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Bittersweet: Lessons from My Mother's Kitchen
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Bittersweet: Lessons from My Mother's Kitchen

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3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  68 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Denise Kruse
One of the best memoirs I’ve read. As a boy of ten, Matt McAllester essentially lost his mother to a combination of sadness, alcoholism and mental illness. He had ten “good” years with her before she disintegrates. Her death at age 62 spurs him to reconnect to the vibrant, intelligent, nurturing memory of her, especially drawing on his recollections of their shared love of the best food and its “classic” preparation. Set mostly in Edinburgh with jaunts here and there, it captivates.

I love how th
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Melissa
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Shonna Froebel
This short memoir is written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist McAllester about his mother and his relationship with her. His early childhood was happy, full of delicious food, family togetherness and love. But when Matt was around the age of 10, his mother began to decline into mental illness and alcoholism. He felt that she was lost to him for two decades. Then, although her health was still bad, a connection was restored in the last few years before her sudden death.
Despite his experie
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Catherine
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Holly
The subtitle of this book ("lessons from my mother's kitchen") is misleading. This book is not primarily, nor mainly, nor even significantly about cooking. As the subtitle is the reason I chose the book from the library, you can imagine my disappointment.

I also didn't like the way he handled his wife's two (possibly three) failed attempts, through IVF, to have a child: he threw himself into learning about his recently deceased mother's mental illness and into cooking (which he somewhat successf
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Cookbookjj
I loved the story and wow, the excellent writing.

Following the death of his mother, Mr. MCallester works through his relationship with his food-loving mother whose psychiatric problems progressively worsened. He relives much of their food life together including cooking through his mother's all-time favorite cookbooks; especially Elizabeth David.

If you are the introspective type this book would be engaging for you. If not so introspective, it may be that there is not enough "action" to keep yo
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Molly Mahony
I love memoirs. This is well written and certainly articulates the emotions one has regarding a loved one suffering from mental instabilities and/or illness. The cooking aspect is terrific.

As I was reading this I thought how wonderfully lucky I am to live in Ann Arbor and have librarians that know how to select great books for me, and the community at large.

Thank you librarians!
Lauren
I feel a little misled. I thought this would be a novel about food and cooking (since I bought it at the James Beard book sale), but really its the author's out-loud coming-to-terms with his mother's mental illness and eventual death. Not so appetizing.

On the plus side, there is a good recipe for strawberry ice cream hidden in its pages.
Liana
Dec 21, 2009 Liana rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cathy Ikeda
Recommended to Liana by: Mai Rutherford
This book was written by a war correspondent, a Pulitzer prize winning war correspondent, I believe. His mother died and in his sorrow and in an attempt to heal the hurt, he turns to the memories of his mother in the kitchen. He learns to cook and learns to come to terms with her mental illness and his relationship with her.
Sarah
This book seemed to be more about memories of his mother than cooking. I do understand how cooking played a part in triggering those memories, however, after picking this out of the cooking memoir section, I expected to hear more about cooking and less about a crazy mother. Overall an okay book.
Psirene
I have a bipolar mom who cooked off and on until I left for college and now has problems remembering what goes in a simple dish. This book was very close to home except that my mother has food addictions vs a drink addiction. I would highly recommend it for lovers of food.
Joyce Hildebrand
Easily read. In particular, I enjoyed the stories he told of his boyhood, then his mothers descent into madness. I didnt identify with the passion for fine cooking but I certainly understood its connection and significance.
Sarah
I forgot I don't really like memoirs because they tend to be about depressing/dysfunctional childhoods. This was one of those. His mom had mental illness compounded with alcoholism. Sad.
Country Mum
Interesting and thought provoking but long descriptions of food preparations distracted from the most interesting parts of the book
Heather
I loved the premise of this book--coping with loss by revisiting and remembering the the past, with food as a contributing character.
Diana
Made me want to read Elizabeth David from beginning to end and start cooking again. Very moving book and very well written.
Lupine
Not bad. Does have one of the best descriptions I have ever heard about how it feels to have a parent die on page 9.
Traci Mckay
A very good mix of anger and nostalgia that being a child of a mentally ill parent would bring
Kristy Lee
Good story. Different. Loved the use of food and great family photos. Good writing too.
Uma
May 05, 2009 Uma marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Newsweek gave it a solid review. Lets see how it really turns out....
Jennifer Sutton
Jennifer Sutton marked it as to-read
Oct 20, 2014
Melissa
Melissa marked it as to-read
Aug 19, 2014
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