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LIFE, ON THE LINE is a memoir published in 2011 by Gotham Books: one of the best American Chefs of all times, Grant Achatz, owner of the sophisticated and famous Chicago restaurant opened in 2005, “Alinea“, tells his unbelievable story of outstanding success in the culinary world intertwined with a harsh battle against cancer. It could be a story like many others, what it makes it so special is that he is diagnosed with a type of cancer that will affect his career forever, impairing him of the ability to taste: tongue cancer. Terrified of his lack of taste as a side effect of aggressive treatment (“food tasted like cardboard”) but still able to smell, Grant finds the motivation to rebuild his fabulous career one step at a time thanks to his love for cooking as a fine art expression. The memoir ends with the plan of opening of a new restaurant called “Next”, as a promise to fight all the odds and keep on with excellence, uniqueness and passion… will he manage?
DAY OF HONEY, published by Free Press in 2011, can be seen as a memoir of how people sit around the table for dinner during the war.
Annia Ciezadlo, of Greek origins, American by birth, and married to an Arabian, writes a spectacular cross-cultural memoir of her years spent between Iraq and Lebanon in 2003-2009, when the sectarian violence of Baghdad spreads to Beirut. In spite of her journalistic style and her love for accurate documentation, she really manages to leave historical facts and events in the background most of the time and bring forward the daily life of common people, especially in relation to traditional foods, meals and cooking styles. Food and meals are central in the war context, both as a source of comfort from the grief of war and as a reason of added despair when food is scarse. It’s not only a matter of eating for surviving but also celebrating birthdays, holidays, traditions and events: daily life cannot be the same if foods are hard to find. Annia Ciezadlo offers a very unique, intimate and insightful perspective on the food topic given by her ability to compare and integrate the multiple cultures she has internalized through her lifetime.
DAY OF HONEY can be dramatic, violent, intimate, poetic, narrative, informational and funny at the same time. For sure it is mouthwatering, and will make you crave for Middle Eastern cuisine!
Listen to interview with Annia Ciezadlo
What would childhood be without the velvet fragrances and creamy flavors coming from a mother’s kitchen? Isn’t the warmth of her oven like a goodnight kiss? Aren’t the surprising and reassuring flavors of her meals like soft arms embracing you? Young boy Nigel Slater is constantly looking for that bond between food and love in his own young life never to find it. He goes through childhood like an acrobat on an uncertain rope, high in the air, with no safety net underneath: hunger for food and hunger for love alternate constantly in Nigel’s story, and remain unbalanced. These basic needs of love and good food seem to be responded to periodically, but never at the same time: from his loving mother’s depressing cuisine he is forced into his cold and distant stepmother’s sublime masterpieces in the kitchen. Nonetheless, Nigel manages to find stability in his own love for food and cooking : adult Nigel Slater, chef and food writer, looks back at the first years of his life with the innocent eyes of a child, revealing enchanted memories of his British home pantry, family culinary traditions, and sharing unique recipes.
TOAST: THE STORY OF A BOY’S HUNGER, published by Gotham Books in 2003, is a mix of memoir, cookbook and pure poetry. Very unique, a must-read!