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Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father's Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  1,779 Ratings  ·  336 Reviews
Matthew Amster-Burton was a restaurant critic and food writer long before he and his wife, Laurie, had Iris. Now he's a full-time, stay-at-home Dad and his experience with food has changed …a little.

Hungry Monkey is the story of Amster-Burton's life as a food-lover--with a child. It's the story of how he came to realize that kids don't need puree in a jar or special menu
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 19th 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Co
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Jul 20, 2009 Meghan rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir, blog, food, northwest
I've nailed down the reason I never like memoirs based on food blogs, although I think it might have more to do with what I read into them: a kind of dishonesty, an attitude of "hey, look at my beautiful life!", an unwillingness to delve deeply into how this lifestyle is maintained - we can't all be freelancers waxing rhapsodic about strawberries. Anyway, this is a memoir by a hip stay-at-home dad in Seattle, about what he cooks for his family, what his daughter likes, and how her tastes change ...more
Jun 29, 2009 Mallory rated it liked it
Recommends it for: yippies, foodies
I wanted to give this 2.5... darn this whole-star rating system.

Anyway, this book can't decide if it's a cookbook or a memoir... it's a stay-at-home dad's account of how he tried to encourage his daughter to be willing to try new foods (and sometimes succeeded!). I like food and I like kids, so I thought I'd like this book. It's a little Seattle Yippie for my taste (FYI a Yippie is a Yuppie masquerading as a Hippie - don't be fooled) with lots of accounts of going to the Asian Grocery and the Fa
Apr 20, 2010 Yune rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, food, humorous

Really quite charming: the tale of a food writer's daughter's culinary journeys. I got this book because I find the author's podcast (Spilled Milk, made with another food writer) to be entertaining and informative and friendly for a hopeless cook such as myself. His voice shines through just as clearly in print.

If you're a beginning cook, Everyday Food will ask you to stretch, but not very far. There's a monthly feature called "Have you tried...?" introducing a special ingredient, such has canne
Oct 01, 2009 Deb rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens, cooking
The style of this book is perfect. It's not a cookbook, it's not a memoir, it's just a dad and his kid (Iris) traversing the rocky road of childhood eating habits. The author just happens to tell you how he makes the easy-peasy recipes for Iris at the end of each chapter. I am definitely stealing the 6-ingredient phad thai recipe!

One of the things I really enjoyed were the references to other food-for-kids books. Amster-Burton balances his food expertise and experiences raising a foodie kid agai
Nov 03, 2009 Anne rated it it was ok
I had mixed feelings about this book.

Parts of it were quite funny.

There were some recipes that I'd like to try sometime (I probably won't)


It was also just a series of vignettes about how lucjy he is that his daughter was adventurous in food.

A lot of people probably pick up this book hoping to find out hw he did it so they can try it too - but what you find out is that his daughter - while she goes through food phases just like all children seems to have the same kinds of idiosyncrasies as mo
May 09, 2013 Claire rated it really liked it
As the first book I read post-baby, this had a marvelous way of calming my fears about starting our dragon on solids and keeping me laughing in the scattered few moments I could cobble together to read it. In particular, the first few chapters made me laugh at my own hyperactive worries about raising a healthy water and it had great overarching ideas about good foods to try, but unfortunately I'm a bit of a culinary "all-thumbs" so most of the later recipes, while delectably described, just inti ...more
May 31, 2010 Lindsey rated it liked it
Overall this was a fun read and I liked its (mostly) relatable stories about kids and food. What's fun is that you get kid/food stories, but in the "amped up" version (i.e. his kid asking for lobster for dinner and picking out sushi from the conveyor belt). In the end, though, you realize kids are really all the same, meaning they all have their idiosyncracies. What I didn't like was the author, at least the guy talking in the book (whether that's really the author or not). For as hard as he (se ...more
Aug 20, 2012 Annelise rated it did not like it
Shelves: contemporary
This guy was too hip for me. But like so many hipsters, he thinks he's not one and goes out of his way to prove it...before diving right back into the sea of hip where no one else could possibly follow and splashing the water ostentatiously. Sometimes I had to put the book down and breathe deeply until the waves stopped crashing to their indie beat. I think I was supposed to think this was funny. But PS: What's with all the foodie dads who publish recipes that I wouldn't even use for fancy Sunda ...more
Nov 08, 2008 CLM rated it it was amazing
Great fun! I enjoyed hearing about Matthew, Iris and Laurie's adventures from his perspective, and of course I particularly enjoyed the literary allusions and references to those I know (although somehow I did not find any BT mentions - in other ways, Matthew comes close to the perfect spouse). Every time I picked the book up I got hungry again although I am less sophisticated than Iris and would probably not survive for long in this household. I am trying to remember what I ate when I visited L ...more
Nov 08, 2008 Wendy added it
It's funny! It quotes from obscure children's books! It makes me hungry! I like the part about me.
May 09, 2009 Kirsten rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-of-baby
I finished this book today and gave it to my husband so he could read it while on a business trip. I am already regretting that decision because I won't have Hungry Monkey in my hands again for 6 whole days. As soon as I read the last page I wanted to start over again with some little sticky flags in my hand to mark recipes I wanted to try and passages where Amster-Burton says specifically that kaiten sushi is ideal baby food. But no, I was all, "This book is hilarious. It's about cooking and ki ...more
Kristi Brown
Jul 21, 2009 Kristi Brown rated it it was amazing
I recently picked up a copy of a new food memoir titled "Hungry Monkey" by Matthew Amster-Burton...because you got me...I loved the kitchy title, its cover and because it was about food. Oh, and the author is from my home - Seattle. What is there not to like about this book? Well, nothing! After a busy Saturday morning with my a$$ firmly planted on my upper deck I devoured this food memoir, enjoying every bite of it!

