A nonfiction writer and food expert tells the story of her long struggle to overcome a poor body image and unhealthy eating habits.
Howard had always felt like an outsider. She was always the “tallest [girl], towering and ungainly,” all through grade school, a dark-haired Jew in “a sea of blondes.” To become “dainty and pert,” she went so far as to have breast reduction surgery in high school. Unfortunately, her efforts did nothing to fill her inner emptiness or improve the poor self-image at the core of her dissatisfaction. Determined to continue remaking herself, she began what became an unhealthy pattern of yo-yo dieting just before entering Columbia University. At around the same time, the author also had an intense sexual involvement with the troubled middle-age manager of the gelato shop where she worked part-time before moving on to the prestigious Picholine restaurant. Despite academic success at Columbia and an internship at the Serious Eats blog, she still wallowed in private misery as a part-anorexic, part-bulimic woman with the character traits of both disorders: “people-pleasing, timid, perfectionistic, inflexible” on the one hand and “impulsive, dramatic and erratic” on the other. Yet the same passion for food that caused Howard such personal shame eventually came to define her career path as a food industry expert. After graduation, she moved to Los Angeles, where she trained to run a high-end steakhouse, then to Philadelphia, where she managed an “American Italianish” restaurant, then back to NYC, where she worked at the Fairway Market. As she battled her eating disorder, she found herself drawn into sexual relationships that were as passionate as they were destructive. Only after discovering a compulsive-eating recovery group was Howard finally able to find deeper healing and the self-respect that had eluded her. In this candid and searching memoir, Howard offers a celebration of food as well as an account of the determination required to forge a path to self-acceptance.
An inspirational memoir of food and finding oneself.