cover image Give a Girl a Knife

Give a Girl a Knife

Amy Thielen. Clarkson Potter, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-0-307-95490-9

In this enjoyable memoir, James Beard Award–winner Thielen (The New Midwestern Table) takes readers on a culinary journey from the Midwest to New York City and back. For years, she and her artist husband, Aaron Spangler, bounced between the food and art worlds of New York City and their tiny, unplugged home in the woods of Minnesota. Simultaneously sincere and funny, Thielen writes of her path to becoming a chef and understanding her German and French roots. She graduated from Macalester College in 1997 and two years later left her hometown for New York City, where she attended cooking school and landed jobs in the kitchens of restaurants run by Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, among others. She often returned to Minnesota, where she would tap into the culinary traditions of her family: her mother would prepare French classics with a hearty American twist, and Thielen also became intrigued by the cuisine of her German grandmother, who delighted in bacon, butter, and all things fermented, especially pickles. After the birth of her son, Thielen and Spangler decided to leave Brooklyn and move permanently to Minnesota. Thielen’s writing is warm and welcoming, especially as she describes going back home: “You don’t just jump into the same old story. You step back into your shadow, but into a totally new narrative.” (May)