I’ve got a soft spot for cookbooks. Some are useful, and some are less practical, but fun to read anyway. Fans of Antoni’s television programs can hardly go wrong with Let’s Do Dinner, but his work is new to me. My thanks go to Net Galley and Mariner Books for the review copy. This book is for sale now.
The promotional blurb for this cookbook tells us that some of these recipes will be decadent, whereas others are designed for weekday dining. Apart from a couple of nice egg dishes (omelet, scramble,) I don’t see anything here that I would make. Some involve great loads of dishes, and others involve unusual flavor combinations, and I am a coward. That being said, I am plainly not his target audience. I suspect that his cooking tips are geared toward the young and childless; I, on the other hand, am a Grammy. For me, this cookbook is more of a three star read—the sort of thing I’d browse through, but wouldn’t spend money on. However, for twenty-and-thirty-somethings, I suspect the appeal will be greater, perhaps a four star read, and for his loyal fans, five stars.
I recommend this cookbook to Antoni’s fans, and to the young and adventurous cook that wants to try new things.
Author Anna Quindlen is queen of all things warm and wise,
and so it’s not surprising that her ode to grandmothering hits just the right note. I was lucky and read it free and early,
thanks to Random House and Net Galley, but it would have been worth the
purchase price had it come down to it. This friendly little book is available
to the public now.
Quindlen’s memoir can double as a primer for her peers that
are new grandparents also, but that’s not where its greatest strength is found.
The most resonant aspect is that common chord, the eloquence with which she
gives voice to our common experience. It makes me feel as if she and I are
sitting together with our baby pictures—the grandbabies and our children that
created them—and as she speaks, I am saying, “I know, right?” I chuckle as she
recounts trends in the advice given by experts to new parents: when our first babies were born, we were told
to put them to bed on their stomachs so they wouldn’t spit up and choke to
death on it; then later children slept on their sides, which seems like a safe
bet either way, but babies don’t stay on their sides very long; and now babies
are supposed to be safer on their backs. And she voices so well the pride we
feel when an adult that we have parented turns into a wonderful parent in his
own right. And I nod in agreement as she says of her toddler grandson, “No one
else has sounded that happy to see me in many, many years.”
Quindlen speaks well to the ambivalent moments as well, to
the need to hold our tongues when we want to offer advice that hasn’t been
requested; at the same time, there’s the relief that comes of not being in
charge of all the big decisions. And I
echo the outrage that she feels when some ignorant asshole suggests that our
biracial grandchild is not part of our blood and bones. (A jerk in Baby Gap
wants to know where she got him; she replies that she found him at Whole
Unequivocally joyful is the legacy grandchildren present. “I am building a memory out of spare parts…someday that memory will be all that’s left of me.”
And then, there are the books:
“’In the great green room…’
“’Mouse,’ Arthur says.
“’There is a mouse,’ I say…falling down the well of memory
as I speak, other children, other chairs.”
Go ahead. Read it with dry eyes. I dare you.
Quindlen is writing for her peers. If you aren’t a
grandparent and don’t expect to become one anytime soon (or perhaps at all,)
then this memoir will probably not be a magical experience for you. But the
title and book jacket make it clear exactly where she is going, and I am
delighted to go with her.
Highly recommended to grandparents, and to those on the
Helen Ellis makes me laugh out loud. If you can use some of
that, you may want to read this book. Thanks go to Doubleday and Net Galley for
the review copy.
Southern Lady Code is a title that carries a code of its own. Some people use the word “lady” to describe
European royalty; some to describe a courteous woman, which is what I
anticipated here; and some use it to describe a well-mannered woman with a very
comfortable income, which appears to be the author’s operating definition. In
terms of the “code,” I thought I’d be reading straight satire, but discovered
that she has provided a combination of self-help tips and searing, sometimes
raucous humor. It works surprisingly well.
I have never made a cheese log before or wanted one, but
Ellis’s recipe sounds so persuasively delicious that I may try it. That said,
my favorite essays were short on advice and long on humor. I nearly hurt myself
laughing over the construction man she found masturbating in her bedroom—did I
mention that she gets a little edgy here?
And “The Ghost Experience” is massively entertaining. There’s a lot of good material here. Though at times her outlook is a little more
conservative than my own, I like the things she says in support of gay and
Ultimately, I suspect that I am not the target audience for
Ellis, who in her middle-aged years is dispensing life skills wrapped in
bountiful amounts of humorous anecdotes. She is writing to her peers and to
those women younger than herself. I am
ten or twenty years older than this woman, but I still came away impressed. So,
ladies and women, if you can look past the assumption of a greater-than-average
income, you’ll have a good time here, and if you can’t, try to get this
collection at the library and read selectively, because more of these essays will
resonate than not, for all of us.
I rate this book four giggles, and it will be available to
the public tomorrow, April 16, 2019.