Review: The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage: true tales of food, family and how we learn to eat; Caroline M. Grant & Lisa C. Harper

“This is what food means in our families. What does it mean in yours?” 4.5 Stars

Source- Kindle review copy

Roost Books- expected publication date March 2013

(Paperback version is 256 pages)

I am a person who loves food- every aspect of it. Choosing a recipe, the sometimes laborious preparation and of course best of all, the eating! Whilst it is a given that within my family, like most other families, we have our own special recipes and food ‘traditions,’ I must confess that I’ve never really considered before just how important food can actually be to different people across the globe; what a meal or recipe may symbolise for them and the meaning that certain dishes or recipes can have within different cultures.

For me, this collection of food essays was truly an eye-opening book, and if you will excuse the horrible pun, I devoured every fascinating word of it. I was initially a bit concerned that it might be a bit ‘over my head’ in parts, given that it seems to be aimed towards the American market and uses purely American collaborators, as well as it being adapted from an American blog that I haven’t actually read before (I will now!), but I needn’t have worried one iota.  At times funny, sometimes poignant but always thought-provoking, each of these hunger-inducing essays has one thing in common: they provide an enlightening insight into other cultures, families and traditions via the medium of food and they also go to prove that food isn’t just about what we eat- it can mean so much more than that.

Each of the 29 essays was very well structured and revolved around different themes. Some for example, concentrate on the heritage and traditions of food and memories evoked by family recipes, or what a particular dish symbolises. Others look at the foods themselves, such as the ethics of being a meat-eater or the foods that we encourage our children to explore and as to the pitfalls of trying to get them to try certain dishes. I was really fascinated by the insights into Jewish culture and also a chapter that looked at literature in conjunction with food. There was a nod to ‘The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe’ and how when the authors own children tried Turkish Delight a’ la Edward Pevensie, they found themselves disappointed by it, which is reminiscent of my own experiences as a child!

The beauty in this book is that there is bound to be at least one essay that resonates with the reader and the descriptions of food are truly unctuous, so I would caution you not to read it if you are remotely hungry! The recipes at the end of each essay were also an inspired touch; I will certainly be recreating some of them in my own kitchen.

I would recommend this delightful collection of stories to readers interested in gastronomy essays as well as those who enjoy candidly written memoirs.

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