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Check It Out: Taste others' lives with kitchen memoirs

June 07, 2012|By Andrea Jason

Cookbook writing is in its heyday and writing about food and cooking and families has never been more popular. Books such as "Julia and Julia: 365 Days, 534 Recipes and 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen" have even been made into mainstream movies. Cooking and food blogs abound on the Internet and some bloggers such as Ree Drummond, "The Pioneer Woman," have created blogs which have become so popular that best selling cookbooks have been published as a result. The Newport Beach Public Library has those and many others to savor and enjoy.

Gabrielle Hamilton's "Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef" chronicles her dysfunctional childhood and unconventional life. Written in a lyrical literary style, this book tells of her early years in Pennsylvania with a mother who was a former ballerina and a father who was a theater designer. Their divorce created havoc in her early life. Her teen years were rebellious, her youth underachieving, her marriage short-lived but her will to be successful led her to become the owner of a successful Manhattan restaurant, Prune.

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Unlike Hamilton, Grant Achatz had a more conventional childhood. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, and worked for both Charlie Trotter and Thomas Keller. In "Life, on the Line : A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat," the author, along with his business partner Nick Kokonas, describe the genesis of their Chicago restaurant, Alinea. The authors alternate narratives which talk about the business side of their restaurant life as well as Achatz's life-threatening battle with stage-four tongue cancer.

Beth M. Howard was seven hours away from her husband signing their divorce papers when she found out he had died of a ruptured aorta. That news brought grief and anger, and she decided to take her husband's RV on a driving tour throughout the country to assuage her feelings. As a well-known pie maker, she decided she would shoot a documentary and bake to work her way back to inner peace. "Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie" is her ode.

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