Archive for the ‘Food Writing’ Category

I don’t remember now where I first heard about A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg.  It was Darlene’s excellent review that made me want to read it, but I think I first heard of it while perusing design blogs, which seems an odd path but there it is.  I was not familiar with Wizenberg’s blog Orangette and, having a generally low opinion of books written by bloggers (which is pure snobbishness on my part rather than a well-informed opinion), I had planned to steer clear of this one.  What a mistake that would have been!

I love to cook almost as much as I love to read – if fact, I can frequently be found doing both at the same time, which makes for a very messy kitchen.  In Molly, I recognize a kindred soul, someone else who recognizes that “food is not food.  It’s also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, and who we want to be” (p. 2).  Though the recipes contained in the book are very good, it’s Molly’s stories, giving the significant of the recipes, that makes me want to try them, perhaps in a need to capture some of the emotion and significance she has imbued them with.  I have an almost desperate need to attempt the French-style yogurt cake with lemon, which played a rather romantic part in bringing Molly and her husband Brandon together.

Molly is terrifically appealing and endearing.  She’s the kind of person you want to read about, to be friends with and to be, all at the same time.  She’s very open about her life, even the most painful and personal parts: I’m not sure I would be brave enough to share, as she does, her thoughts and feelings during her father’s illness and death but it makes for one of the most moving portions of the book and brought me to tears.  Her romance with Brandon kept me smiling, from the first tentative emails to the recipe for their wedding cake (aka The Winning Hearts and Minds Cake).  How not to love a man who provides you with a wonderful Chana Masala recipe?

It certainly didn’t harm my enjoyment to discover that Molly and her family were ardent Francophiles.  At one point, she describes it as her second home, though she remains confused as to where exactly she considers her first home.  I never tire of hearing about anyone’s gastronomic experiences in France and Molly was no exception.  The first time I went to Paris, I was staying in Montparnasse and ended up one night at a rustic Breton crêperie where I was mesmerized first by the production of the crêpes and then by the consumption of them.  I was with friends and they literally spent half an hour standing in the street, fighting over where to go for dinner, while I starred through the window at the chef producing these amazing, flawless crêpes over and over again.  I then marched my friends into the restaurant because this, I needed to taste.

This book fulfilled a voyeuristic need to observe not only the life of someone more interesting than myself (which, admittedly, is a low standard) but also their eating habits.  I was entertained and I was inspired, certainly not an outcome I had anticipated.  Not only do I feel fired to test some of the recipes (the Banana Bread with Chocolate and Candied Ginger will definitely be appearing in my kitchen in the near future), I also want to capture some of Molly’s spirit because she seems, in essence, to be a joyful person.  I take myself, my life and even my cooking far too seriously at times.  Certainly joy is something always to be aspired to?

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