An Onion in My Pocket: My Life with Vegetables

Deborah Madison. Knopf, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-525-65601-2
From the austere training ground of a Buddhist kitchen to her legacy as founding chef of San Francisco’s renowned Greens Restaurant, Madison (Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone) relates how she became a doyenne of vegetarian cooking. Her mother, who “cooked and ate from a sense of scarcity,” made her anxious about food, and, at 16, an extended stay with family friends introduced Madison to “cheese souffles, chicken poached in wine... all so delicious... all new to me.” Captivated by Japanese culture, she later joined the San Francisco Zen Center (SFZC), where meditation and simple meals taught her how the goodness of plain food “resided in my mouth and my attention.” At the center, she developed a “tenderness for both food and people,” eventually becoming the head cook; in 1977 she was invited to work at iconic Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse. Two years later, Madison left to open the SFZC-owned Greens Restaurant “next to the marina... in view of the Golden Gate Bridge.” An omnivore, she “didn’t like the vegetarian label,” believing that naming “the way I eat... can become divisive.” Chapters covering the “twenty missing years”—after she left the SFZC, Greens, and her monastic Buddhist life—build on the tension between abstinence and abundance, hunger and satiation, and anticipation and enjoyment of food and life. Madison’s richly told story will resonate with foodies of all stripes. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 02/20/2020
Release date: 11/10/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-0-525-65602-9
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-525-56564-2
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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