Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life

Kim Severson, Author . Riverhead $25.95 (242p) ISBN 978-1-59448-757-6

In this frank confessional memoir, Severson, food writer for the New York Times since 2004, attributes her culinary confidence to the tutelage of eight maternal figures, from the legendary to the not-so-famous. Moving from Alaska, where she wrote for the Anchorage Daily News , to San Francisco to be a food writer for the Chronicle , Severson quits her destructive habit of excessive drinking, and when she first interviews Marion Cunningham, the beloved California food writer, the two share their similar fears and vulnerabilities. Severson's refrain that “I was a fraud and an alcoholic and I was scared to death I would fail” runs through this narrative like a dirge, while her successive culinary acquaintances reflect her insecurities: Chez Panisse chef Alice Waters represents an admirable, however “ridiculously uncompromising” model of perseverance; Ruth Reichl, her intimidating predecessor at the New York Times , reminds her of the leader of the “popular girls” at school into whose realm she never fit; and Southern food writer Edna Lewis's unconventional living situation with the young gay cook Scott Peacock inspires Severson to recount her own difficult early years of coming out as a lesbian in the face of her family's disapproval and discomfort. Some of the portraits verge on the fawning (e.g., Rachael Ray has a “charisma that is as God-given as a star pitcher's right arm”), but Severson's goal of finding “a connection” to her Italian mother dying of Parkinson's rings brave and sincere. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/29/2010
Release date: 04/01/2010
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 978-1-101-18714-2
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-59448-502-2
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