2.19.2010

Foodie Book Friday: Making Toast


Amy writes:

Lately, I've been thinking about loss. A good friend is facing the impending loss of her cousin to cancer. Several have lost, or are on the verge of losing, their jobs. Chris and I lost our beloved cat, Stanley, last week, the suddenness of which has blindsided me and, if I were to be honest, sent me into a mild depression. I realize that losing a family member is much different from losing a job, which in turn is different from losing a pet, nonetheless, all of these are a loss to those involved.

While I've been thinking about this, I've read the book Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt. The book is a touching memoir about the author and his wife making the decision to move in with his son-in-law and grandchildren after the sudden death of their 38-year old daughter. The title refers to the one daily chore the author takes loving care to perfect - making each child's toast exactly how he or she likes it.

It was then that I began to contemplate the different roles food can play in our lives. "Comfort food" has a certain connotation these days; one thinks of mac-n-cheese and meat loaf, fried chicken at a local diner or that high-end gourmet restaurant serving deconstructed pot pie. But it's not just the eating of that pot pie that reminds you of your carefree childhood, or the mac-n-cheese that satisfies you in a warm, carb-laden way that is comforting. It's the careful, loving creation of the simplest of foods, like toast, for a child. Or the sharing of leftover meatballs with a friend who is having a bad week. Or the drop-off of a quart of Stew Leonard's lobster bisque to a neighbor who just lost their kitty. As part of the every day, food - cooking it, sharing it, and eating it - can get us through difficult times.

As for the book, it's not really a "foodie book" per se. While there is, of course, the underlying sadness of a grieving family, it is not just about loss either. Rosenblatt tells anecdotes of a family coping with their loss, and he does so with wit and the dry sense of humor for which is is known. He also leaves much unsaid, and that sense that something is missing is reminiscent of the woman (daughter, wife, mother) who is now missing in their lives. Not overly sentimental or weepy, the book is written in journal-like entries that paint the picture of people moving on with their lives, focusing on the day-to-day, figuring out how to get through each one. Readers can learn a lesson on how to do exactly that from reading this lovely family tale.

3 comments:

JK said...

Thanks...for the meatballs and countless other things...xo, Joanne

JK said...

PS Funny that I happened to be scarfing leftover Shepard's pie from Boston while I was reading your post.

JK said...

OMG I think I misspelled shepherd's pie