of mismatched opposites. After the first 2 chapters, however, it turns into the diary of a snobby New York elitist. The amount of detail she would like the readers to care about concerning the most mundane experiences in her life is intolerable. She simultaneously derides American cuisine while saying that her family's "lobster shaped meatloaf" is the best. Her future in-laws seem to be the best cooks on the planet, which seems like pure pandering. Her absolute fascination with "Europe" (by which she means France and Italy) and her frustrations with taking her maladroit family members there is a tired cliche. The fact that she is so embarrassed at their behavior shows her to be spoiled. The recipes are mostly, if not all, culled from other sources. Thankfully, it is a light read, and the impressions it gives will not linger upon you.
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