In shape, size, and spirit, the latest from New York Post reporter Vincent (Gilded Lily: Lily Safra: The Making of One of the World's Wealthiest Widows, 2010, etc.) is like Tuesdays with Morrie with gourmet dinners.
The setup finds the author befriending the father of a friend, a recent widower in his 90s who saw no reason to go on living since the death of his beloved wife. Vincent was also in the middle of a personal crisis, with her marriage “unraveling, despite my best efforts to pretend that nothing was wrong.” She had joined the Post as an investigative reporter in hopes that a geographical change might benefit her family, but neither the job nor the move had been satisfying. Edward began cooking for the author once a week, giving them each something to look forward to, as “he was still mourning his beloved Paula and I was starting to see how unhappy I was in my marriage.” Preparing elaborate meals largely without recipes, the self-taught chef taught the middle-age journalist something about cooking but even more about appreciating life. “He was teaching me the art of patience, the luxury of slowing down and taking the time to think about everything I did,” she reflects, continuing, “I realize he was forcing me to deconstruct my own life, to cut it back to the bone and examine the entrails, no matter how messy that proved to be.” The meals sound mouthwatering, but the food metaphors for the life well lived wear thin. Vincent’s life did change, in pretty much every respect, and her relationship with her host deepened, but there’s a limit to how much inspiration one can receive from even the best of meals.
Vincent fills her pages with accounts of her life and Edward’s past, but for readers, the narrative becomes lighter on epiphany than calories.