Book Review by Chris Manganaro
Marriage is a part of life that we may not feel ready for even when it is right in front of us. There are so many things to consider when getting married and we’re not just talking about the wedding itself. We are talking, of course, about the person who we decide to marry. In order to make a good marriage, the ingredients need to mesh well. If they don’t, we are left with a very poor tasting mess which could end in being thrown out in divorce. Nobody likes to waste food and nobody likes divorce.
Michelle Maisto thinks a lot about marriages in her book The Gastronomy of Marriage: A Memoir of Food and Love. Maisto, being a woman with slight man issues, is finally on her way to tying the knot. Of course, this is not something she intends to do without a little argument with herself. Throwing in issues such as religion, work, and food, Maisto finds many faults with her relationship and others while trying to keep it together. The book reads a bit like a stream of consciousness that may or may not work for the reader. It supposedly follows in chronological order, with some chapters named after months, yet it does not really feel as such which may also distract certain readers. It feels like the author tries to follow a recipe, but changes it constantly.
Aside from having marriage on the mind, Maisto also talks about food regularly. Often she talks about dinners of the past and present. Her love of food is easy to see even as she tries to figure out what to make for dinner. Often people struggle with this question on a daily basis and get sick of it. Maisto eventually admits to relishing in it, despite her picky husband-to-be. While she may shine in these moments, her fiancé, Rich, does not. One might see where her doubts come from at times.
There are recipes in this book, but they are mostly simple and do not make this much of a cookbook. Maisto does a wonderful job of incorporating the recipes, by mentioning them and adding anecdotes to them, but they are infrequently placed at the end of chapters and there is no index for them. They feel a little bit like something thrown in to spice up the presentation.
Aside from Rich, Maisto describes many other characters in her life. Some get more attention, like her sisters, while others seem rather brushed over. This can be a bit of a shame considering there are times when the book rambles on about topics that may not necessarily interest the reader, like random historical facts.
Going into this book, marriage is obviously one of the main topics and so we hear quite a bit of talk on it and weddings. Information on weddings is not going to titillate everyone and even those who are enjoying it will likely feel rather put off by the fact that the author’s wedding never actually occurs in the book. It feels like a large oversight like forgetting to put baking powder in a cake. It falls flat.
This book is charming in chunks, but it really does not have a specific audience. Those planning on getting married might be discouraged a little and food lovers might feel it lacks. Even people who like memoirs will find it missing the key ingredients. Perhaps read it if you want to see how the stomach relates to marriage and other interesting incites.
For more on food and recipes get your copy of the Gourmand World Cookbook Award Winning book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions-2nd edition