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Cooking for Mr Latte: A Food Lover's Courtship, with Recipes [Paperback]

Amanda Hesser
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

12 May 2004
Life in the city, love, and unforgettable meals can a food writer find happiness with a man who has an empty refrigerator? Amanda Hesser's irresistible book is the tale of a romance where food is the source of discovery, discord, and delight a story of universal desires: good food, great company, and a mate. At each stage of her courtship from her first date with "Mr. Latte" (a near-disaster) to her first uneasy dinner at his parents' home, from intimate suppers in her Upper West Side apartment to his first attempt at cooking for her Amanda supplies menus for the meals they share: more than one hundred well-balanced and well-seasoned recipes that will leave you satisfied yet wanting more. With warmth and honesty, Amanda shares her feasts and foibles, triumphs and near-misses, tense encounters and good times in the kitchen and beyond. Her humorous, sensuous tale leads us date by date, recipe by recipe, to a jubilant conclusion.

Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; New edition edition (12 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393325598
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393325591
  • Product Dimensions: 20.9 x 17.3 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 698,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Mark my words, [Hesser] is food writing's Next Big Thing, joining...M. F. K. Fisher, Ruth Reichl, [and] Laurie Colwin. --Christine Van De Velde Luskin

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A great curling up in bed cook book 27 Sep 2010
This is more a collection of magazine articles with recipes than a conventional cookbook. She is passionate about food and trying new things and it's a good read. The white bolognese is the only recipe I cook regualrly from it though.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  84 reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not afraid to make mistakes 23 April 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I enjoyed this book very much. I actually think it's better than The Cook and the Gardener for non-recipe content. Contrary to the "official" review, I did not think that the content was cutesy at all. Rather, I was glad to see Ms. Hesser admit to her faults, romantic, gourmet, and otherwise. I read the chapter about the Indian visitor entirely differently-- to me, Ms. Hesser nicely conveyed the embarrassment accompanying the gaffes and assumptions that well-meaning but realtively affluent people can sometimes make. I enjoyed Ms. Hesser's willingness to discuss how her recipes don't always come out, and thought she did a nice job discussing the ins and outs of relationships, including learning how to compromise, and learning to not be such a snob about one's personal preferences. (See the chapter on artificial sweeteners. . .) And I enjoyed her approach to cooking, since it mirrors my own "freestyle" approach.
The recipes are great, especially the "white" bolognese from the chapter about her visit to Rome. I made this recipe when it first appeared in the NYT for a dinner party, and got raves-- and promptly lost the recipe. Imagine my joy to find it here-- it made the price of the book well worth paying, even without the rest of the good recipes and enjoyable writing.
Now if she would only publish her winter fruit salad with Vanilla Syrup recipe!
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun Foodie Diary + Great Recipes 5 April 2004
By A. Andrews - Published on Amazon.com
I read Amanda Hesser's COOKING FOR MR. LATTE while recovering from surgery. What a delight! I could hardly wait to get into the kitchen and try her recipes.
The recipes are written in a casual, conversational style, probably much like those family recipes scribbled on the old 3x5 cards you probably still have in your kitchen along with your online digests and fancy cookbooks. Her recipes are like those on the cards, delicious, reliable and homey -- the ones you return to when you want comfort in the kitchen, not a "project". (Try the Meyer Lemon Linguine w/Creme Fraiche, the chocolate 'Dump-It Cake', Oven Fried Chicken, and the Beets, Apples and Ginger with Clementine Vinaigrette.)
Amanda Hesser shares with us her friendly, foodie persona and delivers recipes that transport us into her Grandmother's kitchen on the Eastern Shore of Chesapeake Bay, a friend's place in Boston, and back to her apartment in NYC. Amanda Hesser highlights the joys of sharing good food with good company, even when that company is yourself (e.g. "single girl salmon").
I applaud Amanda Hesser for following her passion and making a career out of her love and interest in food. Rather than seeing her as pretentious, I see her as an inspiration.
64 of 84 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Foodie Barbie's Dream Book: Class Dismissed 26 Jun 2003
By constantreader - Published on Amazon.com
The hot-pink title should be a tip-off: What might we deduce about the taste level of someone who would name a fluffy cookbook/memoir in reference to an earlier book ("Looking for Mr. Goodbar") about the murder of a lonely crippled woman?
Nonetheless, this is a physically attractive, if precious little book, with its chick-lit cover, rosy endpapers and the '50s-style line drawings that make everyone look impossibly pretty, thin, rich and happy. Like the '50s women's-magazine ads they evoke, the drawings seem to have created an alternate reality -- not quite the right tone for something that purports to be autobiography, interrupted with recipes.
I can't help comparing this book with the late Laurie Colwin's two memoir/cookbooks. Like Colwin's books, this one gives personal tips on how to cook dishes that have worked for the author, setting them in a context of entertaining family and friends through various life passages. The reason novelist Colwin's food-focused books worked for me and this one didn't, though, are the ingredients Hesser leaves out, as much as those she puts in. There's a little too much about her personal life not to have put in a little more. For instance, she hints at a class gap between her family of origins and her husband's (struggling single mom vs. college president and his hostess wife), but she won't quite go the distance and tell us how she feels about that.
There's a lot about her food-snob criticisms of her husband-to-be's eating habits, but one wonders if she ever felt any insecurity about the background gap. How she jumped the class fences would be intriguing, but she doesn't tell us how she got to train as a cook in France, nor how she got to write for the NYT while still in her 20. Either would be more interesting than her vacillations between a wedding dress from Valentino vs. one by Prada.
More fascinating are the occasional glimpses into her rather steely careerist side, and it's hard to tell if she's conscious of a rather nasty habit of biting the hand that fed her. As a young factotum for a French restaurateur, she once picked up Julia Child at Orly airport. During a drive and a lunch, she doesn't seem to have had any shop talk with one of the first American women to popularize the art of fine cooking, but shows Child as the loopy, "Saturday Night Live" caricature of herself, smiling dimwittedly at hostile French teens as the only elderly person eating at their hangout. Other food critics are kicked in the teeth for their pretensions, though it's not made clear why they are less palatable than the author's own.
There's a partial exposure of Hesser's family that reminds me of Martha Stewart's soft-focus presentation of her Polish-American family. You get the family recipes, but no sense of how these people feel, think or live their daily lives. In a particularly mean scene,"Mr. Latte" mocks the author's grandmother's npn-standard pronunciation of the word "terrible" to Hesser's apparent amusement.
I put this book down twice, but sucked up the smarminess to keep browsing through the recipes, some of which at least sound good. (Others, influenced by the gimmicky restaurants she covers, sound like a clash of too many random flavors.)I wish, though, that she had told a story worthy of her rather tough, direct style. This book -- pictures, pink and all -- is just too cute for words.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Three stars for content, five for recipes. 19 Oct 2005
By Valkyrie - Published on Amazon.com
I'll be blunt: if you're interested in reading this book independent of the extraordinary recipes that punctuate each brief, anecdotal chapter, you're going to be sorely disappointed. Hesser's recipes indicate a serious talent in the kitchen, but as any sort of writer, she's consistently been sorely lacking. In essence, if what you want to find in this book is anything along the lines of chick lit, romance, humor, or the sensual, nuance-oriented genre "food writing," you're not going to find a satisfactory example of it here. Hesser's anecdotes revolve entirely around her, her glamorous life, her pet peeves and various dislikes and annoyances, and, as she has no gift for capturing the feel of a moment or drawing a character--all of the supporting characters in her book are thinly-etched portraits of her real-life friends and acquaintances--you're going to be sick and tired of her by the end of the book.

