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The Gastronomy of Marriage: A Memoir of Food and Love

3.42  ·  Rating Details ·  516 Ratings  ·  95 Reviews
“On our first date, Rich ordered a chocolate soufflé at the beginning of the meal, noting an asterisk on the menu warning diners of the wait involved. At the time, I imagined he did it partly to impress me, which it did, though today I know well that he’s simply the type of man who knows better than to turn down a hot-from-the-oven soufflé when one is offered to him.”

Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 8th 2009 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published August 22nd 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dec 08, 2009 skein rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 3-star
New York City freelance author Michelle expounds on her wedding plans, wedding fears, wedding exercise regime, & wedding clothes. What part of this preparation is her own (modern woman! no red meat!) and what is baggage from the past (Italian grandparents, her parent's divorce)?

And more importantly - what the hell are they going to eat for dinner? It cannot be too expensive (hello, they're saving for a wedding) and cannot be planned in advance - Michelle cringes - that would not take advant
Jul 05, 2014 Miriam rated it really liked it
I recognize so much of myself in this book. Cooking for someone else's palette and stomach, compromise, taking on household duties because my partner makes more money. Wanting my choices to last and stick, but also knowing that everything is temporary--you can renegotiate your roles, time changes all, and not everyone makes it through all the time.

I like the tone, which I may be projecting from my own space. But I consider this a very wistful, melancholy goodbye to singlehood. She's enthusiastic
Nov 30, 2009 Felicity rated it it was ok
The basic premise of this memoir is that the author tries to use food as a metaphor for her relationship. Every night (yes, every night) they have to decide what to eat (he's a Chinese meat-eater, she's an Italian vegetarian) for dinner. This is a process that involves learning about your partner's needs and desires, his moods, and it's a process that involves learning how to compromise. The premise is theoretically interesting, but it doesn't really work, because I can't see what the author ...more
Melanie Faith
Feb 11, 2011 Melanie Faith rated it really liked it
This creative nonfiction memoir interweaves several of my favorite themes: melding of cuisines, family, career, friends and love (and why we choose the people we do to populate our lives). Anyone interested in the tale of a Gen Xer writer planning a wedding and both questioning and enjoying the exploration of gender roles in the kitchen and in her personal life, will enjoy this tale of Michelle and her fellow writer fiance, Rich. While I'm not a great cook by any means, I especially enjoyed her ...more
Sep 28, 2010 Catherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every family has its own unique culture, full of eccentrics, oddballs, and longstanding traditions. Maisto tells her personal story of trying to create her own family rituals with her fiancé, Rich. Maisto is from an Italian family and Rich grew up in a Chinese family. The melding of their cuisine preferences is featured in the book along with several recipes. But Maisto’s memoir was really more, for me, about the alchemy of Michelle and Rich’s relationship.

I would highly recommend this book for
Dec 27, 2009 Michelle rated it it was amazing
Cannot tell you how much I loved this book - I devoured it (pun intended). Such a fun, sweet, incredible tale of love, marriage and food.

Hard to tell if this book rang so true because I am also a recently married, former New Yorker who cooks like crazy with her husband, but this book did remind me that my little life is not all that unique (not the most shocking revelation, but it's still uncanny to turn so many pages and be reminded that your story is being lived out in how many other countles
Barb Lawrence
Aug 27, 2010 Barb Lawrence rated it really liked it
I absolutely adore this book. I devoured it (pun intended) and wished I could scrape the bowl for more. It's a cup of introspection, two cups of mementos and memories, a dash of hopefulness, and a sprinkling of recipes. Exactly what I crave in written pages. I want to read volume two--I want to read about the wedding, the Southern food, and kids running around the kitchen.
Jun 04, 2011 Courtney rated it it was amazing
I just loved reading this book. Great feel for food, family, and making new paths together in marriage. Honest and real. Yum recipes too!
Jan 16, 2013 Erin rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
I really enjoyed this book at the start. There are great recipes that I wanted to jump up and try right away. I actually did run to the fridge to see if I had the ingredients for a soup she makes early on and ended up adding to my grocery list. (I did make the soup later and it was great!) The many lists of ingredients and grocery lists throughout didn't even bother me because I wanted to know what would come of them. What I really liked is how she sometimes worked the recipes into the text, ...more
Sep 20, 2016 Megan rated it liked it
With the idea of meal planning being a fate worse than death, every night the author and her fiancé have to decide what’s for dinner. He being a meat eating Asian and her a vegetarian Italian this leads to much discussion and several plates being prepared each evening. It was interesting to read about the evolution of the relationship as they plan the wedding. Felt a bit let down since the book ends abruptly a few weeks before the big event. It includes several recipes, but none I want to try ...more
Apr 16, 2010 Maija rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
I have to admit - I first chose to read this book before I loved the cover - 2 yellow crookneck squash entwined on a blue background, very striking (I actually spotted the book in a photo of a bookstore on a blog).

