Blue Plate Special by Kate Christensen(5 out of 5)
I haven’t read anything by Kate Christensen before this. This may change that. Then again, I’ve been on a nonfiction reading tear lately and this is about the 5th book in a month that I actually sat down and read in record time and gave the full five-star monty to.
If you’ve read Ruth Reichl’s Comfort Me With Apples(thank you, Crown Books and Stacey McKinney, for introducing me to that book) and still had it shaking around your head years later, then you’ll have that same deja vu here. When I go through several chapters, I thought “I’ve been down this road before. It was in a bookstore far, far, far away in my bookselling career, but I’ve read a book similiar to this before.” I like books that have a slant on cooking before, but this one- wow.
Kate Christensen did not have a normal upbringing by any means- her father emotionally and physically abused her mom in front of her, thinking nothing of it. Somehow she gets through that and gets into college, where the writing seduces her and brings her to what ultimately ends up making her incredibly happy. What else makes her happy? Food, from preparation to consumption and all parts in between and behind. In every chapter of hi this irresistible memoir, you are treated to a glimpse of the role that food and drink has played in Christensen’s life- from her turbulent childhood to her teen and young adulthood discoveries to her fulfilled and extremely happy life nowadays- no stone is left unturned in her love affair with culinary delights. Once upon a time, I fancied myself a cook. Of course, those happy, carefree days are no longer there for me to spend crafting a stuffing that weighs 8 lbs and has 550 calories per serving(THAT stuffing of infamous acclaim from two years ago), or the spicy shrimp divolo that I used to make for Nancy and Matt. Life is too crazy and time just keeps on ticking. Something had to be the sacrifice, and since I’m still writing, it must be that side of me that loved crafting culinary surprises. Not to mention I really do love to burn the taste of out anything that I do actually cook these days, so that does tend to alienate my formally ardent fan club. This doesn’t mean that I don’t love anything having to do with cooking, whether it’s reading books like this one, watching Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares(come on, admit you’re a fan- he’s a freaking genius, and hey- he’s right almost all of the time), or sitting in front of the TV watching PBS on Saturday afternoons. I still enjoy a great tale connecting human stories with food, and this book seriously kicks ass. I love the hell out of it.
First I thought Musto would love this book. Then I thought Laura would love it. I will be putting it up in July at the store when it comes out officially, but oh boy, I can’t wait to pass it onto my friends who I think will love it. I think you will love it as well.