The Gastronomy of Marriage

Full Title: The Gastronomy of Marriage: A Memoir of Food and LoveThe Gastronomy of Marriage by Michelle Maisto
Author: Michelle Maisto
Publisher: Random House (2009)
Number of Pages: 234
How long it took me to read: 3 weeks, 5 days
Where I bought it: Local Barnes & Noble
ISBN: 978-0-8129-7919-0

Like a Moth to a Flame

I think it was the zucchinis that first caught my eye – blushing oh so brightly as they cuddle up to each other. The word ‘memoir’ inspired me to read the back cover.  Then there were the factors that encouraged me to pull some pennies out of my pockets: it’s about marriage, it’s about food, and it’s based in New York. Translation: I’ll get to relate to someone about married life, maybe pick up a few cooking tips, and live vicariously through the characters’ urban adventures (yes, I feel sorry for myself for living in the burbs).

Favorite Five

My favorite 5 quotes from this book are:

5. “Normally, I think I’m a pretty good person. But when I’m with her, I feel like the world’s biggest sinner.” (p.148)

4. “You become one parent and marry the other.” (pp.114 & 166)

3. “As tempting as it is to spend a Saturday relaxing in the park, or grilling on the roof with friends, not answering the creative urge leaves a person feeling hollow. When Rich’s sweet temperament turns cranky, I know it’s been too many days since he last opened the Word file for his novel in progress.” (p.167)

2. “What is to give light must endure burning.” ~Viktor Frankl (p.168)

…and my pick for the No.1 quote is…

1. “…the universe…sets out little signposts for us along the way, to confirm that we’re on the right path.” (p.XV)

Conversation with the Reader

While I read, I write, and as I write, I read. Here’s some of what I wrote while I read this book:

“I picked up this book in the travel memoir section of the bookstore. Reading ‘a closet writer with a fierce love of good books and good food’ really tickled my turnip. I had to know more! I hope I’ll relate to the main character. Perhaps I’ll feel less miserable about myself if I get to know someone else who’s hiding her writer’s identity from the world. I’m hoping her fierce love of good books will encourage me to keep exploring the reader in me. I’m also hoping her love of good food will help me get out of my revolving recipe rut.

“But, and this is a big ‘but’, I’ve learned through the years that the definition of ‘good food’ can vary dramatically from one person to the next. For some, good food is haute cuisine served on exaggeratedly large plates with presentation ranking high in the overall experience. Then there are those who value home-cooked fare, always choosing the rustic strew with crunchy bread and shavings of aged cheese over a plate of raw fish. I’m of the raw fish kind. Needless to say, I look forward to reading how Maisto’s characters define ‘good food’ although the promise of Italian/Chinese culinary bliss makes me doubtful. We shall see.”

“Even though I’m only in the middle of the introduction, a section of the book that doesn’t even warrant real page numbers (although I’m sure Roman numerals are still as real as it gets as far as the Romans are concerned), I can already tell that I like this author’s writing style. The way Maisto weaves images within sentiments wrapped up in stories too complicated for words reminds me of myself. That’s a good sign, isn’t it?”

“What I enjoy reading most are Maisto’s descriptions of how she prepares dinners each night. Sometimes, she starts by discussing the events that lead up to the dinner. At other times, she talks about how a particular ingredient had the power to invoke a childhood memory. For some reason, I find myself thinking about tripe right now…”

“I’m on the verge of rating this book a 2/5. Then Maisto starts talking about how she’s the one who always cooks, always picks the recipes from the cookbooks sprawled all over the living-room floor, how she’s always the one making the grocery lists and marking recipe pages with post-its. Suddenly, I’m relating to the voice of the book. Although I’m not necessarily connecting with the topics that invite the light-hearted version of me to pop up for a visit, I can’t help but fall in love with the book when it speaks so true to my everyday.”

“I read this book and wonder why I’m not getting on with writing my book. I know I can do it.

Then why aren’t you? Those who can have no choice but to.

If there is only one choice, then why is it the one most difficult to make?

As is the life of a writer.

“Out of all the recipes Maisto shared, there’s one I’m planning to scan, add to my recipe scrapbook and try out one day – her stuffed cream puffs.”

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