From Publishers Weekly
Though Bauer's introduction invokes M.F.K. Fisher—in the early 1970s he escorted her for a magazine story on New Orleans restaurants—this collection of 20 essays concentrates more on nostalgia than on the actual pleasures of the table. From such writers as Amy Bloom, Claire Messud, Andre Dubus III, Richard Russo and Peter Mayle, Bauer gathers pieces about meals that were "unforgettable by occasion"—if not savoriness. Sue Miller's contemplative opener touches on the stupendous appetite of her teenage son, memories of her mother's dreadful cooking and the first meal her husband made for her. The reliable Jane and Michael Stern, here writing separately, provide the most humorous essays. In "Stir Gently and Serve," Jane details the first—and only—Thanksgiving she hosted, after which even the bulldog wouldn't eat the leftovers. Michael recalls a "night of a thousand embarrassments" in "My Dinner with Andy Warhol's Friends," when the Sterns took a Swiss art dealer to a fish house in Hoboken, N.J. Steve Almond's gem of a title story serves as one of the more appetizing tales, a funny, wonderfully descriptive account of a sensational homemade pad thai involving fresh Maine lobster. "Words are inadequate," Almond writes, but the reader will be salivating. (Oct.)
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This anthology of some 20 short pieces focuses on each of the contributors' most memorable meals. Amy Bloom recounts her quest for the ultimate lasagna, recoiling in horror from the oxymoronic "dieter's lasagna." Jane Stern, today a great exponent of thoughtful American cookery, recalls with some embarrassment her first postwedding Thanksgiving, a menu loaded with half-baked ideas and overbaked frozen turkey. Dinner in a French inn fashioned out of an old mill means perfection for Claire Messud, but the experience so overwhelmed her that she has forgotten any specific dishes. Not knowing at the time that he would eventually become a leading exponent of French cooking, Peter Mayle accompanies his boss to Paris for a meal that opened new vistas. For Henri Cole, a good dinner companion trumps any food, and he chooses a stellar one: Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney. A very few of these essays have recipes attached. Mark KnoblauchCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved