I am both blessed and cursed by an intimidatingly large and growing cookbook collection. When the books arrive at my doorstep in padded envelopes (due to my “real” job as a books editor I am sent many of them to review or just because) I greet them with various emotions: Yeah, another book on how to make jam that I’ll never use, add it to the pile! Wait the pile is looking wobbly–start a new one in the living room and it can double as an ottoman! Has anyone seen the dog? Did he get crushed by a falling column of cookbooks on the topics of Malaysian cuisine, grass-raised beef, and the raw-food philosophies of Alicia Silverstone?!
Needless to say, there are some books that I browse and then quickly add to the ottoman, and then there are others that I get so excited about, they gain a piece of precious real estate on my bedside table. The latest in this category is from my friend and fellow blogger Jenny Rosenstrach, who has come out with a new book which is part cookbook, part memoir, part guru’s guide to everyday mealtime survival: DINNER A LOVE STORY. Although I know many of the book’s stories and recipes from following Jenny’s blog of the same name, I still find myself dipping in and out of her life in pages, opening it to a random section, treating it like an heirloom scrapbook unearthed from the attic and left behind by a sage lady relative with a sparkly sense of humor.
Case in point, the he-said, she-said epistolary pieces written by Jenny and her husband Andy on topics like “Dessert versus Alcohol: The Blame Game”. Or an essay on her second, pickier daughter, Abby, which had me nodding and thinking, “oh yes, I recognize this child.”
There are also recipes that will thrill any type of eater, of any age, like her chick peas french fries or buttermilk oven-fried chicken or pork shoulder ragu…
What I think I like most of all though, is that this is a book about family and food that isn’t completely sappy. I don’t think the words “ooey” or “gooey” are used in a single recipe title. Children aren’t referred to as “your little one” and spouses aren’t “dear husbands”. This may seem like a small detail but when I find a warm, frank voice that is also REAL, I grasp it like the last lime in the bowl for my gin and tonic. For you, out there, who are looking to be amused, while also hoping to crack the dinnertime code, you kind of need this book in your life.