Uneven but intimate look at the intersection of fatherhood and cooking.
Men’s Journal contributing editor Duane (A Mouth Like Yours, 2005, etc.) chronicles his newfound fixation on providing for his budding family through cooking. Early on the author relates how, after his daughter was born, he wanted to contribute to the household in a meaningful way. He deduced that the most valuable contribution he could make was “seeing to it that [his] little family ha[d] a delicious, wholesome meal on the table, every single night, forever and ever.” Building on this simple declaration, Duane turned it into an eight-year experiment. As he cooked and learned more about nearly every aspect of the cooking process, his family grew and experienced setbacks and tragedies. Some of Duane’s memoir is self-indulgent; he was obviously searching for something—approval, the meaning of fatherhood, a sense of purpose and self—through his cooking. Though he and his wife had financial issues, Duane insisted on making extravagant, uncompromising meals that no one really wanted to eat. However, the author’s prose is mostly smooth and occasionally beautiful; despite unnecessarily long sentences in certain sections, he effectively immerses readers in his thoughts and feelings. Duane produces a mostly coherent narrative thread, but he does meander into adventures in eating rather than cooking. This tendency may frustrate some readers but should appeal to die-hard foodies looking for their next read.
A flawed memoir, but one that would make a good gift for a father-to-be searching for a sense of self in the midst of life-changing events.