Monday, May 10, 2010

Book Review: Talking with My Mouth Full

 In Talking with My Mouth Full, Bonny Wolf, food commentator for NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday,  writes about regional and family food traditions.  She includes stories about birthday cakes and dinner parties, Jell-O and meatloaf, crabcakes and Bundt cakes. Each chapter has recipes used by the author and her family and friends.

Her stories are not just about what people eat, but why they eat: for comfort and companionship; to nurture; to mark the seasons and to celebrate important events; and to connect with family and friends and with ancestors.

While she doesn’t really break any new ground, her light-hearted essays make her kitchen experiences come alive for the reader. You feel her enthusiasm for kugel, wild rice, popovers, and pickled antipasto. She is well-traveled, but isn’t a food snob and still appreciates simple, traditional, regional cuisine.  I particularly enjoyed her descriptions of Mid-Atlantic traditions and the public markets in Washington, DC and Baltimore, Maryland.  I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to experience them first-hand.  The only essay in which I felt a bit of defensiveness toward was the chapter on Texas cuisine, but it didn’t lessen my overall enjoyment of the book.

Wolf provides some helpful instructional pieces, as well, on how to recover from dinner parties gone astray and how to roast chicken.  It was easy to relate to these common issues, and she makes them seem very manageable.

I recommend you check out the book.  I think you will find both her writing and recipes refreshingly accessible.

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