on May 16th 2017
Genres: Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
Published by Clarkson Potter Publishers
Setting: Minnesota/New York
A beautifully written food memoir chronicling one cook's journey from her rural Midwestern hometown to the intoxicating world of New York City fine dining and back again in search of her culinary roots.
Before Amy Thielen frantically plated rings of truffled potatoes in some of New York City s finest kitchens for chefs David Bouley, Daniel Boulud, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten she grew up in a northern Minnesota town home to the nation s largest French fry factory, the headwaters of the fast food nation, with a mother whose generous cooking pulsed with joy, family drama, and an overabundance of butter.
Inspired by her grandmother s tales of cooking on the family farm, Thielen moves with her artist husband to the rustic, off-the-grid cabin he built in the woods. There, standing at the stove three times a day, she finds the seed of a growing food obsession that leads to the sensory madhouse of New York s top haute cuisine brigades. When she goes home, she comes face to face with her past, and a curious truth: that beneath every foie gras sauce lies a rural foundation of potatoes and onions, and that taste memory is the most important ingredient of all.
I spent a good portion of this memoir wondering why I listen to books like this. It is no secret that I like foodie books but why do I listen to books where the lovingly drawn out descriptions of the food make me think, “Oh my god, that sounds disgusting!”
I’m not sure I found an answer to that. I guess that will be the lot of wanna-be vegans who listen to chef memoirs. You’ve been warned if descriptions of organ meats and loving talk of bloody juices and fond rememberances of torturing live lobsters bother you.
Amy Thielen was an English major before becoming a chef and it shows in this memoir. The writing is of a more literary quality than a lot of memoirs.
This book starts with the story of how she and her husband started to live a seasonal existence. In the summer they were in their off-the-grid cabin in Minnesota with a huge garden and in the winter they lived in New York. This part of the book ends with their decision to move back to Minnesota full time.
The next part of the book goes back in time for a series of essays about events that take place before the first section. You never find out what happened after the move back from New York. I had never heard of the author prior to reading this book so I wasn’t sure what happened besides writing this book. I guess you are either expected to know that or expected to Google.
I was most fascinated by the story of her husband who actually managed to make a good living as a working artist in New York. I thought that was a fairy tale. The story of making a home in the woods was amazing to me.
The author narrates the audiobook which is normally a horrible decision but she did a very good job. She infuses her story with a lot of emotion as she reads.