A friend of mine gave me this book some time ago with the words ‘I think this is more your sort of thing than mine’. I felt a little slighted, as it looked like mindless-chick-lit-fluff but I added it to the tower of ‘books-to-read’. In my mind I relegated it to summer pool-side reading.
I have to admit the the title put me off but I shouldn’t have been so quick to dismiss ‘Cooking for Mr Latte’. Hesser is a food writer for the New York Times and despite the cheesy-chick-lit title this book is much more about food than romance. Each chapter is followed by several recipes and as well as offering some of her own creations, Hesser shares recipes from friends, family, favorite cook books and restaurants. As well as sharing her recipes Hesser introduces us to her family and friends, giving a warm and personal account that illustrates her philosophy that food is inextricably linked to where we eat, who we are with and what we talk about.
I enjoyed Hesser’s account of her blossoming relationship. There was definitely some resonance for me in some of her anxieties about moving in with Mr Latte, the meshing of their food habits and some overlap in our idea of the perfect man “be willing to travel to the far reaches of a city to seek out that dark little bar that makes the best fried oysters; … must like going to restaurants, expensive restaurants….. must eat sushi and offal.”
The recipes cover a wide range both in terms of the occasions that they would suit and the cuisines they reflect. Each recipe is given context and background and you are drawn in by each and every one. Often I flip through a recipe book ‘thinking nah, nah, maybe’ but here I was sold on each one, growing hungrier by the page. Hessler (unsuprisingly given her day job) does an excellent job at explaining the methods and ingredients, offering substitutions where applicable and making everything sound approachable and achievable. She also writes evocatively about food and even without pictures you are given a vivid and mouth-watering picture of each dish.
Any book that has six beet recipes is obviously a winner for me, but there were many other recipes that caught my imagination. One that I can’t wait to try is the Apician spiced dates from a restaurant called Lupa in Greenwich Village. I am hoping that my friend does not want the book back.
Here is another review of the book that I found insightful.