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Life Is Meals: A Food Lover's Book of Days

de James Salter

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278678,313 (3.85)6
From the award-winning author James Salter and his wife, Kay - amateur chefs and terrific hosts - here is a lively, beautifully illustrated food lover's companion. With an entry for each day of the year, Life Is Meals takes us from a Twelfth Night cake in January to a champagne dinner on New Year's Eve. This is a book rich with culinary wisdom, history, recipes, literary pleasures, and the authors' own stories of their triumphs - and catastrophes - in the kitchen. Entries include:The menu on the Titanic on the fatal night The seductiveness of a velvety Brie or the perfect martini How to decide whom to invite to a dinner party - and whom not to The greatest dinner ever given at the White House Where in Paris Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter had French onion soup at 4:00 a.m. How to cope with acts of god and man-made disasters in the kitchenSophisticated, practical, opinionated and indispensable, Life Is Meals is a tribute to the glory of food and drink, and the joy of sharing them with others.… (més)
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This is a great concept and collection authored by the esteemed writers James Salter and his wife Kay (Eldredge). It originated conceptually from their own "dinner book" of keeping track of meals they prepared and hosted in their Aspen home. That evolved from simple meal lists and tweaked recipes to include anecdotes, reflections on the guests, commentary on the occasion and all manner of personal record to become quite a family keepsake. That in itself is a great idea - if I entertained more or rubbed elbows with famous people regularly. This edition is more generic, though it includes some stories unique to their family (the birth of their son and rubbing his lips with wine, friends who reciprocated recipes, travel food, etc) but here each day includes a short entry on the history of a food, a famous dinner party, literary or historical figure, a tried and true recipe or etiquette tip. Not a cover to cover read, but a great resource/gift/entertainment for a bookish foodie fan. ( )
  CarrieWuj | Oct 24, 2020 |
James and Kay Salter loved food and they thought about it a lot. Early in their marriage, the celebrated writers began keeping a notebook detailing recipes they had prepared and dinner parties they had hosted. Over the years, this grew into something closer to a food journal, which was expanded considerably to include insightful entries on the history of numerous products (e.g., pizza, cheese, fruit, foie gras, alcohol, fish and fowl), famous or memorable restaurants, and the contributions of many notable individuals (e.g., Bocuse, Jefferson, Waters, Escoffier, Beard, Balzac, Child). Life is Meals is the published version of that project. Constructed as a series of short vignettes, the book is organized by months and days throughout an entire calendar year. Where relevant, the authors insert these stories in appropriate spots, whether describing seasonal meals or the day on which someone was born or a significant event occurred.

Any food lover will find a lot to savor in this volume, particularly in the historical discussions of long-forgotten people, places, and dishes. Still, reading the journal is not likely to be an unambiguously enjoyable experience, which was certainly the case for me. The main problem, I think, is that beyond its clever framing device, the book lacks a unifying premise—it really comes across as a lengthy collection of random trivia—as well as being a little too France-centric. Beyond that, the myriad recipes are often too terse (and, sometimes, vague) to be useful to most home cooks and the Salters’ frequent reminiscences of past meals they shared with friends lacked context and had the character of looking at someone else’s vacation photos. Overall, though, Life is Meals is very much the labor of a lifetime love affair and it is worthy of consumption for that reason alone, even if it is a feast better sampled than swallowed whole. ( )
  browner56 | Nov 8, 2018 |
I first heard about this book on the Book Riot podcast, and it sounded like something I would definitely enjoy: a book written by food lovers about food? Sign me up! I got a used hardcover edition with a nice little ribbon attached for a bookmark (I love books that have that), and the illustrations are beautiful (I wish there were more of them; the painted food looks better than real life).

The Salters arranged this book so that there is one subject for each of the 365 days in the year (366 actually, since they included February 29), and you can read it day by day or, like me, devour it (har har) in a couple of sittings. They talk about famous historical figures in food, the origins of certain food items, events in history surrounding food, great places to eat, and of course, their own experiences with hosting dinner parties and other personal life events surrounding food. They also provide several delicious recipes. I learned a lot from this book, and a couple times got very hungry as a result of reading it. The only qualm I have is that they often suggest foods, wines, and restaurants that are very expensive or require a passport to get to, which makes my student-loan-paying self very sad. But it is nice to have all of these places in one book, so if I do find myself traveling in France or Italy later in life, I'll know where to go. ( )
1 vota kaylaraeintheway | Jun 7, 2015 |
It's sweet, and cute, and some of the information, fascinating (the risotto recipe is good, and simple enough to remember), but I kept being a little creeped out by how Jim is consistenly cast as the older-and-wiser of the two of them, and Kay is always the one in need of teaching. They've been married, like, thirty years, and that's one hell of a power imbalance to live with for thirty years. ::judges:: MY PRECONCEPTIONS, LET ME SHOW YOU THEM. ( )
  cricketbats | Mar 30, 2013 |
This book is a miscellanea of food writing. Each day has a separate entry, where the entry can be a recipe, reminiscences of the author's memorable meals, or other food-related entries. ( )
  willyt | Mar 16, 2008 |
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From the award-winning author James Salter and his wife, Kay - amateur chefs and terrific hosts - here is a lively, beautifully illustrated food lover's companion. With an entry for each day of the year, Life Is Meals takes us from a Twelfth Night cake in January to a champagne dinner on New Year's Eve. This is a book rich with culinary wisdom, history, recipes, literary pleasures, and the authors' own stories of their triumphs - and catastrophes - in the kitchen. Entries include:The menu on the Titanic on the fatal night The seductiveness of a velvety Brie or the perfect martini How to decide whom to invite to a dinner party - and whom not to The greatest dinner ever given at the White House Where in Paris Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter had French onion soup at 4:00 a.m. How to cope with acts of god and man-made disasters in the kitchenSophisticated, practical, opinionated and indispensable, Life Is Meals is a tribute to the glory of food and drink, and the joy of sharing them with others.

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