Eat, Memory: Great Writers at the Table: A Collection of Essays from the New York Times
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Eat, Memory: Great Writers at the Table: A Collection of Essays from the New York Times

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  472 ratings  ·  87 reviews
New York Times Magazine food editor Amanda Hesser has showcased the food-inspired recollections of some of America's leading writers—playwrights, screenwriters, novelists, poets, journalists—in the magazine. Eat, Memory collects the twenty-six best stories and recipes to accompany them.

Ann Patchett confronts her stubbornness in a heated argument she once had with her then-...more
Hardcover, 204 pages
Published November 17th 2008 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published November 3rd 2008)
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Jan 08, 2010 Rebecca rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: yum
(With apologies to my dad, who generously gifted me this promising book!) Some of these essays stand nicely on their own but many are forgettable, and as a collection this is a waste of paper. A transparent attempt to milk some extra money out of a perfectly nice column in the NYT. It barely cracks 200 pages, and has literally an extra inch of right margin space. Every essay is followed by one of those frivolous tie-in recipes no one ever makes. One of these "essays" is just a reprinted excerpt...more
A lot of these essays seem only to scratch the surface. But they were probably perfect for a newspaper column, which is where they first appeared, and choice of authors is fun. From this collection, I learned that Tom Perrotta is a cripplingly picky eater. And that an elderly MFK Fisher grew tired of her endless parade of lunch visitors. And there's an essay from R.W. Apple Jr. about how he got good food in war zones or other unlikely places.
These 26 essays are memories that somehow involve food. They are all 3-4 pages long. These remembrances are silly, or sad, or serious, or funny, or uplifting and many end with the recipe for that particular food.
Rather than a meal, I used this book as a snack; something to munch on while waiting for the dryer to finish, etc. I enjoyed almost all of these tidbits.
Delightful. A compilation the NY Times column of the same name - essays by terrific writers about food and eating. Not "food writers" - there are no essays by MFK Fisher here (although there is one rather disturbing essay about her). Check out the very funny recipes by Patricia Marx, The New Yorker's great shopping columnist!
I love this kind of stuff--personal essays where people take you back to something meaningful that happened to them in their life. And in this case it included memories involving food, so how could this book lose? A couple of times I would turn to my companion and say, "I love this book!"
Annabel Krantz
A clever idea by Amanda Hesser saw writers across America contributing essays about what food means to them; twenty-six authors shared stories about their favourite food memories. There were Jews cooking the passover meal in Berlin, a brother cooking comfort food for his Autistic sister on their birthday, Indian's trying their best to introduce their families to the delicate French cuisine, an ode to garlic, and one to gravy, and gripes by those who don't love food about people forcing them to e...more
2/15/12: This is a collection--"Best of", I'd guess--of short essays written for the "Eat, Memory" column in the New York Times Magazine. Edited by Amanda Hesser (who also edited the column while it ran), it covers a wide range of authors and topics, though all focus on the theme of memories and food.

A quick read, but there are some lovely surprises in here; it is amazing how evocative smell and taste can be, bringing to mind memories of place and time and family. Just as Proust tells us! Also,...more
I love essays. And if you want to read fantastic essays, get a bunch from the times and put them in a book!

I am in awe of Amanda Hesser and her ideas. Food writing that is not odes to grandmother's cooking, but instead essays about why grandmother cooked. I loved reading this on the subway as they were just the right length between work and home. She chose talented writers, playwrights, and poets to render memories into delectable bites.

My favorites were: The Great Carrot Caper, The Absolutely...more
Catherine Woodman
I recieved this book from some great friends, who are as food oriented as we are, and I had not heard of it, so always nice to be given soemthing that is perfect for you that you were unaware of. This is a collection of essays by people who write, and very generally they are about food or the experience around food. I really liked some of them (the blind grill chef, Kiran Desai talking about her growing up experiece to name a couple), and perhaps best of all, it made me think seriously about wri...more
Samuel Brown
I'm easily persuaded to read something that alludes to Nabokov in the title, so I started this collection with great hopes. There are several wonderful essays here, including Ann Patchett's, but there are also less compelling essays and one, an account by a restaurateur of her bizarrely sadistic evaluation of a cook who was apparently legally blind, that was simply horrifying.
One of my fondest memories was a dinner at a french restaurant with my husband, our young children, and my in laws. I did not think this an appropriate pick for youngsters but my father in law insisted. As we strolled in past candlelit tables filled with couples, I thought oh this is not a family establishment by any stretch. By the end of our 3 hour meal though, we were unaware of anyone else in the place. The meal was amazing and Grandpa made sure that his grandkids had whatever they needed in...more
Sandy D.
This is a short little book, with a bunch of snack-sized (but delicious) essays. The first one in there (by author Ann Patchett) was kind of a dud, so I set it down and didn't pick it up again until right before it was due at the library - but most of the rest of the pieces in it were amazing. Several very funny bits, more than a couple that made me tear up - all in all, wonderful if you like reading about food.

My favorites: a chef who tries to grow almond flavored carrots, the guy who hates des...more
Feb 09, 2014 Kathy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: foodies
Recommended to Kathy by: Kyle Citrynell
An light book, perfect for travel or vacation. A few stories are poignant, some funny, a couple a little dry. Some of the recipes included with essays (not all have recipes) are a bit complicated, even for a semi-accomplished foodie.
This book is very short. I didn't enjoy most of the stories because I felt that they ended before they could unfold. Most stories end with one or more recipes and many of which sound amazing. My favourite story is probably 'American Dreams'.
This week I read Eat, Memory, a collection of essays from the New York Times, edited by Amanda Hesser. A book about cooking and food, I am in heaven. Each essay was very well written. All were from widely different perspectives. I enjoyed that. This would be a great coffee table book - each story can be read in under 10 minutes. Most of the essays end with a special recipe that relates to the story. I can't wait to try some of them out.

