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Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant (original 2007; edition 2007)

by Jenni Ferrari-Adler (Editor)

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4342324,328 (3.67)45
Member:paghababian
Title:Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant
Authors:Jenni Ferrari-Adler
Info:Riverhead Hardcover (2007), Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:non-fiction, cooking, anthology, humor, cookbook, memoir, signed, 2007

Work details

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone by Jenni Ferrari-Adler (Editor) (2007)

  1. 00
    The Art of Eating by M.F.K. Fisher (kayejuniper)
  2. 00
    The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister (fyrefly98)
    fyrefly98: One's fiction and the other's a collection of essays, but they're both easy-to-read food writing that evoked very similar reactions.
  3. 00
    American Food Writing: An Anthology: With Classic Recipes by Molly O'Neill (cransell)
    cransell: Another great anthology of food writing. Much longer, but very enjoyable.
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» See also 45 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
It is certainly true that cooking is therapeutic, creative, and all those other faintly creepy self-helpish words. I would love to tell you that learning to cook was part of my journey toward actualization. I would love to tell Oprah this. I would love to tell Oprah this while weeping. But I learned to cook for a much simpler reason: in the abject hope that people would spend time with me if I put good things in their mouths. It is, in other words (like practically everything else I do), a function of my desperation for emotional connection and acclaim.
Que Será Sarito: An (Almost) Foolproof Plan to Never Ever Eat Alone Again by Steve Almond

I’m going to start this review with a story. Something I (almost) never do.

In the summer of 2011, I moved to London to study pâtisserie out of very strong whim. I call it a whim because what else can you call a sudden desire that sprung forth out of nowhere? I don’t remember being pulled towards the kitchen at any point in my life. Many people said I should go to Paris but since I didn’t really possess a strong grasp of the language (high school french only served me enough to sing french Christmas carols around school), I figured I better go to a city where I had a better chance of communicating.

This would be the first time I lived on my own, something I had been dreaming of since I was in 8th grade. It would be the first time that I would be left to my own devices. That meant I could eat whatever I wanted (CEREAL ALL DAY!), do whatever I wanted (not leave the house for 4 days straight while watching Snog, Marry, Avoid and Extreme Couponing) and nobody would say anything about it.

Let me tell you, nothing compares with leaving your apartment and then coming back to see that everything was exactly where you had left it. Nobody took the book you were reading and set it somewhere else, nobody arranged your organized mess, nobody ate the last moravian cookie in the tin, nobody would judge you for having 2 bottles of wine and 1 water bottle in your fridge as the sole residents.

It was heaven.

Because I was on my feet for 6 hours straight, whisking, folding, kneading, and balancing heavy cookie sheets, I had no desire to cook myself anything when I got home. All I cared about was washing out the black currant stains from my fingers, sitting in front of my TV on the IKEA couch I had assembled all my by lonesome (a feat for me) and stuffing myself with dry Red Berries Special K cereal.

I had no problem repeating the same meal over and over. The familiarity of the taste offered comfort. I was in a strange land. The only other Dominican I knew lived more than 10 tube stops away. Half the time that detail didn’t matter but when it did, I had my old faithfuls ready.

When I got tired of eating dry cereal, I went to the supermarket and bought a bag of 20 baby clementines. That became my go-to snack/meal for a while.

It wasn’t until 5 months had gone by that I decided to make myself something hot. You know, besides the UK version of Chef Boyardee. A sixth re-watch of V for Vendetta gave me an idea.

Eggy in a basket (also known as eggy in a hole). Simple, comforting and so easy to make.The cackling sounds that erupted from the pan when I dropped the egg, the aroma of sizzling brioche bread would flood my tiny kitchen. For the first time, I felt like a grown up. I was taking care of myself. I had other things to consume beside copious amounts of wine.

Reading Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant transported to that tiny kitchen in London. The one with the see-through curtains, the wooden floor that creaked every time I took a step, the same little kingdom of solitude with me as the queen.

Gosh, I think I’m going to cry.