Yes, I did take some reading breaks! The first break was to try almond milk - st
Dec 26, 2009 Carlie rated it really liked it
A fun read. Enjoyed the solidarity of foodie-ness + parenthood in the author's life and also mine. Amster-Burton is a no health food freak and is one of the most guilt-free child feeders that I've ever run across, I aspire to his level of mental freedom about what constitutes "right" eating and what is acceptable fare and practice for youthful meals. I have occasional fantasies about living in Seattle and this book didn't help that little delusion any...the author's world sounds like a paridisic ...more
Jan 03, 2010 Michael rated it liked it
This was a Christmas gift, and the last book I read in 2009.

First, it's important to note that the subtitle is misleading. Amster-Burton clearly wants his daughter to be an adventurous eater, but he gives up on that when she learns that she can say "yuck", around 24 months of age. The book is really about how to cook for a family that includes a picky toddler without making multiple meals and sacrificing taste for the adults.

Caveat number two: Amster-Burton is a stay-at-home dad with two hours
Aug 23, 2009 Heather rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who like food and kids, even if they're iffy on the combination
Recommended to Heather by: it was on Merri Su's end table
Disclaimer: I don't have kids. And I read this at someone's house, so I mostly skimmed the second half, and I didn't read any of the recipes.

It's more of a fun read than a step-by-step how-to, but it's great for perspective, even for those who do not frequent their local Asian market. The basic message is to give your baby/child the opportunity to be as non-picky an eater as they can be, but as picky as they need to be (and still give them the opportunity to come out of whatever phase they're in
Nov 08, 2008 Melody rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who eat
I love books that reinforce my own prejudices, and this book does so in spades. I love books that star people I know and like. I especially love books that make me laugh and follow my family around to read aloud to them. Amster-Burton strikes all the right notes in this memoir-cookbook hybrid. He's wryly hilarious and sweet without being treacly. His recipes are clear and readable and mostly appetizing, though I remain unconvinced regarding polenta. His loving, warm descriptions of his 4-year-ol ...more
Jan 24, 2012 Kristina rated it it was amazing
According to the author (a restaurant critic & food writer, who reads the American Pediatric Journal- for the articles), picky eaters are not made, it just happens- as he and many others in his food circle (including chefs) can attest to. One day his daughter is eating spicy foods, sushi, fish, etc., the next week she's not, and still is not. This book had many funny, laugh out loud parts. The author is very entertaining, as well as encouraging. I thoroughly enjoyed this book having a child ...more
Jul 02, 2012 Betsey rated it really liked it
A food-writing Seattle dad tries (with varying degrees of success) to create an adventurous eater out of his daughter, Iris. Some good recipes are sprinkled in with his anecdotes, and they're heavy on the meat. I especially enjoyed the brief appearances of other Seattle foodies and food writers. One might call this name dropping but Amster-Burton seems too down to earth to call it that. Dads will especially appreciate this book, even more so if they are in charge of the bulk of their household's ...more
Heidi The Hippie Librarian
I have a picky eater and this book doesn't really help with that. I found myself becoming incredibly jealous that his kid eats sushi, duck, and everything under the sun even though Matthew claims that she hardly eats anything. Also, he has time to go grocery shopping every day? Yeah... not practical for me. Some of the recipes that Matthew suggests I might be able to do, if I could find the weird ingredients to go in them. Overall, this book is not what I had hoped it would be.
Apr 25, 2013 Anna rated it really liked it
Hungry Monkey was fun to read. I'd probably love any book about cooking and eating. This book made me feel better about having a picky eater, because he says, among other comforting arguments, that the solution to picky eating is "recognizing that it isn't a problem" (p. 107). This book also made me feel a lot of other emotions, but it mostly made me hungry. I'll be saving some of the recipes and trying them out with my two hungry monkeys.
Jul 15, 2009 Danika rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents
A very quick and enjoyable read. The author is pretty funny and I found myself laughing at many of his adventures with 4-yr old Iris. I'm not sure how many of the recipes I'll make, but his approach is refreshing.
May 24, 2015 Heidi rated it really liked it
Great book with a healthy mix of humor and information. I'm looking forward to teaching my own daughter the joy of cooking and eating a wide variety of food
Oct 29, 2011 Dlmrose rated it really liked it
Ashley Martin-Golis
Mar 27, 2017 Ashley Martin-Golis rated it really liked it
A fun and funny "parenting" book about how one guy tried to get his daughter to try fun foods. Reads more like a memoir than a prescriptive guide, which I liked. I even tried a few of the recipes. I hope he writes an update when Iris gets older.
Jan 21, 2015 Meagan rated it really liked it
I finally finished reading Hungry Monkey, and I can’t believe it took me this long to write about it. I’ve certainly mentioned it enough, like how I laughed out loud on the bus, at a Mexican restaurant, and countless other places and got funny looks every time. Or how I spent most of the book trying to figure out in what neighborhood the author lived; I figured it out (Capitol Hill), and was so proud until he said it flat out two pages later. (Can’t win.)