Read complete review at
Picked this up on a whim at the library. It was a fun and quick collection of food essays from the NYT. Some were excellent ("Family Menu" by Allen Shawn, "Crossing to Safety" by Dorothy Allison, "Inward Bound" by Chang-Rae Lee) and others I found to be pretentious and annoying. That's kind of how I feel about all food writing. For me, it doesn't get much better than the good stuff, but the articles I find stuffy or snooty are just nauseating.

The book includes some recipes that look tasty and in...more
Feb 19, 2009 Laurie added it
Shelves: nonfiction
Unlike the usual collection of lyrical writing about memorable food experiences, this anthology has food writers and "regular" writers describing experiences related to food. I especially enjoyed two pieces about working in the food industry, Tucker Carlson on his time canning baked beans and Colson Whitehead as ice cream scooper. These essays are about food, not necessarily the love of food. Fans of some of these writers (Ann Patchett, Tom Perrotta, and Dorothy Allison are among those included)...more
The recipes I'm going to try from Eat, Memory are the Sole Meuniere and the Shrimp Ajillo. Shrimp is my favorite food and I'm going to try to cook the shrimp ajillo next week.

The other recipes don't excite me.

The narratives are often humorous, laced with food foibles.

As not all the recipes thrill me, I would suggest you check the book out of the library.

[I tend to be a generous reviewer though so the four stars.]

The gastro narratives read in a flash. So pick it up: read and feed yourself.
This book was a breeze to read through because of the fact that each essay was so unique and just brief enough. I wondered how this collection could be cohesive without being too scatter-brained, but it it was somehow put together with a perfect balance of diversity and commonality. There are some essays enjoyed far more than others, but all were worth reading and gave it's own valuable perspective on food from different cultures, economic castes, ages, and personal circumstances.
You may find some of these familiar pieces if you regularly read the New York Times. Short but illuminating, they surprise by examining various aspects of our experience with food. My favorite was by Yiyun Li discussing how Tang became the cool drink in her Chinese community. It cost l/2 a months salary, but somehow people obtained it. Another favorite was Patricia Marx, who hated to eat as a child, and for her birthday was allowed to skip dinner!
Steve and Hilary gave this to me for Christmas. It is one of the most thoughtful presents I've ever received. A perfect fit for me because I write about food on my blog and love to read.

I really enjoyed this collection. All of the essays were interesting, vivid, emotional, mouth-watering... I liked the inclusion of recipes. Highly recommended to anyone who likes essays/short stories and food writing.
Nothing special. Apart from a short essey by Ann Patchett not really worth reading.
Like most collections, there are some good and some mediocre essays in here. Most of them are followed by a recipe that's mentioned in the essay, which is kind of cool though mostly not things that I would want to make. It was an enjoyable read, though. It would make a good airplane book, too, since the essays are all fairly short and quick, and you don't need that much attention span to make your way through it:)
Hesser (who wrote that silly book about Mister Latte, her poor husband) has collected some delightful essays and memoirs from the New York Times Magazine (where she was a food editor until recently). They are short, digestible, emotional and witty ... variously. This is a near-perfect book to read on an airplane or airport ... which is what I did. It is a certain antidote to airplane and airport "food."
This book nurtured my inner foodie. It presents in great detail stories of special meals, friends, family, abundance and loss. Everyone has memories of a food or dining experience that has forever changed them, and this book is a candid peek into those moments of a handful talented writers. If you like to eat, read or write, it's a tasty treat(ise).
These essays that have food as a central theme were originally published in the Sunday New York Times Magazine as columns. The writing, mostly by authors and writers and by some chefs, is so brilliant that if you have the slightest bit of interest in anything food-related, you will find this book immensely delicious and satisfying. Read them all.
do i sound like a jerk when i say that i think you can get a lot more out of checking the NYTs food blogs? honestly, there were a few good entries; the rest just a range of self congratulatory to self-indulgent entries that, to me, are not very strong examples of food writing. my sister took it out from the library (thankfully).

Ghosts of Passovers Past - Anna Winger
To love Berlin is to accept its history and to live with its ghosts.
Family Menu - Allen Shawn
It is amazing how much people contain that we do not ever have a chance to know about, how vast and mysterious we all are.
Oct 26, 2008 Alexa rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: food
I've forgotten how many books and essays about food I've read, so some of these were repetitive. But they are nice, short essays about food and the meaning of food. Certainly not my favorite food-writing but it does the trick when someone steals your Sunday New York Times and you're in the mood for some short, non-fiction pieces.
A collage of food centric essays that have been published in the New York Times. Some were far more entertaining than others.

It was a nice book to pick up here and there - but by no means kept me enthralled. The book also includes recipes after several of the vignettes - but none that I will be making.
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Amanda Hesser has been a food columnist and editor at the New York Times for more than a decade. She is the author of the award-winning Cooking for Mr. Latte and The Cook and the Gardener and edited the essay collection Eat, Memory. Hesser is also the co-founder of She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Tad Friend, and their two children.
More about Amanda Hesser...
The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lover's Courtship, with Recipes The Food52 Cookbook: 140 Winning Recipes from Exceptional Home Cooks The Cook and the Gardener: A Year of Recipes and Notes from the French Countryside The Food52 Cookbook, Volume 2: Seasonal Recipes from Our Kitchens to Yours

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