An account of the friendship between Austin reporter Sweets and noted columnist Molly Ivins, complete with recipes they cooked together.
The narrative calls to mind a hot evening sitting on a front porch, shooting the breeze and drinking beer with friends. Stories are swapped, not in any particular order, but rather as the spirit moves the assembled party. And Sweets has assembled quite a party: Friends, colleagues, family members and admirers of the late Ivins share tales of her famously sharp political wit, her dedication to her beliefs and her culinary mishaps and triumphs. The author reminds us frequently that though Ivins was a private woman, she connected to others through food. Readers who loved her prose can now also love her Four Seasons Fancy Chocolate Cake and her Ouefs Brouille. Though several of the recipes are extremely time-consuming, there are also less-complicated versions of famously complicated dishes (see “Cassoulet, Sorta”). To replicate the front-porch feeling, it might be best to scan the recipes and then read the accompanying anecdotes while your African Chicken is simmering. There is no real narrative arc and little discernible organization; the book could be either amiably rambling or lackadaisically unglued, depending on the reader’s fondness for long, interminable post-dinner conversations rendered in prose. The author overuses the technique of using paragraph breaks and short sentences to create drama, but otherwise the stories are funny, touching and revealing—and augmented with plenty of photos.
Not quite a memoir or a cookbook, this affectionate biography of a friendship vividly illustrates the importance of cooking to one of the 20th century’s most beloved progressive writers and activists.