Well, I finally finished, all that to say
May 16, 2010 Sarah rated it really liked it
I put this on my list after observing someone reading it and laughing to herself. I may have had the same effect on other people [lots of witty humor:], I read it only on my subway rides and it took me about 10 days to finish.

Things I liked:
**Most of the recipes. At first I was annoyed they were in there [for some reason wasn't expecting them to be:]. I thought, what am I gonna do with a bunch of kid food recipes? But some of them sound really good and all of them are pretty low-maintenance, whi
Nov 10, 2008 Kelly rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cookbooks, memoir
Well, of course I loved it! What's not to love? Iris's adventures with food are hilarious and the recipes look delicious. I was ALMOST tempted yesterday morning to pay a visit to the Korean mega-store to gather ingredients for bibimbap, but then I remembered all the Korean grandmas and their mad skillz with the shopping carts, and sanity reasserted itself. (Like the author, I shop every day -- but I refuse to shop on weekends.)

The best part of this book is Amster-Burton's acknowledgment that you
May 15, 2009 Carmen rated it really liked it
I love food writing and this book jumped out at me as I'm about to add more solids to my daughter's diet and lamenting about my increasingly picky toddler. Matthew Amster-Burton, a stay-at-home dad chronicles his quest to introduce a variety of foods to his daughter's diet. This really isn't about health food although he does address the topic. His journey is really about avoiding the extremely boring and bland diets of young children. It's not that he's against the chicken nugget per se, but h ...more
Feb 14, 2010 Meredith rated it really liked it
(This is a long one, I wrote it for the library booktalk blog:)

I have a 2 1/2 year old who will eat pretty much nothing but raisins and cheerios. This hasn't fazed us, however. We continue to offer him foods we enjoy, like sushi and hummus. We figure one day he might just surprise us all and try some!

Matthew Amster-Burton is of the same mind. His book, Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father's Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater, is part memoir and part cookbook. His anecdotes about his daughter and
Ellen Bell
Feb 18, 2013 Ellen Bell rated it did not like it
Shelves: food, parenting
This book annoyed me on so many different levels... It was supposed to be a book about a father's culinary adventures with his picky-eating young daughter. In reality, the book is an excuse for the author to tell one pointless story after another about his daughter, bragging on and on about what a great eater she is (not really picky at all). He intersperses the book with a few dozen recipes that are wholly uninspiring. I get that the author loves his daughter and is really into everything she s ...more
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Matthew Amster-Burton is the author of the YA novel OUR SECRET BETTER LIVES and four nonfiction books, including HUNGRY MONKEY (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009) and PRETTY GOOD NUMBER ONE: AN AMERICAN FAMILY EATS TOKYO (2013), which was a bestseller in Japan and has been optioned for film. He has written for Gourmet, the Wall Street Journal, and the Seattle Times, and has appeared in the BEST FOOD ...more
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