Books I read for Elle Magazine February 2010

1. Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard (my favorite)
2. The Butcher & the Vegetarian: One Woman’s Romp through a World of Men, Meat, and Moral Crisis by Tara Austen Weaver
3. Keeping the Feast: One Couple’s Story of Love, Food, and Healing in Italy by Paula Butturini (my least favorite)

Elizabeth Bard navigates her way through the twisted maze of French culture in Lunch in Paris. I really enjoyed this book, at times both devouring and savoring it like one of the mouth-watering dishes she describes. I laughed. I cried. It’s not easy moving abroad, but Bard ends up finding a soul mate and herself in the process. This is the perfect read for Valentine’s Day, whether you are part of a couple or still looking for The One. Ce’ magnifique!

Usually a doctor tells a patient to stop eating meat. Yet Tara Austen Weaver’s The Butcher & the Vegetarian turns this advice on its head. At times, I found the subject matter grotesque and disjointed yet it also gave me something to chew on. Abused as a young girl and again as a young woman, the author had no control of her body or of the world around her. What she could control was the food she ate. Eating meat was foreign and unnatural to Weaver, a vegetarian since birth. She truly suffered when she lost that one part of life in which she had a say. One caveat: after reading Weaver, you may decide to become a vegetarian.

Keeping the Feast: One Couple’s Story of Love, Food, and Healing in Italy by Paula Butturini was my least favorite book of the three. It was, in a word, depressing. Yet, I applaud Butturini for baring it all and leaving nothing out. That took courage, especially given the fact that her husband’s accident and depression were not easy subjects to address. The only bright light in the story was the birth of her daughter, Julia. Sometimes I felt as if I were reading two separate books here–one about Butturini’s childhood and the other about the tragedy and aftermath. There was no bridge between the two and it was frustrating. I did love one thing, though, and that was how Italy itself became a character in this story. Read this and you just may be tempted to book a flight this spring.

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