“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.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
- Random House Publishing Group, September 2009
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