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2.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  153 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
Jason Epstein, legendary publisher of Norman Mailer and Vladimir Nabokov, editor of such great chefs and bakers as Alice Waters and Wolfgang Puck, takes us on a culinary tour through his eventful life.

From the great restaurants of postwar Paris to the narrow streets of New York’s Chinatown today; from a New Year’s dinner aboard the old Ile de France with Buster Keaton to a
Paperback, 192 pages
Published October 19th 2010 by Anchor (first published 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 376)
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Really 2 1/2-3 stars.

A review from "Newsweek" on the cover says, "An unpretentious chronicle of an extraordinary life well lived." Unpretentious? Um, I don't think so. Epstein, an editor with Random House, has worked with some of the finest writers including Norman Mailer and Nabokov and edited Alice Waters's cookbooks, a definite name dropper. Unpretentious he is not. We hear he went to Columbia at least twice, he has a penthouse in Manhattan and a house in Sag Harbor, he lived next door to Cra
Kristen Northrup
This is a very small book, not only a thin one. But although I was thus warned that it would be brief, it was still disappointingly so. Epstein stays away from outright gossip, for which I am grateful, but I really could have used more anecdotes. Easily a third of the text is (tasty) recipes, most involving lobster. There's also a pretty creepy story about a lobster dinner. I will definitely need to try adding duck fat to a burger. There's a chapter on M.F.K. Fisher (recounting her own memoirs; ...more
Apr 08, 2010 Autumn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book felt very much like a vanity memoir. The author name drops and gives the reader a number of unnecessary recipes, but doesn't have much to say about publishing, or food, that hasn't been said better before. No narrative, no poetry, no panache.
Sarah Embil
Dec 13, 2014 Sarah Embil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fabulous. An amalgam of biography, cookbook, history, and personal little gems all tied up together. The details of his experiences enjoying food with others whom we all know from different areas of history are simply delicious. After finishing this book, I wanted nothing more than to make my own lobster roll and sit in a sunny window. I read this on a road trip and found myself reading it aloud to my husband, the driver, as Mr. Epstein's experiences traversed into the lives of other mid-20th ce ...more
Dec 28, 2009 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food
This is a beautiful, very personal memoir built within a framework of recipes and meals fondly remembered.
Jul 14, 2011 Trish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this a couple of years ago in one or two sittings. It is a wonderful summer read: literate and memorable. Epstein, once a titan of the publishing world, has such a wide range of interests, friends, capabilities, that reading this book is like sitting in his kitchen, chin in hand, the sun slanting in, while he talks and putters, making a tarte, perhaps, or a blueberry pie. That he makes it just a little differently from your mother's is just curious, not catastrophic. I don't know quite wh ...more
Mar 09, 2012 Heather rated it liked it
Recommended to Heather by: Megan
I started this book feeling a little grumpy: when I finish reading a novel and pick up a work of nonfiction, it requires a little adjustment—and maybe this is especially true when switching from a novel to episodic nonfiction like this book. Eating started not as a book but as a recipe column in the Style section of The New York Times, and it feels it: it's not exactly a chronological memoir, as Epstein goes from talking about Paris circa 1954 in one chapter to lobsters in the next to cooking Ch ...more
Aug 14, 2011 Evelyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OK, full confession: I'm a a sucker for gastro-memoirs. I love reading about food, food prep, meal consumption and even menu planning. If the author has led a really intriguing life, and/or eaten amazingly diverse and even oddball foods in interesting locations, even better. And if there are a few accessible recipes thrown in, including some things I might even be able to duplicate, or at the very least learn from, my reading experience is complete.

Jason Epstein, who for many years was the edito
Melise Gerber
I got this book from the library--I tend to scroll through the listings of e-books available at the library and just randomly choose books that I think might be interesting--what the heck, they are free and I can always delete them with a click of the button--I don't even need to return to the library!

Anyway, I selected this book, started to read, and then realized that I had read the book once before. As I read through it for the second time, I enjoyed all the same things I enjoyed the first ti
Joanne  Clarke Gunter
I liked this book and have read many foodie/chef books, but you would think that such a famous editor and publisher would have written a longer and better organized book. At a mere 165 pages, the book is slight, but the annoying thing is that there is hardly any demarcation between the author's written words and his recipes. They just sort of run together with the recipes in darker type. Plus, the recipes aren't that exact and I'm not sure the average cook could reproduce them. Still, I always e ...more
Nov 16, 2015 Salvatore rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The memoir itself is pretty useless and more airy than a well risen soufflé. The recipes themselves look interesting, notably the seafood. He really wants you not to fear killing lobsters.
Jan 02, 2010 Kimmae rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
I wanted to hear more about eating and recipes not publishing and old restaurants and old recipes that I've seen before. I'm all for memoirs with recipes but this is more for someone who actually likes Epstein or maybe old NYC restaurants and not just generally food. Other reviewers keep saying that this isn't just a cookbook and I think I'd have liked it more if it was just a cookbook. This feels like the kind of book that you'd write to leave to your children and family who know you and not th ...more
Apr 30, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An old guy writes about his life through food. What's not to love?
Keri Daskam
Dec 09, 2009 Keri Daskam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: year-7
This book was a great interim nonfiction between the classics. It was short, funny, and all about great food with great people. Jason Epstein has lived the kind of life and known the kind of people that made reading this book a little reminiscent of "A Moveable Feast" which is maybe my all time good food/good people book.

