I've mentioned a time or two how much I love reading about cooking and food. I read cookbooks for fun, devour cooking memoirs, articles in magazines by chefs...I love pretty much any food writing I can get my hands on. I spied this book on the new book shelf at the library and eagerly snagged it because, hey, it was a nice, thick, fun-looking book all about food. I started it last night and sped through the rest of it this morning. Overall, I really enjoyed the book.
Leah Eskin is a food writer for a variety of pretty big papers (Chicago Tribune, to name one). She's also appeared in Saveur (one of the world's loveliest food magazines, I am convinced), Elle, Salon, and handful of other big-name magazines and newspapers. She writes about food, but, particularly, cooking for her family. Each article is an essay accompanied by a delicious-looking recipe.
I admit to being just a little underwhelmed by the writing. The writing was, for the most part, good, but Eskin's writing tone and style wasn't my favorite. She repeatedly used a present simple tense in the second person (yes, I did have to look that up), which I didn't love. I think some of that is just my own stylistic taste, but I do think that the writing ended up coming out just a little bit awkward. The tense and style changed with each article, but the majority were written as described above.
But, sometimes Eskin's writing would suddenly blossom, painting a perfect word image, or elegantly describing a scene. For instance, when talking about decluttering for moving, she writes, "Gamely, you straighten up. You square heaps of mail into stacks. You crack apart the forty-eight pieces of Our Solar System and cram the universe into the black hole of the puzzle cupboard." See? Comparing the puzzle cupboard to a black hole? Smart. And funny.
Now, let's talk about the amazing food in this book. I finished this book up this morning and I am convinced that I left several drool marks. Delicious pasta dishes and salted caramel, brisket and pot roast, greens and beans and pistachio ice cream sandwiches, mushroom broth and walnut pesto crostini. Oh dear, now I am so hungry. Leah Eskin is obviously a very good cook, capable of dreaming up some delicious food. In fact, this book made me want to go hunt down her kitchen and follow her around for a day. But it also made me want to work in my own kitchen. Try some of her recipes and maybe even dream up one of my own. And isn't that the ultimate goal of all good food writers? To inspire people to get into their own kitchens and create beautiful, delicious food.
So I would definitely pick up this book if you are a food reader like me. Eskin's recipes all look delicious and her stories about her family are fun to read. I don't think I would ever buy the book, but as a library read? It was definitely worth it.