Some of these essays are fun and relatable, like Asparagus Superhero by Phoebe Nobles. I can perfectly see myself eating asparagus seven ways to sunday until they disappeared from the market, no problem; others like Thanks, but No Thanks by Courtney Eldridge are painful and somewhat uncomfortable to read all thanks to the brutal honesty. Some stories include recipes, a few of which I have earmarked for that elusive weekend when I am completely alone at home. Eating alone is a very personal affair and reading about how many of these authors dealt with those lonely times made me feel I had gained access to a club I didn’t know existed. For when you’re eating alone, at least for me, it feels as if there is nothing and no one else outside those four walls. Sometimes, that’s just what I need.

Overall, Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant : Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone is like drinking a glass of very good wine; one must consume it deliberate slowness to really enjoy the notes. ( )
  lapiccolina | Jun 23, 2017 |
Borrowed from Catherine D.

I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of essays about cooking and eating alone. I knew of several of the authors already and enjoyed being introduced to some I hadn't read before. Not a dud in the bunch!

Quotes

We read to feel close to people we don't know, to get into other people's heads. I get the same sensation of intimacy from following a recipe. (Introduction, Jenni Ferrari-Adler)

The fact is, I love to feed other people. I love their pleasure, their comfort, their delight in being cared for. Cooking gives me the means to make other people feel better, which in a very simple equation makes me feel better. ("Dinner for One, Please, James," Ann Patchett)

Eating, after all, is a matter of taste, and taste cannot always be good taste. ("Dinner for One, Please, James," Ann Patchett)

You know, the other day, I was eavesreading on the subway... ("Thanks, But No Thanks," Courtney Eldridge)

Just how persecuted were Jews to still feel the need to punish themselves like this? ("The Legend of the Salsa Rosa," Ben Karlin)

From time to time, a friend will drop by my place unannounced. Given that I am Jewish, I am required by Mosaic law to ask if they would like something to eat, and to ignore any utterances that fall short of I thought you'd never ask! ("Que Sera Sarito," Steve Almond)

But let's be realistic: as a writer, you only have so many hours each day, and most of them will be swallowed by procrastination and the ensuing guilt. Try to remember, also, that your friends (though you are duty bound to feed them) are ungrateful freeloaders. ("Que Sera Sarito," Steve Almond)

It would have been nice to add a little milk...but I had sniffed the milk in my fridge and it was bad, I knew it would be rotten, but I sniffed it anyway. Why? Well, human beings often do things when there is no hope. ("Eggs Over Uneasy," Jonathan Ames)

Even if I was still alone, I felt full. The fullness and emptiness could somehow live side by side. I didn't feel lonely. ("Protective Measures," Jami Attenberg)

...cooking chili for me is not unlike the process of writing fiction, which requires the same openness to inspiration and possibility, as well as the same awareness that the final product may be irrecoverably different from what you'd first imagined. ("Wild Chili," Dan Chaon)

