The Gastronomy of Marriage
A Memoir of Food and Love
By Michelle Maisto
(Random House Trade Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780812979190, 256pp.)
Publication Date: September 8, 2009
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“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.”
When Michelle Maisto meets Rich–like her, a closet writer with a fierce love of books and good food–their single-mindedness at the table draws them together, and meals become a stage for their long courtship. Finally engaged, they move in together, but sitting down to shared meals each night–while working at careers, trying to write, and falling into the routines that come to define a home–soon feels like something far different from their first dinner together.
Who cooks, who shops, who does the dishes? Rich craves the light fare his mother learned to prepare as a girl in China, but Michelle leans toward the hearty dishes her father knew as a boy in Italy. Rich eats meat, but Michelle doesn’t. His metabolism races through carbohydrates, hers holds to them tightly. And while her idea of a quick meal is a fried egg, his is to head to a restaurant. After Rich takes additional work to pay for their wedding, Michelle offers to do his half of the cooking chores–which, along with the newness of their living together, challenges her feelings about the kitchen and what it means to be a modern wife.
As they save and plan for a wedding, the nightly compromises, small generosities, and stubborn stakings of ground that take place around the dinner table offer a context in which Maisto considers what she’s learned from the marriages around her, and what she and Rich might create for themselves.
Michelle Maisto has an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in a number of publications, including The New York Times and Gourmet magazine. She writes and eats in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, Rich, who occasionally does the cooking.
“Michelle Maisto’s tender book traces the journey toward a momentous occasion—her wedding—with honesty, love and vulnerability, all played out before, during and after one mouth-watering meal after another.”—Matt McAllester, author of Bittersweet: Lessons from My Mother’s Kitchen
“The Gastronomy of Marriage is spirited, intimate and great fun. Maisto writes with a vital contemporary frankness that belies a truly romantic spirit. The result is a wonderful marriage.”—Aleksandra Crapanzano, James Beard Award-winning writer
"Perfectly delicious, The Gastronomy of Marriage feeds the mind and soul in every way. Lyrical, fresh, honest and true, Maisto examines the year leading up to her marriage with sincerity and intelligence, shedding new light on the every-day dilemmas modern women face as they seek to nourish themselves and the ones they adore. The recipes, taken from Maisto's Italian-American family and her husband-to-be's Chinese-American heritage, are unique, practical and inviting, and the love story—as American as they come—utterly captivates. A must-read for anyone who has navigated the complicated waters of coupling, from beginning to end."—Kamy Wicoff, author of I Do But I Don't: Why The Way We Marry Matters
“Come for the writing, the insights into family, the understanding of the place food and the act of making it hold in life and memory, and stay for the pastina, the tofu, the cream puffs and the deep affection Michelle and Rich have for one another. A sweet and wise memoir.”—Dorie Greenspan, author of Baking from My Home to Yours
“‘What should we have for dinner?’ can sometimes prove a most provocative question. This book tells the story of combining two lives and two inherited cooking styles (Italian and Chinese) into something new, improvisational, and quintessentially American."—Alix Kates Shulman, author of To Love What Is: A Marriage Transformed