Books by Betty Fussell

EAT LIVE LOVE DIE by Betty Fussell
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Nov. 15, 2016

"A dazzling showcase for Fussell's delicious ability to 'taste...words with the kind of pleasure that turns cooking fires into the fires of love.'"
The idiosyncratic food writer harvests some of her best work in a savory collection that doubles as a memoir and declaration of faith. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Oct. 1, 2008

"An engaging, eclectic examination of the role of beef in the formation of American myth and reality."
Food writer, historian and "full red-blooded carnivore" Fussell (Masters of American Cookery, 2006, etc.) finds beef, specifically steak, to be the most American of foods. Read full book review >
MY KITCHEN WARS by Betty Fussell
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Oct. 20, 1999

A memoir by a woman who measures out her life in kitchen utensils, from her father's orange-juice squeezer to an olive wood spoon used to stir "the stockpot of memories" simmered here. Fussell (The Story of Corn, 1992, etc.) begins with a tour of her kitchen, noting the odd implements in what the French call "the batterie de cuisine," including crushers, beaters, scrapers and grinders. "Cooking is a brutal business," she comments, moving on to describe a childhood, if not brutal, at least marked by tragedy and hardship. When she was two, her mother died from ingesting rat poison ("the mouth is the . . . portal to the Other Side," notes Fussell much later). Moved from the care of loving grandparents into a new home with her father and stepmother, she spent most of the next decade sobbing, until she left for college. There she met and fell in love with then would-be writer Paul Fussell. Characterizing the beginning of her marriage as the "Invasion of the Waring Blenders" (they received two for wedding presents), she discovered sex and lobsters on her honeymoon and chafed at the restraints of being a post-WWII housewife while her husband studied for his Ph.D. Her own postgraduate studies were interrupted frequently as she followed her now professor-husband from university to university, bearing two children and finally settling in Princeton, N.J. There she and other faculty wives were caught in a culture of drinking, sensuous flirtations, and menus with French accents. Her affair with food lasted far longer than her affair with one of her husband's colleagues. Unable to find a job teaching, she began to write about food, at first in newspapers and then in books. Her marriage ended when she confronted her husband in bed with another man, described in a chapter titled "Cold Cleavers." Carefully and skillfully written, but curiously unfulfilling, like a rich cassoulet without seasoning. (Author tour) Read full book review >
THE STORY OF CORN by Betty Fussell
NONFICTION
Released: July 15, 1992

Fussell (Food in Good Season, 1988, etc.) has steeped herself in corn lore and emerged with this encyclopedic entry on that sustaining American grain in myth, ritual, history, science and technology, breeding and cultivation, industry, processing, and cookery (not recipes, just a survey)—with a chapter on corn whiskey thrown in and an interweaving of personal root-claiming by way of a Nebraska grandfather. Fussell has clearly done a good deal of research and a lot of traveling—peering over a precipice at Machu Picchu, descending into a restored ceremonial kiva of the Anasazi people in New Mexico, visiting the sole surviving corn palace from the Midwest boosters' glory days of a century ago—but her prose fails to vivify the scenes she's visited, and, without any argument or added insights, her research reports have a secondhand, summarizing quality. Still, the labor and immersion are evident, and libraries should find uses for Fussell's odd compilation. (Photographs- -150—and line drawings—100—not seen.) Read full book review >