Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lover's Courtship, with Recipes

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Overview

Life in the city, love, and unforgettable meals—can a food writer find happiness with a man who has an empty refrigerator?

Amanda Hesser's irresistible new book is the tale of a romance where food is the source of discovery, discord, and delight—a story of universal desires: good food, great company, and a mate.

At each stage of her courtship—from her first date with Mr. Latte (a near-disaster) to her first uneasy dinner at his parents' home, ...

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Overview

Life in the city, love, and unforgettable meals—can a food writer find happiness with a man who has an empty refrigerator?

Amanda Hesser's irresistible new book is the tale of a romance where food is the source of discovery, discord, and delight—a story of universal desires: good food, great company, and a mate.

At each stage of her courtship—from her first date with Mr. Latte (a near-disaster) to her first uneasy dinner at his parents' home, from intimate suppers in her Upper West Side apartment to his first attempt at cooking for her—Amanda supplies menus for the meals they share: more than one hundred well-balanced and well-seasoned recipes that will leave you satisfied yet wanting more.

With warmth and honesty, Amanda shares her feasts and foibles, triumphs and near-misses, tense encounters and good times in the kitchen and beyond. Her humorous, sensuous tale leads us date by date, recipe by recipe, to a jubilant conclusion. 42 b/w illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In her wonderful debut cookbook, The Cook and the Gardener, Hesser, a food reporter for the New York Times, followed a year in the life of the kitchen garden at Chateau du Fey in Burgundy, where she worked as a cook. Hesser created four seasons of exquisitely simple recipes that inspired readers to consider the life of the land. More than that, however, she chronicled the gentle, patient way she earned the trust of the crusty, tradition-bound gardener, Monsieur Milbert. Now Hesser attempts to adapt the same organizing strategy to her roughly yearlong courtship of the handsome and talented Mr. Latte, aka New Yorker writer Tad Friend. Weaving recipes within her narrative, she presents a Sex and the City tale with dining and food subbing for sex. Readers join her as she jets to Rome and Spain, or enjoys New York dinner parties with the likes of Tama Janowitz or a crowd of stylish young urban achievers, culminating in Hesser's own wonderful engagement party and wedding. While the eclectic recipes collected here show sensitivity and taste, the spirit of gentle appreciation that gave Hesser's first book such charm is missing. Indeed, the text here comes across as shallow and lacking in wisdom (as evidenced, for example, by her telling a friend of a friend of Friend's that lunch at Jean Georges, a swank Manhattan restaurant, is "not bad... probably $100" only to be reprimanded that her lunch companion, a visitor from India, makes only $2 a day). The pervasive feeling of superficiality and calculation is compounded by the cutesy cartoons of Hesser as a sleek, big-eyed little doll. Self-promotion has its uses, but perhaps it should also have its limits-though this book will decidedly get some play among the socially, and culinarily, ambitious. 6-city author tour. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
A food writer for the New York Times Magazine, Hesser has compiled her columns into a single volume that recalls Candace Bushnell's Sex and the City. It has the same Manhattan locale, the same expensive tastes, and a similarly named shadowy male love interest Hesser calls "Mr. Latte." (The name comes from his insistence on committing a foodie faux pas-ordering coffee with milk after dinner instead of an espresso.) Each chapter details a memorable meal and includes a few recipes, often with tips and comments from the host or chef. A few resources are given for some of the more exotic ingredients. The story itself is slight, as Hesser reveals few details of their actual courtship and does not even refer to Mr. Latte by name until they are engaged. Her comments are often disparaging, and even her grandmother's cooking does not escape critical judgment. Serious foodies may enjoy the tales of scandalously expensive ingredients and fabulous meals in exclusive restaurants, but readers outside the Manhattan restaurant scene will find the name-dropping tedious. For large, urban public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/03.]-Julie James, Thomasville P.L., NC Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Recipes, restaurant critiques, and food lore--all agreeably season New York Times food writer Hesser’s beguiling story of her two loves: food and the initially unpromising Mr. Latte. The author’s early reservations about this handsome guy can best be appreciated by urban sophisticates, who will share Hesser’s chagrin as she finds herself keeping company with a man who ends his meal with a latte and sweetens it with Equal. (Espresso sweetened naturally with cane sugar would be culinarily correct.) Their first date is arranged by a mutual friend, and Hesser is not impressed by the venue, a noisy restaurant that serves beer in bottles. She is rather attracted to Mr. Latte, also known as New Yorker writer Tad Friend, even if he does order a Budweiser; he will simply have to be reformed, she decides, if the relationship is to continue. Their courtship and his culinary education go hand in hand as Hesser charts food experiences ranging from restaurants to dinners with respective friends and families. Each chapter, about food as much as romance, includes recipes. These too play to an urban sensibility, as well as the urban ease in acquiring ingredients not always available in the average supermarket (fennel fronds, sheep’s milk yogurt, salt cod, etc.), but Hesser also tells readers how to make such down-home items as fried-bologna sandwiches, rhubarb pie, and fried chicken. The romance proceeds at a stately pace as the author describes visits on assignment or accompanying family to places like Spain, Italy, and North Dakota (where she hopes to learn how honey is made). Soon Mr. Latte shows signs of improvement--his mother is, after all, an excellent cook--as he talks about food and critiques newrestaurants. But though he proposes, he also has some changes in mind, and there are a few bumpy moments ahead before his education and hers are complete. A yummy treat even for fans of Sanka and Michelob. Author tour
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393051964
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/19/2003
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 8.66 (h) x 1.23 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Love this Book

    I picked up a used copy at the Paramus. NJ B&N store. I collect cookbooks but to have a story to go with each of the recipies is just the best. The book is a collection of short stories, and I just loved it.
    The nice thing is when you are done with the book you can go back and try some of the recpies.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2005

    Overrated

    Amanda Hesser has been hailed as the next great American food writer since MFK Fisher. That's probably fair, because Fisher was boring too. I don't think I've ever read the story of an engagement that came off as flat as Hesser's does. It may be some sort of desire to be Hemingwayesque, but her writing just doesn't convey any of the pizazz of cooking that keeps so many of us going back to the kitchen. The recipes aren't terribly interesting, either-- it's lemon zest and creme fraiche over and over again. Trendy, yes. Cookable, no.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2004

    Didn't Want It To End

    This is one of those books that I hated putting down, but would force myself to do so anyway because I truly didn't want the book to end. I'd read some of the recipes aloud to my husband and we'd both start to drool. I also found myself completely involved in the story of their relationship, their struggles, and their ultimate happy ending.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2003

    It must be me!

    This is an excellent read, but the recipes haven't turned out as delicious as I had hoped. Of course, Ms. Hesser/Friend would probably blame it on me or my ingredients. The choclote dump-it cake wasn't as great as I expected. I found her to be quite irritating towards the end of the book. Not just a food snob, but a snob snob. I didn't think they would ever get marry because Mr. Latte could't wash the dishes the way she liked.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2003

    Go for this one!

    Am glad I read this book before reading the somewhat negative reviews. Comments quoted from Publishers Weekly etc. seem so off base, ignoring Hesser's light touch and sense of humor. Each chapter is fun, and just long enough to inspire a trip to the kitchen to try a new receipe (carefully written to inspire confidence in a novice while providing helpful hints for the most experienced cook). She is a fabulous writer!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2003

    what a wonderful book!

    I loved reading this diary/ recipe book and have tried a few recipes from it. The oven fried chicken was fabulous and there are many more recipes I cannot wait to try, like the dump it chocolate cake. This book is perfect, and is a combination of my favourite types of books: recipes with stories.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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