A celebration of food connects a mother and son.
In an exuberant and entertaining memoir, novelist, screenwriter, playwright, editor, and producer Gethers (Ask Bob, 2013, etc.) pays homage to his mother, an accomplished cook, and to the amazing food they both loved. His goal in writing, he says, “was to cook with my mom, to share the breakfast and lunch menus with her as I went along, and to become proficient enough in the kitchen so I could make the dinner of her dreams.” His mother died before he could make that dinner, but the author includes recipes for her favorite dishes along with a running commentary of his occasionally bumbling efforts to cook some complicated gourmet dishes invented by chefs that his mother admired: Joël Robuchon’s mashed potatoes, for example, Yotam Ottolenghi’s quail, and Wolfgang Puck’s salmon coulibiac. Judy Gethers committed fully to cooking at age 53, honing her skills at the esteemed Los Angeles restaurant Ma Maison, where Puck reigned. Cooking, the author writes, “quickly became an all-consuming passion, and her life soon revolved around crème caramels and salmon mousse and various foods en croute.” Although devoted to her warm and supportive husband and their two grown sons, she also found in the restaurant “a new family” among the staff (Puck became a beloved friend) and “a new kind of exhilaration.” She redefined herself through cooking and reveled in her accomplishments. Inspired by his mother’s new passion, Gethers edited cookbooks and produced food-related TV shows; he also began to cook, taking on some daunting challenges. When he first read the multistep recipe for salmon coulibiac, he admits he felt “borderline hysterical,” but he managed to produce a dish that was, he writes proudly, “a work of art”—but not as amazing as what his mother would have made. “My mother’s food,” he exults, “has always been exactly like my mother: appealing, comforting, genuine, unpretentious, at times whimsical, always elegant.”
A loving family portrait and a treat for foodies.