Giada De Laurentiis meets Candace Bushnell in this debut memoir from romantically challenged yet resilient Melucci.
The author grew up Catholic, Italian and squeaky-clean in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Melucci’s mother played a consequential role in shaping her personality and taste buds, but the most touching early sections revolve around her father, an Italian immigrant. He was a serious man more concerned with facilitating his children’s education than fostering a sense of intimacy, but they grew closer when Melucci studied Italian and art history in college. He was pleased to share his native culture and food with her, and took her to Salerno to meet her Italian relatives. He died three days before she graduated from college; she still cherishes the envelope on which he wrote an impromptu note expressing his love when she was studying in Florence. Melucci warily moved to Manhattan, where she quickly—much to her surprise—landed both a man and a job. Her career as a book publicist, then VP for public relations at Harper’s magazine, proved to be a lot steadier than her love life. First there was Kit, who preferred alcohol to angel hair; Ethan, who loved halibut but hated cohabitation; and Mitch, the friend-with-benefits for whom Melucci made bowls of peppery farfalle. Her memoir is strewn with numerous other relatable scenarios and stereotypical lovers, none as satisfying as the homemade and borrowed recipes that accompany each escapade. Using cooking as catharsis after crumbled relationships, Melucci sprinkles sweet and savory homespun meals, ranging from traditional to eclectic, among anecdotes describing the angst of dating in your 30s. The urban backdrop includes Brooklyn’s budding neighborhoods, Greenwich Village’s underground music scene and SoHo’s sleek eateries. In the absence of a reliable male companion, strolling the aisles of Dean & DeLuca gets Melucci’s heart pumping.
Frustrations whisked into a tasty treat of a story.