Huge thanks to Jacqueline Cutler for this review in the 12/21/14 Star Ledger.
Laura Zinn Fromm has written a lovely food-based memoir.
by Jacqueline Cutler
“Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking & Coping”
By Laura Zinn Fromm
(Greenpoint Press, 300 pp., $19.95)
I come by my dreadful cooking honestly. My mother’s salmon croquettes could put someone off food permanently. My paternal grandmother made leftover cold spaghetti sandwiches to take to the beach. My uncle, as a toddler, wandered to strangers’ blankets, asking for food.
It’s not an excuse, not at this stage of my life – when AARP is courting me – just an explanation. Happily, I married a wonderful cook. Still, I am sometimes forced into the kitchen. I used to serve my children vegetables, rock frozen, and tell them to suck out the nutrients. I would then hand them the globe and instruct them to locate countries in which people did not have freezers, where I swore the food I gave them would be considered a delicacy.
So for me to be so moved by Laura Zinn Fromm’s absolutely delightful memoir and cookbook, to actually want to venture into the kitchen to do something besides brew another pot of coffee, speaks legions to her abilities. In fact, as I write this, my husband is grocery shopping and I requested several items because I am going to try her recipes.
The delight is not limited to the recipes, though she should be lauded because they are comprehensible, even to someone like me who always has to look up what sauté means. The delight is in her very personal essays.
Her writing is open and, as with memoirs with recipes, she combines moments of her life with certain foods. It’s fun, and my sole complaint is that because these pieces originally ran in different publications, there’s too much repetition about her family, a very interesting collection of people. Different anecdotes are great, but explaining them as if she’s introducing them each time is not.
There are wonderful insights into food and she credits those who have taught her, in their kitchens, in classes and in books. Admittedly, Fromm had me at the table of contents because of the chapter on existential tuna. How do you not love a book with that as a chapter?