Drzal, freelance writer and one-time cookbook editor, charmingly reflects on her life with food. In chapters arranged by food name from A to Z, Drzal examines her personality, relationships, and professional encounters. She recalls the sound of her grandmother beating an egg or the steam from her father’s sizzling kielbasa on a Sunday morning. Her voice is honest and approachable as she shares the messy side of her work in the food business, such as when she served pheasant and sauerkraut to her idol M.F.K. Fisher, who commented “This has no taste, dear” and then choked after biting into the pheasant’s leg. When working with Josefina Howard, the “force of nature” behind the New York restaurant Rosa Mexicano, Drzal recalls how the restaurateur kicked out a cookbook editor who didn’t know who Noel Coward was. Throughout, she includes a few recipes for such unexpected items as gruel (with amaranth, almond milk, and hemp seed) and urab sayur, a Balinese salad of bean sprouts, coconut and lemongrass. Drzal artfully demonstrates how certain meals, no matter how simple or ornate, can resonate for years. (Oct.)
"Evocative . . . Drzal traces the delicate emotions packed into a scene with the precision of a miniaturist. She is particularly skilled at conveying the quality of pleasure taken in the face of loss . . . [and has] a knack for metaphors so perfect as to seem inevitable."
—New York Times Book Review, "Editors' Choice"
"A memoir along the lines of M.F.K. Fisher's epic epicurean book, The Gastronomical Me."—BeautifulNow, "Most Beautiful New Memoirs"
“Sumptuous . . . Employing various dishes or meals as Proustian madeleines, the author dives into the sensuous experiences of her life.”—Booklist
"The elusive feelings come and go and leave readers hungry by association, as Drzal strongly connects intimacy with eating, offering portraits of who she chooses to share meals with, recalling the influence of M.F.K. Fisher."—Library Journal
“Drzal artfully demonstrates how certain meals, no matter how simple or ornate, can resonate for years.”—Publishers Weekly
"Dawn Drzal may not be a household name, though that could soon change. Her new food memoir, The Bread and the Knife: A Life in 26 Bites, checks all the right boxes: It offers great storytelling, memorable foods, and essential life lessons imparted from the kitchen."—Portland Press Herald
“Sumptuous, sensuous . . . Drzal is a gifted storyteller who mixes humor and pathos as deftly as whisking scrambled eggs. . . . The Bread and the Knife joins the ranks of my other favorites in the cooking and food memoir genre, . . . I loved it .”—Books is Wonderful
“A deeply engaging collection of beautifully written story essays in which food triggers memory in a Proustian way.”—topcookbox.com
“Each of the twenty-six brief, glowing chapters in this book unwraps a food memory . . . arranged A to Z, and you'll wish the alphabet had more letters just so Dawn Drzal would keep on writing.”—Laura Shapiro, author of What She Ate, Julia Child, Something from the Oven, and Perfection Salad
“Dawn Drzal has captured the joy and poetry of feeding and being fed—loving and being loved, however imperfectly. The Bread and the Knife is a lexicon of life and the food that sustains us through each joy and sorrow. I want to spend hours in her pages and at her table.”—Giulia Melucci, author of I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti
"Dawn Drzal's The Bread and the Knife is a refreshingly honest book, self-reflective, and funny. Drzal is an apt storyteller, and her memories are vivid enough to keep you turning pages. Plus, the recipe for white borscht alone is worth the price of the book.”—Tamar Adler, author of An Everlasting Meal and Something Old, Something New
"Food expresses our bounty and generosity, love of family and friends, sure. But food is also inextricably wound up in regret, fear, betrayal and failure, which is harder to swallow (as it were.) Drzal capture how the pleasures and frustrations of providing sustenance for one's loved ones and oneself seep into all of our painful, wondrous human experiences. Spanning the globe yet never straying from the intimacy of the simplest of meals, The Bread and the Knife cuts into the stuff of life, both the dramatic and the prosaic, and the stuff of sustenance is the blade."—Julie Powell, author of Julie and Julia and Cleaving
“What I love about The Bread and the Knife is how food inserts itself into our lives, lingering to be recalled when needed. While this is Dawn Drzal’s personal story, it makes me think that surely we must all have our own versions of how food walks in and out of our lives along with loves and losses.” —Deborah Madison, author of Vegetable Literacy and In My Kitchen
Essayist and former cookbook editor Drzal's food-based memoir features short pieces organized by letters of the alphabet (e.g., A is for Al Dente, B is for Bernaise, etc.) of remembrances, both good and bad, emotionally intertwined with meals. Many different types of cuisine or snacks are described, from an Indian breakfast to kielbasa to Jordan Almonds (at the movies). A few wide-ranging recipes include gruel, stromboli stuffing, urab sayur, with one of the most vivid recollections being her grandmother's scrambled eggs, which she could never replicate. After a dinner party she recalls, "the moment time stood still and I was suddenly suffused with the unassailable certainty that all was right in the world." The elusive feelings come and go and leave readers hungry by association, as Drzal strongly connects intimacy with eating, offering portraits of who she chooses to share meals with, recalling the influence of M.F.K. Fisher. VERDICT For fans of memoir and food lit.—Barbara Kundanis, Longmont P.L., CO