This wasn't a perfect book, but I think it's because the author was pretty real & honest throughout. At times almost too honest - ouch, she shared how she wrote an email to break up with her boyfriend, went to church & had 2nd thoughts - not sure I'd want to share that, but pe
Jan 20, 2010 Linda rated it liked it
"On our first date, Rich ordered a chocolate soufflé at the beginning of the meal, noting an asterisk on the menu warning diners of the wait involved. At the time, I imagined he did it partly to impress me, which it did, though today I know well that he’s simply the type of man who knows better than to turn down a hot-from-the-oven soufflé when one is offered to him.”
— The Gastronomy of Marriage

If Michelle Maisto was quite taken with her date's behavior as described above, I was equally smitten
Sep 15, 2016 Stephanie rated it did not like it
Last week i finished up a little book called The Gastronomy of Marriage by Michelle Maisto. I thought it sounded intriguing because it's about a couple who are planning their wedding and enjoy cooking together, much like me and Nathan. Yeah, it's a memoir and i don't much like memoirs, i reasoned, but i enjoyed Committed so maybe i'll enjoy this, too.

I didn't.

It's mercifully short and padded with recipes, which i thought was a nice touch since most of the book is a description of cooking this or
Jun 04, 2011 K.M. rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I loved this book. There are so many statements that I could relate to from the author in her memoir about food and her relationships, both with her future husband and with their families.
"He never wants to talk about what to eat in advance," she laments at one point when trying to decide what to do about dinner (pg 101). She is Italian (not to mention a vegetarian) and he is Chinese and she finds it difficult to wing dinner when combining these two so very different culinary traditions further
Amanda Snow
May 22, 2010 Amanda Snow rated it really liked it
I was completely enchanted by Michelle Maisto's writing and her beautiful honesty when it came to food and love. I found myself constantly comparing my husband and I to she and Rich...we're so alike! Our husbands are both the picky ones in the relationship, we're the planners of the meals (if our husbands let us plan), and we feel this need to be great wives without compromising a bit of ourselves.

I must admit, I was more than a bit impressed with Maisto's knowledge of food and cooking, though s
Nov 23, 2009 katie rated it really liked it
a sweet surprise given that i ordered it after its appearance on the Book Design Review (a book cover critiques blog almost divorced from any mention of book content). it turned out to be a light, charming, unique account of a late 20-something woman's obsession with food & cooking, intertwined with thoughts on the nature of relationships, set in detail in new york city. williamsburg-dwelling, greenmarket-attending girlfriends, you will think at times that she wrote it just for you. (i did.) ...more
Mar 29, 2010 Roxanne rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, reference, food
In this memoir, Michelle Maisto describes the months leading up to her wedding, and how she made a bargain with her husband-to-be: he'd take on extra freelance jobs to pay for the wedding costs, and to give him more time to work, she'd take over the cooking. As she cooks meals, Maisto remembers her childhood, how she learned about cooking in the first place from her mother, and she struggles with the idea of being a stereotypical housewife. Recipes for the things she cooks appear throughout ...more
Dec 23, 2009 Kate rated it liked it
This book is a story about two people who are engaged to be married and their relationship, which evolves around their love for good food. It is a mixture of recipes and stories about the couple - Michelle is Italian and Rich is Chinese and they make meals together, combining the two cooking traditions they learned from their different family backgrounds.