The recipes are super interesting and written in a conversational style. They lean heavily to seafood specific to the Northeast, but I will definitely remind myself of them if
Jun 23, 2014 Tammy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Meh. Probably wouldn't read it again or recommend it to anyone. The writing was okay, but felt like I was being talked down to a bit because I had experienced all of these fancy food places, cuisines, or people.
Dec 18, 2009 Alyce rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This could have been so much more. Epstein enjoyed an interesting life as the editorial director of Random House and he can be quite entertaining. He really shines when he is describing old New York, Maine, and the Cape, or sharing anecdotes about his interaction with the likes of Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer. But even if you are able to overlook the hackneyed food "facts" and ambiguous recipes, the redundancies may drive you mad.
This editor is in desperate need of an editor.

Niya B
Jul 09, 2013 Niya B rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's refreshing to see editors write books. The concise prose, the economy of words, the efficiently conveyed feelings are such a refreshing change from the adjective heavy text that can drag food memoirs to a grueling pace, eventually causing them to stall. While not all the recipes are ones I would cook, the story behind each, the location specific information woven with history and key personalities in the food scene make for an easy and engaging read.
Epstein was an important figure in the publishing industry. I’m pretty confident that assisted in his book getting published.

He offers a few brief thoughts on some well-known people who are his friends or acquaintances and pads out the book with unstructured recipes and very few details about his personal life.

There wasn’t enough substance to be book worthy for me. It was a super quick read but overall disappointing.
Tara Evans
Aug 12, 2014 Tara Evans rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
ugh. just awful.

cookbooks are better.

recipes on eggs. and pasta with clam sauce. ugh, gee thanks, that was a tough one.
Feb 20, 2013 Charlotte rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written as only the editor of Random House could write his memoir. The book is spiced with wondrous tid-bits of cooking & eating . His enthusiasm for all things food shines through this sometimes tender, all times candid little charmer. Who knew about "strattu"? My copy is copiously flagged with post-its, mostly marking great recipes to try.
Aug 08, 2010 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
for food and publishing/literary nerds. i doubt i'll make many of the recipes (heavy on the lobster, the oysters and the frying) but it was a great read. glimpse at the bygone days of the book business (martini lunches not mentioned but implied; jackie o and gore vidal make appearances). i really wanted to go to some of these parties.
Alise (Read Write Repeat)
Read my full thoughts over at Read.Write.Repeat.

Sadly, I have to chalk this one up to a genre failure. I will be back for plenty more food-based memoirs, but not from Epstein. The book doesn't have much actual content and I struggled to connect with Epstein.
Adeline Myers
Reading his recipes is like listing to him talk at a dinner table. A quick read, with some good menus and a publisher's who's who in the food writing world. On a few occasions, mainly the east coast seafood bits, his food experiences really hit home for me. Creating a yearning for steamer clams that has not been satiated yet.
Jamie Greenheck
Dec 29, 2009 Jamie Greenheck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jason Epstein lived a life I would love to live. It was different era. The book left me wanting to know more, though. There are some nuggets, including my new favorite quote (by J.T. Peete): "Pray for peace and grace and spiritual food, for wisdom and guidance, for all these are good, but don't forget the potatoes."
Aug 11, 2010 Amanda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So pretentious! The author clearly states that he's writer and not a chef, but he sure does command you to cook things like a chef. I understand that this is a memoir, but Epstein clearly lived a privileged life that he is quick to brag about. His writing style was to abrasive for me to even finish the entire book!
Anuradha Murphy
This book is filled with good recipes, each one accompanied with background details of childhood memories, friends/family who shared the meal, and where many of the ingredients came from. A treat to read about someone who enjoys the process of acquiring, cooking, and eating good food!
Donna DeKeyrel
Nov 30, 2009 Donna DeKeyrel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It had such a great review in Newsweek that I got a copy right away. Sadly...I really had to force myself to finish it. I thought he had a few little stories that were nice....but his writing style was very boring. I was not even tempted by his recipes.
Oct 04, 2010 Kristin marked it as cantfinish  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this, I really did, but it was such a very difficult read. Not really something you can sit down and read - I think it functions more as a recipe book (without measurements?). This is all very strange considering he's a well-known editor.
Though I did enjoy this book, I felt it was only an appetizer to what could have been a glorious meal. "Please sir, can I get some more?"

I will definitely try some of the recipes, especially the lobster rolls. They sound delicious.
Dec 29, 2009 Jane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The review in the Washington Post made me want to read this book, but it's for a different reader than my humble self! This man knows important people and cooks important food (mostly seafood) using recipes I'd never dare try. O well!
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