All new immigrants yearn periodically for familiar foods. The fulfillment of that yearning can be a difficult, if not impossible, proposition. ("Instant Noodles," Rattawut Lapcharoensap) ( )
  JennyArch | Feb 23, 2016 |
A collection of essays from various individuals on the experiences of cooking and/or eating alone. I ran across this one in the library catalogue while searching for something else and couldn't pass up a book with such an amazing title. As is true of most collections like this, I preferred some essays over others and a few fell flat. That being said, it was interesting to see which habits of mine also belonged to others and to see the diverse range of reactions to the solo cooking and dining experience. There are also recipes smattered throughout the book, with portions helpfully limited to 1-2. Equally enjoyable reading for the foodie or the singleton who lives on peanut butter. ( )
  MickyFine | Jan 25, 2015 |
Talk, talk, talk. ( )
  picardyrose | Jun 25, 2013 |
Nice top read a few chapters at a time. Don't read while hungry. ( )
  bead-nut | Jun 5, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ferrari-Adler, JenniEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Almond, SteveContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ames, JonathanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Attenberg, JamiContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Calder, LauraContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cantwell, MaryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chaon, DanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Colwin, LaurieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dave, LauraContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eldridge, CourtneyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ephron, NoraContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ergenbright, ErinContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fisher, M. F. K.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Harrison, ColinContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hazan, MarcellaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hesser, AmandaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hughes, HollyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jackson, JeremyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jurjevics, RosaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Karlin, BenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lapcharoensap, RattawutContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lowry, BeverlyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Murakami, HarukiContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nobles, PhoebeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Patchett, AnnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rufus, AnneliContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wolfert, PaulaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
It is the privilege of loneliness; in privacy one may do as one chooses. Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
Dinner alone is one of life's pleasures. Certainly cooking for oneself reveals man at his weirdest. People lie when you ask them what they eat when they are alone. A salad, they tell you. But when you persist, they confess to peanut butter and bacon deep fried and eaten with hot sauce, or spaghetti with butter and grape jam. Laurie Colwin, "Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant," Home Cooking.
Dedication
For Jofie
First words
Call it seven-thirty on a Wednesday night. No one else is home. A slight hunger hums in your body, so you wander into the kitchen.
Quotations
I have friends who begin with pasta, and friends who begin with rice, but whenever I fall in love, I begin with potatoes. Sometimes meat and potatoes and sometimes fish and potatoes, but always potatoes. I have made a lot of mistakes falling in love, and regretted most of them, but never the potatoes that went with them. —Nora Ephron, "Potatoes and Love: Some Reflections"
After the visitors had left, I would stand over the sink and eat whatever was around, whatever I needed in order to go and do the work that I love. Even now it is a picture of heaven to me, an evening spent alone and well fed in the tradition of my own low standards. —Ann Patchett, "Dinner for One, Please, James"
To begin: buy yourself some raw tiger-tail shrimp, medium size, two pounds at least. Why tiger tail? Because they are the coolest to order. —Steve Almond, "Que Sera Sarito"
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
If, sooner or later, we all face the challenge or the pleasure of eating alone, then Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant provides the perfect set of instructions. In this unique collection, twenty-six writers and foodies invite readers into their kitchens to reflect on the secret meals they make for themselves when no one else is looking: the indulgent truffled egg sandwich, the comforting bowl of black beans, the bracing anchovy fillet on buttered toast.
From Italy to New York to Cape Cod to Thailand, from M. F. K. Fisher to Steve Almond to Nora Ephron, the experiences collected in this book are as diverse, moving, hilarious, and uplifting as the meals they describe. Haruki Murakami finds solace in spaghetti. Ephron mends a broken heart with mashed potatoes in bed. Ann Patchett trades the gourmet food she cooks for others for endless snacks involving saltines. Marcella Hazan, responsible for bringing sophisticated Italian cuisine into American homes, craves a simple grilled ham-and-cheese sandwich. Courtney Eldridge, divorced from a fancy chef, reconnects with the salsa she learned to make from her cash-strapped mother. Rosa Jurjevics reflects on the influence of her mother, Laurie Colwin, as she stocks her home with salty snacks. Almost all of the essays include recipes, making this book the perfect companion for a happy, lonely—or just hungry—evening home alone.
Part solace, part celebration, part handbook, Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant offers a wealth of company, inspiration, and humor—and finally, recipes that require no division or subtraction.
"I have friends who begin with pasta, and friends who begin with rice, but whenever I fall in love, I begin with potatoes. Sometimes meat and potatoes and sometimes fish and potatoes, but always potatoes. I have made a lot of mistakes falling in love, and regretted most of them, but never the potatoes that went with them." —Nora Ephron, "Potatoes and Love: Some Reflections"
"After the visitors had left, I would stand over the sink and eat whatever was around, whatever I needed in order to go and do the work that I love. Even now it is a picture of heaven to me, an evening spent alone and well fed in the tradition of my own low standards." —Ann Patchett, "Dinner for One, Please, James"
"To begin: buy yourself some raw tiger-tail shrimp, medium size, two pounds at least. Why tiger tail? Because they are the coolest to order." —Steve Almond, "Que Sera Sarito"
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Presents a collection of essays on cooking and eating for one by twenty-six top writers and foodies, including Ann Patchett, Marcella Hazan, Haruki Murakami, Courtney Eldridge, and Nora Ephron.

(summary from another edition)

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Jenni Ferrari-Adler is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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