If, however, you're after a carefully selected, varied, and compelling collection of recipes that are, all things considered, fairly easily executed, this is your book. I've tried many of the recipes in it, and all have turned out well. Many of her recipes have high butter and/or olive oil requirements, but I've found that they work just as well with half or even a third of the required amounts--basically, anything she wants you to saute, you can do with FAR less grease, and you're better off, taste-and-health-wise, doing so. Stunners in this cookbook include the veal chops with sage (which are actually just as good made with much-cheaper lamb shoulder), the pork braised in milk and cream (quite an indulgence, so save for a rainy day), roasted guinea hen (just use a chicken, for the love of God), and the chocolate dump-it cake (follow this to the LETTER, or it will be a mess, but do it right, and it's perfect.)

Hesser's pretensions, unfortunately, have prevented her from writing a cookbook that is, both in terms of health and ingredients, usable for everyone. Trust me, though, no one will notice if you substitute regular table salt, ordinary olive oil, and plain old lemons.
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very tedious 15 July 2005
By RNS - Published on Amazon.com
This book starts out promising--a love story of mismatched opposites. After the first 2 chapters, however, it turns into the diary of a snobby New York elitist. The amount of detail she would like the readers to care about concerning the most mundane experiences in her life is intolerable. She simultaneously derides American cuisine while saying that her family's "lobster shaped meatloaf" is the best. Her future in-laws seem to be the best cooks on the planet, which seems like pure pandering. Her absolute fascination with "Europe" (by which she means France and Italy) and her frustrations with taking her maladroit family members there is a tired cliche. The fact that she is so embarrassed at their behavior shows her to be spoiled. The recipes are mostly, if not all, culled from other sources. Thankfully, it is a light read, and the impressions it gives will not linger upon you.
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