Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking American
Consuming Passions : A Food-Obsessed Life
West, Michael Lee
Published: April, 2000
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Born in Louisiana and at home in Tennessee, author Michael Lee West makes any old body feel downright welcome at her kitchen table. The coffee's hot, the iced tea is sweet, the cake's a little dry, and the conversation shows no sign of
abating, even as the last page is turned and the cover is closed on Consuming Passions: A Food-Obsessed Life. The subject is variously food, family, and Mama, wherein Mama is as much a state of mind as an embodied soul. This is about the South, honey,
some of which is of the New South stripe, and some of the Old.
In an easy, talkative style, author West spins tales, shares recipes, and hands out advice. In a chapter titled "Funeral Food," she includes recipes for Lemon Chess Pie and Lemon
Squares. Among her rules for funeral food, she notes that dishes must be easy to transport as well as appealing to the bereaved. Some foods are simply inappropriate. "I myself have never seen appetizers at a funeral," West writes. "This is not the time
to bring Better Than Sex Cake or Death by Chocolate. And it's never a good idea to use uncooked eggs in funeral food."
Consuming Passions is about home cooking, about church-basement food, about growing up in the shadow of Mama's kitchen and
learning to cook away from home. West is ever willing to try something new, to fail, to try again, and to defend to her last breath the virtues of her favorite mayonnaise. West has the spirit of a close friend who'll share all her secrets, including her
best recipes, some of which her various family members (we meet them all) failed to take to their graves. Sit down, pull up a chair, and get ready to listen. --Schuyler Ingle--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this
Laced with delicious secret recipes passed from generation to generation, Consuming Passions is Michael Lee West's delightfully quirky memoir of an adventurous food-obsessed life. By watching a multitude of
relatives cook, squabble, and carry on tradition, West went from a noncooking sytudent to a full-on gourmet of food and words. Throughout, she lends her distinctive humor and often hilarious insights to stories about her trials and tribulations as a
Southern woman who became an "accidental gourmet."
In this irresistible memoir, mothers swing from chandeliers, elderly aunts brew love potions, a South American nymphomaniac stirs up trouble at a Louisiana barbecue joint, and a cabbage-eating
ghost haunts relatives--all in pursuit of good food. Using her own experience and the witticisms of relatives, West fills these pages with insights such as "Never share men or recipes. Something's bound to get stolen" and "Live and learn. Die and get
food. That's the Southern way." Wonderfully presented and thouroughly entertaining, this warm and witty work unites West's evocative voice and humor with the uniquely American form of kitchen tales.
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