From Library Journal
Mixing personal reminiscences with cultural history, Brans, an award-winning journalist and nonfiction author, takes readers on a culinary tour of American cuisine. Her book is a warm and personal tale of American cookery told from the viewpoint of a typical American. The culinary fare of Brans's itinerary, which chronicles the growing sophistication of the American palate over the last 40 years, ranges from her mother's down-home Southern cooking to Betty Crocker, Julia Child, nouvelle cuisine, and feasts and pigouts in New York City. While not a book of recipes, her book is certainly a culinary aperitif that will whet the appetite of many gourmand readers. For public libraries.- Michael A. Lutes, Univ. of Notre Dame Lib., Ind.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Brans (Take Two, 1989, etc.) turns here to culinary autobiography but lacks the personality or style to make a unique mark. The author proceeds from Mother's good plain cooking (``her meringues rose sky high'') to cooking on her own with Betty Crocker, then with James Beard's Hors d'Oeuvres and Canaps (``Beard taught me that cream cheese goes with everything''), Julia Child (``I cuisined up a storm....Quel fun''), and The Silver Palate pair, about whom she gushes for a long chapter. Brans often strays from eating to characterizing the various stages of her life, such as the time she spent as a happily married ``beatnik,'' but she never gets beyond generalization--and in one sentence she's unaccountably divorced and remarried...and on to more eating adventures. Between accounts of her own experiences are anecdotes of other people, collected through a questionnaire she sent out to acquaintances (``What memorable experiences did you have at the table as a child?''), but they too fail to sparkle in the reading or add up to any point. The author's ostensibly mildly ironic tone throughout seems modeled on that of Jane and Michael Stern, but it hasn't their sly wit or sensibility. From her corny declaration of a childhood love for Wonder Bread (``Our bread of choice was Wonder, and it was Wonderful'') to her closing raptures over lunch at Bouley (number one in Zagat) during last summer's $19.92 special, Brans fails to entertain with any fresh observations on food or foodies or to rise above the generally banal level of the genre. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.