In getting adjusted to my new posting schedule, I’ve decided I will begin sharing my book reviews here. I just imported the older book reviews from my academic blog, Feast with Me, and I hope you go check them out when you’re craving a new book to devour.
Today was supposed to be a review of Eat. Pray. Love. However, I will not go into details about how I’ve come to loathe that novel, or how I wasted much of my winter break attempting to finish it. Happily, I did begin and recently finished Mimi Sheraton’s Eating My Words: An Appetite for Life and it was so wonderful I think I can finally put Eat Pray Love out of my mind forever.
This came up as a suggested reading on my Amazon Prime recommendations, and I have to say thank you Amazon! You totally got it right and I loved it.
Mimi Sheraton is “a veteran food critic for the NY Times, Vanity Fair, Food & Wine, and Condé Nast Traveler” and writes with a simplicity that I adore. Though in the acknowledgments she deems herself “a writer who loathes writing”, I cannot truly believe her. Throughout the entire experience of reading her novel, I felt as if I were not reading at all. Instead, it is very much like sitting down to tea or coffee with a good friend, who just happens to be a famous food critic. Her writing is simple, honest, and unapologetic, a writing style suited perfectly for one who must have reviewed over hundreds of restaurants in her lifetime.
I knew I was in for a treat when, during the beginning of the book, Ms. Sheraton shared her view of chefs who do not allow customers to make substitutions:
“As far as I’m concerned, the master can eat it. Whose dinner is it, anyway?”
Though I am one to let the chef “do his/her thing”, I also agree that certain chefs’ heads have become a tad too large for their bodies, and need to remember that in the end, the customer is always right.
I won’t go through and break down the entire synopsis of the novel, but I will tell you that her story is an inspiring one, especially for would-be food writers such as yours truly. Mimi Sheraton overcame obstacles, such as gender inequality, that I will thankfully not have to struggle through, and she writes of these obstacles not as hardships, not as “oh pity me look what I had to deal with” but as a matter of course that one just dealt with in life. Her writing depicts a strong, independent woman, who needs no “pat on the back” from society for all she’s done. She did it for herself, and I find that to be incredibly inspiring.
I was also intrigued by the sheer amount of people she has met, places she has traveled, and food she has eaten. Quite often when reading this novel I have been overwhelmed by long lists of restaurants, meals enjoyed there, and/or ingredients employed in said meals. Towards the end of the novel, Mimi reminisces about one of her favorite restaurants of all time…
“Not having been there is about five years, I can only hope that the giant escargots sizzling in their shells, the unctuous foie gras that is the best I ever have had, the roasted chicken, côte de boef and gigot of lamb with potatoes roasted in duck fat, and the civet of hare that is redolent of medieval history, are all as I remember them.”
The lists in this novel are by far the most drool-inducing ones I’ve ever encountered. As I can share from personal experience, please do not attempt to read this novel while hungry. I’ve fallen into many a daydream about foie gras, only to waken and realize the only thing edible in my apartment was Easy Mac.
I love this novel for many reasons: it made me laugh, it made me smile, it gave me an insider scoop on what it would be like to be a renowned food critic. And above all else, it inspired me. Ms. Sheraton ends the novel with this thought on success:
“There are two ways of measuring success: how far we have come from our beginnings, or how far we could have come. I am more than gratified by how far I have come. It remains to be seen how much further I will go.”
A well-said ending to an elegantly written memoir. I think we all have come quite far in our lives in one way or another, and should look forward to how much more we may achieve. 🙂
I’ll be back tomorrow with another sweet post to get you prepared for Valentine’s Day. Until then,
All Photos And Writing Copyright © 2013 Jessica Gonzalez | On Sugar Mountain