Good Food Read
I love to read books about cooking, restaurants, and the food industry in general. I also am a sucker for good personal stories about people's lives, loves, and ardent interests. As a fine combination of the two, Amanda Hesser's Cooking for Mr. Latte easily won me over.
I finished this book far too quickly. I loved it right from the start and wanted it to go on and on. I know people have mixed feelings about Amanda Hesser. She's taken some heat lately in food circles and many have a pretty definite reaction (good or bad) to her and her work. This article provides some interesting insight into Hesser and the perceptions her audience has about her. If you don't know the name, she's been a food reporter and columnist for The New York Times and is also the author of The Cook and The Gardener.
Cooking for Mr. Latte tells the tale of Hesser's courtship with Tad Friend, aka "Mr. Latte," by weaving together stories of the food they shared. The book chronicles bits and pieces of their life from their first date to their wedding, all centered on the meals that marked each event. I love the way Hesser writes. She's easy to read and has a light conversational style, but clearly has a passion for food and knows her stuff. She includes over 100 recipes in the book, punctuating each chapter with the recipes for the meals she mentioned. I was really thrilled to see a recipe for Vanilla Bean Loaves from the Hi-Rise Bread Company in Cambridge, MA in the book. When we lived in Cambridge, this place was just a few blocks away from us. When the Lima Bean was born, they sustained us with their delicious sandwiches for a few days until I could get my wits about me and get back to cooking again. They make amazing bread, sandwiches and all sorts of baked goods. I never sampled their vanilla bean loaves when I lived there, but now I'll get the chance to try the recipe on my own. Can't possibly come out as well as Hi-Rise does it, but it's worth a shot.
Reading this book made me want to take part in Hesser's homemade meals and restaurant outings. It made me wish I always had the perfect assortment of fresh herbs, fine cheeses and Italian cured meats in my fridge. She makes whipping up food for a dinner party seem so effortless. It's one of those "fantasy of food" reads that aspiring cooks can really get into, especially if you like the underlying love story part too.