In her debut, The Wednesday Chef blogger recounts her life in and out of the kitchen.
Weiss grew up shuttling between Berlin, where her Italian mother lived, and Brookline, Mass., home of her American father. As an adult, she moved from Paris to New York, where she began a food blog, until finally returning to Berlin to marry. Unfortunately, this coming-of-age memoir (with recipes) is fretful and flabby, and much of the prose violates the show-don’t-tell rule of writing. In one section, she describes how a pigeon almost collides with her head, interpreting the event as a sign from the universe that she should break up with her fiancé. In the hands of a more experienced writer, this could have been a gripping, even moving, discovery, but Weiss’ retelling of the event is unfocused and rambling—more fit for a stream-of-consciousness blog than a full-length book. Each overinflated chapter closes with a recipe from the author’s blog or from her personal life. A few of the recipes (e.g., spaghetti with breadcrumbs, capers and parsley) are so rudimentary, anyone who knows their way around a kitchen may wonder why they were included at all. But many more are ludicrously complicated, such as poppy-seed breakfast rolls that take more than three hours to make and “don’t keep well, so make sure to eat them warm the morning they’re made.” Still others require ingredients most Americans will be unable to find—e.g., one recipe calls for “20 to 25 elderflower sprays.” Weiss’ suggestion is to “look for them in the wild.” Much of the often-clunky writing leads to queasy descriptions of food, like a white asparagus salad “slurped up…lustily” and an “unctuous, quivering ragù.”
Half-baked and unappetizing.