BaltimOregon to Maine

Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Summer Reading: Food (and Cycling) is Hot

with 3 comments


Elegant book review illustrations by Chris Silas Neal

It’s a rare delight to feel the theme of a magazine’s issue or newspaper section was selected with you just in mind. That’s how the New York Times Book Review made me feel today. I wanted to read everything all at once: the sections on cookbooks, foodoirs, gardening, a David Byrne-penned review of an Oregonian reporter’s book on the Pedaling Revolution, the backpage essay on the previously unpublished culinary tidbits from the Federal Writers’ Project, or the “Food Bloggers of 1940.” What would I give to be a part of such an endeavor, that attracted the likes of everyone from Zora Neale Hurston to Eudora Welty, among a mass of mostly unestablished writers, “lots of chaff.” If only President Obama would resurrect the writer’s project for our own trying times.

The “Heartburn” review of three food memoirs-with-recipes reminded this food blogger to cling to her journalistic chops, to guard against cloying sentimentalism in her tales of food. I’m most eager to read Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life, as I follow her Orangette blog and Bon Appetit columns. But Wizenberg’s whimsical tone and fairy tale days do seem out of touch at times.

She goes to Paris for a few weeks, then returns to her apartment in Seattle and does . . . what? It isn’t clear how she spends her days beyond making sentimental meatballs or French-style yogurt cake with lemon and writing about them in her fine-tuned, flowery prose…

While she’s mastered the short-­attention-span form, Wizenberg can be wincingly twee, writing in a confidential style that flips into blog mode and addresses the reader directly: “I learned that kissing a man while leaning against a warm dishwasher is a lovely, lovely experience. (Go ahead! Try it! I’ll wait.)” Compared with many other bloggers, though, she’s Alice Munro. Besides, you’re not looking for literature in the cookbook section, are you?

Goodies abounded in the Cookbooks section. I’m most excited to sink into Rustic Fruit Desserts: Crumbles, Buckles, Cobblers, Pandowdies, and More, co-authored by Oregon’s own Cory Schreiber, founding chef of Portland’s Wildwood restaurant who now works with the Oregon Department of Agriculture to get more local produce into public schools. We have to have him on the radio show!

Written by baltimoregon

June 1, 2009 at 1:16 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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3 Responses

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  1. Wow — I’m surprised someone “official” finally called young food bloggers on their sentimental, starry-eyed writing style. This particular baked goods/food memoir style is so popular (Wizenberg isn’t nearly the worst of the bunch), and I’ve been wondering who finds the tales so compelling. Older women trying to relive a fantasy youth? Young women envious of what seems like a fun life of adventure and being married? I’ll stick with the bitter, over-educated, middle-aged women mired in poverty food blogs, thanks. 😉


    June 1, 2009 at 8:42 am

  2. I do like Wizenberg’s recipes but her tone is cloying and the story about her meeting her husband is really Hollywood. She really doesn’t find time to blog very regularly at all, either. And now she’s taking a hiatus from the blog.


    June 1, 2009 at 9:08 am

  3. I’m with Eugenia about taking bitter, over-educated middle-aged women over the younger ones but maybe that’s because I’m a member of the former! Judy 🙂


    June 7, 2009 at 6:55 pm

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