A collection of kitchen-spun memories and observations, and recipes to go with them.
Like smell, taste is a sense that evokes memories. In this unusual book, Baseman offers 50 brief columns covering various aspects of modern middle-aged life, ranging from the deeply moving–the loss of a beloved father on Christmas Eve–to the mundane, such as how the author always manages to pick the slowest line at the grocery store. Baseman often punctuates the short anecdotes with recipes for related dishes, though sometimes only tangentially, to each chapter’s subject. For example, a recent study that found that men respond most strongly to the smell of freshly baked cinnamon buns segues into a recipe for the sweet and sticky aphrodisiac; a tabloid story claiming that scientists had discovered the Garden of Eden and the infamous Tree of Knowledge, which the author read while standing in the aforementioned long grocery-store checkout line, leads to instructions for making apple squares. Other pieces, however, like the story of her father’s death or an essay on the worrisome experience of sitting in the waiting area before a mammogram, stand on their own, without recipes attached. The commentaries in the book, the author’s debut, are simultaneously old-fashioned and up-to-the-moment. While Baseman’s quirky observations are reminiscent of a column one might find in a local newspaper, it reads like a blog–a medium that may have been a more appropriate format for this collection. The delicious-sounding recipes, though, will stand the test of time.
The path to enlightenment and a good memory may be through the stomach.