cover image How I Gave My Heart to the Restaurant Business

How I Gave My Heart to the Restaurant Business

Karen Hubert Allison. Ecco Press, $23 (211pp) ISBN 978-0-88001-522-6

When Slav the astrologer pronounces her ""born to eat, born to cook,"" and an occasionally alcoholic neighbor claims to see God in her kitchen, Kitterina Kittridge--Kitchie, to her friends--decides to leave off all efforts to pursue the parentally chosen vocation of artist, choosing instead to toil in the restaurant trenches. Her goal: to cook in a modest establishment of her own one day. While climbing the professional foodie ladder, however, she meets and falls for Gunnar Gunnarson, whose own dreams for Kitchie's future involve a franchise. Allison's debut attempt to join the swelling ranks of too-cute books involving women and food is as substantial as a fallen souffle. The narrative is awkward (""Our conversation was harsh compared to the language of love that was our dinner""); the homespun aphorisms are downright false (""No lock on the front door. It swung wide open like a democracy, letting anyone in""). Gunnar's overdone Russian-Finnish accent is both improbable and annoying, clanging in the reader's ear like an aural equivalent of a false mustache. And the stop-and-go pace, with long, amateurish passages detailing the life history of minor characters, provides more filler than genuine storytelling. (Apr.)