I'm excited to try some of the recipes in the book, like the pastina and the artichoke pie. I was amazed how the couple put together such elabo
Jul 01, 2009 Lisa rated it it was ok
I was disappointed in this book. It has great reviews on Amazon, but I didn't get into the book at all until towards the end. The only reason I kept reading was because there were a few little tidbits that reminded me of my relationship with my partner and I guess I was expecting there might be something deeper coming. Those depths never really came through for me. I thought Maisto (unintentionally) painted a negative picture of her fiancé, or her relationship with him. It seemed like he was ...more
Apr 29, 2016 Marci rated it really liked it
A lovely piece of writing by Michelle Maisto. She tells the story of her engagement and glimpses of her life, all as they connect to the food she makes and that has been made for her. I really enjoyed the fact that she lives in NYC because I recognize so much of what she talks about (the tiny kitchens with too small stoves, the improvised dinner parties, the rearranging of furniture to make room for new people, the neighbors knowing your business because you prop a shoe in the door to cool the ...more
Jan 02, 2010 Ashley rated it it was amazing
This book was sensational. Here writing is brilliant, her recipes are fantastic, every page is filled with laughter and one can almost smell the garlic and olive oil. I also love how translatable this text is. I feel like everyone can relate to Michelle's situation- either through her large, Italian family or Rich's small, reserved family. I also love how all of her relationships revolve around food and fellowship. My favourite is when she tells her father that she had pasta fagioli with Rich, ...more
Kat Kiddles
Nov 01, 2010 Kat Kiddles rated it liked it
I think it was the zucchinis that first caught my eye – blushing oh so brightly as they cuddle up to each other. The word ‘memoir’ inspired me to read the back cover. Then there were the factors that encouraged me to pull some pennies out of my pockets: it’s about marriage, it’s about food, and it’s based in New York. Translation: I’ll get to relate to someone about married life, maybe pick up a few cooking tips, and live vicariously through the characters’ urban adventures (yes, I feel sorry ...more
Sep 15, 2014 Dana rated it it was ok
I get that making dinner is a metaphor for their relationship And their differences but after a while when she is going over yet another discussion of what to cook that night and what it "really means" it just gets old...

It doesn't seem that she and her husband develop over the course of the book, they get closer to the wedding, we read a bit about their families, and the couple still insists on cooking each dinner from scratch and then dealing with the stress...every night.

It's a memoir so I fe
Dec 23, 2009 Danika rated it liked it
On the fence about giving this book 3 stars (almost gave it 2). There were some things I really enjoyed about it, but I found it a bit disjointed (didn't flow very well) and repetitive. Basic premise: it's a memoir that covers several months of the author's life after she becomes engaged and moves in with her fiance. They are both foodies to some degree and it details their compromises in the kitchen and so on. She's Italian-American, he's Chinese-American. He eats meat, she doesn't. Definitely ...more
Adey Teshome
Sep 02, 2014 Adey Teshome rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-related
I recall thinking this book had some structural issues and perhaps could have been arranged better but I'd have to reread it to accurately comment on that. More importantly, I loved the sweetness of the story and the author's honesty. I'm a sucker for a food-related book or film and I really enjoyed the way she weaved in all the food related memories to her personal experiences. My favorite description was of the sweet tofu dish that her fiance made for her, her in-laws and her future sister and ...more
Jan 26, 2010 Jessica rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: foodies
Shelves: cooking-food
The Gastronomy of Marriage follows Michelle and her fiance Rich as they move in together and plan their wedding. Growing up in an Italian household food was a big part of Michelle's life and it continues to be as she begins sharing her life with Rich. During their engagement Michelle begins to focus on how different she and Rich's tastes are in food and how this might play out in their marriage. My only complaint would be that she spent so much time going over the wedding planning, but the book ...more
Chris Hall
May 12, 2010 Chris Hall rated it really liked it
Great book with a witty and fun style.

It's an interesting look at the fusion of two cultures and two lives as the author and her fiancée move in together and plan their marriage. She focuses on how their relationship changes how she thinks about food and cooking. Along the way she supplies the reader with some great recipes as well (the Stuffed Eggplant is yummilicious!). If you like food and are interested in cooking then this is book is for you. Of course, even if you aren't I think a lot cou
Jan 27, 2010 Ali rated it liked it
Anyone in a relationship will appreciate and relate to the struggles and arguments that arise over dinner.
"What should we eat? Where should we go? You decide. I don't care, you pick." all come out of my mouth at least once a week. It takes reading another couple's compromise to realize that it does not ultimately matter, and to find that it is possible for two people to make food work for their relationship.
Mouthwatering descriptions within the memoir's text are accompanied by a couple of easy
This was a great book that I absorbed in less than 24 hours. It was written well and had a heartwarming feel to it. One thing that I really loved was that this book included some of the recipes that the author wrote about...they look delicious.

The author, Michelle Maisto, had just gotten engaged and was coming to terms wih her future. I loved that she really opened up and asked tough questions about her life; I felt her vulnerablity and strength at the same time. This is a book that I want to ad
Nov 29, 2014 kelsey rated it liked it
From the introduction, where I read this: "I have a clearer sense of what attracts me (in a man),and sitting with a poor eater, the articulated words impotent and emasculated come to me, cruel as they are. Even as a young girl, I sometimes felt a jolt of meanness toward fussy eaters. Being a good eater was a point of pride in my family..." I knew I was going to like this food memoir. There were many more quotable parts, but I'll spare you all. Read this if you enjoy food memoirs. This was simple ...more
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