Recipes, restaurant critiques, and food lore—all agreeably season New York Times food writer Hesser’s beguiling story of her two loves: food and the initially unpromising Mr. Latte.
The author’s early reservations about this handsome guy can best be appreciated by urban sophisticates, who will share Hesser’s chagrin as she finds herself keeping company with a man who ends his meal with a latte and sweetens it with Equal. (Espresso sweetened naturally with cane sugar would be culinarily correct.) Their first date is arranged by a mutual friend, and Hesser is not impressed by the venue, a noisy restaurant that serves beer in bottles. She is rather attracted to Mr. Latte, also known as New Yorker writer Tad Friend, even if he does order a Budweiser; he will simply have to be reformed, she decides, if the relationship is to continue. Their courtship and his culinary education go hand in hand as Hesser charts food experiences ranging from restaurants to dinners with respective friends and families. Each chapter, about food as much as romance, includes recipes. These too play to an urban sensibility, as well as the urban ease in acquiring ingredients not always available in the average supermarket (fennel fronds, sheep’s milk yogurt, salt cod, etc.), but Hesser also tells readers how to make such down-home items as fried-bologna sandwiches, rhubarb pie, and fried chicken. The romance proceeds at a stately pace as the author describes visits on assignment or accompanying family to places like Spain, Italy, and North Dakota (where she hopes to learn how honey is made). Soon Mr. Latte shows signs of improvement—his mother is, after all, an excellent cook—as he talks about food and critiques new restaurants. But though he proposes, he also has some changes in mind, and there are a few bumpy moments ahead before his education and hers are complete.
A yummy treat even for fans of Sanka and Michelob.