Best required food reading: Cooking for Mr. Latte

April 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

I am currently finishing Amanda’s Hesser’s book Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lover’s Courtship, With Recipes.  It is magnificent. She writes so perfectly about food, without obnoxious foodie arrogance but with clean descriptive prose. In her New York Time’s column “Food Diary,” which makes up the majority of this book, she writes confessionally about food; her triumphs and failures, both in the kitchen and dining room, are documented with good humour and a cast of varied and interesting characters, such as Vogue’s food writer Jeffrey Steingarten and Amanda’s grandmother Helen.

I honestly can’t recommend it enough, and I hope to attempt several of the recipes soon, including Amanda’s grandmother Helen’s Macaroni and Cheese with Italian plum tomatoes and roasted country ham. Amanda’s relationship with her now-husband, a.k.a. Mr Latte, is documented from first date to marriage and provides a somewhat unnecessary structure for the book. Mr. Latte comes across as totally bland and uninteresting and their romance is predictable and boring, but that’s not why I’m reading. I’m reading for the slow, passionate food worship that Amanda unleashes, from anticipation through to preparation to consumption, concluding with accessible recipes.

Amanda visits her grandmother, meets Mr. Latte’s parents, travels to Italy and entertains foreign guests, all while making food, eating food, talking about food. In one chapter she admits to her irrational fear of flying, and her consequent attempts to make what might be her last meal important, packing roasted and salted almonds, prosciutto and butter sandwiches, and asparagus and goat curd salad with blood orange vinaigrette. Because that is a totally normal packed lunch for travel.

While the literary emotional bonds with Mr. Latte might be tenuous, Amanda’s emotional attachment to food is contagious and almost delirious. Cooking for Mr Latte reads like a literary appetizer; make sure you’re not too far from something somewhat indulgent as you devour the pages.

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