Review by Barb & Ron Kroll
Eating - A Memoir
(Alfred A. Knopf) ISBN 978-1400042968 1400042968/p>
In his combined cookbook and culinary memoir, Jason Epstein provides favorite recipes for family dinners, company meals, memorable restaurant dishes and ethnic cuisine from Iceland, Oman and New York City's Chinatown.
Written in a conversational tone, Eating is a personal account of home cooking and reproducing restaurant recipes. You get to know Jason Epstein, some of his friends, published authors, and his family—even his grandmother, Ida, as she baked pies. So descriptive are Jason Epstein's food stories and delicious recipes, that you can almost smell the frying garlic and roasting cinnamon.
The simple recipes are printed in brown type, so they stand out from the culinary stories. Quantities of ingredients and cooking times are approximate.
For each recipe in Eating, Jason Epstein adds information on ingredients and how to cook them. In his homemade potato chips recipe, for example, he recommends slicing russet potatoes thinly, with a mandoline, and soaking them in cold water to remove the starch, so the slices don't stick together. He dries the potato slices completely, in a salad spinner, so they cook quickly in a deep-fryer, or fry pot with a wire basket.
Sidebars, in gray backgrounds, provide additional information. In one, Jason Epstein recommends buying frozen puff pastry, made with butter (such as the Dufour brand), rather than vegetable shortening, if you don't make your own.
In another sidebar, he suggests using strattu (extract), a fragrant tomato concentrate to enhance Bolognese sauce. Jason Epstein buys strattu at Di Palo, in New York City.
Eating has no photos or illustrations.
In Eating, Jason Epstein gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the book publishing business, where deals are usually made in restaurants. Epstein introduces you to chefs, such as Patrick O'Connell, and includes his lobster omelette recipe from The Inn at Little Washington Cookbook, a best-seller.
He also provides the recipe for shad roe with sorrel sauce from Lutece, in New York City. Jason Epstein enjoyed the dish with Jackie Onassis, who invited him to Lutece to ask if she could become an editor at Random House.
Examples of favorite recipes
Chicken pot pie. Potato cake. Fried scallops and fried calamari. Braised duck with olives. Robuchon's lobster in Sauternes. Icelandic lamb. Pureed parsnips. Rao's chicken scarpariello. Salmon with fermented beans. Chicken under a brick.
Contents of Eating - A Memoir
- One - Cooking as Storytelling
- Two - The Persistence of Memory
- Three - Summer School
- Four - Lunch in a World Turned Upside Down
- Five - A Backward Glance
- Six - The Owl and the Pussycat go to Sea in a Beautiful French Line Boat
- Seven - Ave Homarus Americanus
- Eight - Why They are called Chopsticks
- Nine - Publishing Books with Knife and Fork
- Pinocchio at "21"
- Jackie O at Lutece
- Adventures with Alice and Other Great Cooks
- Two Country Inns
- Ten - Last Resorts
- Eleven - Why We Eat
Eating - A Memoir author
A former editorial director at Random House, Jason Epstein has edited and published many books, including cookbooks by famous chefs.