The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove (Review)

Book cover for "The Art of Eating In" by Cathy Erway.Title: The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove

Author: Cathy Erway

Publication Year: 2010

Pages: 336

Genre: Non-Fiction, Food Memoir

Source: Purchased from Chapters online

From the cover:

In the city where dining is a sport, a gourmand swears off restaurants (even takeout!) for two years, rediscovering the economical, gastronomical joy of home cooking

Gourmand-ista Cathy Erway’s timely memoir of quitting restaurants cold turkey speaks to a new era of conscientious eating. An underpaid, twenty-something executive assistant in New York City, she was struggling to make ends meet when she decided to embark on a Walden- esque retreat from the high-priced eateries that drained her wallet. Though she was living in the nation’s culinary capital, she decided to swear off all restaurant food. The Art of Eating In chronicles the delectable results of her twenty-four-month experiment, with thirty original recipes included.

What began as a way to save money left Erway with a new appreciation for the simple pleasure of sharing a meal with friends at home, the subtleties of home-cooked flavors, and whether her ingredients were ethically grown. She also explored the anti-restaurant underground of supper clubs and cook-offs, and immersed herself in an array of alternative eating lifestyles from freeganism and dumpster-diving to picking tasty greens on a wild edible tour in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Culminating in a binge that leaves her with a foodie hangover, The Art of Eating In is a journey to savor.

This was the first book in over a month that I picked up and finished within a matter of a few days. It was just that interesting a read for me.

Back when I bought this book a few months ago, it was the premise of Erway’s blog that had caught my attention – swearing off restaurant meals for a prolonged period of time, and only eating food prepared at home. As someone who has eaten a lot of food “out” over the past few years, and who really loves making homemade food, this seemed like a great idea to me. I had also recently read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defence of Food, and Food Rules (later followed by Locavore and Farmer Jane), and this had seemed like a great next book to read. So I bought it, and then it proceeded to sit on my shelf for about six months.

After finally finishing a book in December, I picked this one up thinking that it would be a nice, light read. After all, it’s a memoir about cooking, right? I was pleasantly surprised by Erway’s take on the subject, where she not only talks about her reasons for the project and the challenges she faced, but also weaves the story of her life, friends,┬árelationships, and new experiences┬áinto it.

It was really fun for me to live vicariously through Erway’s re-telling of her two years of “not eating out in New York”. I also learned quite a bit about new food movements that I hadn’t heard of (such as freeganism) and about things I’ve been interested in for a while (like supper clubs), all while enjoying the writing and anecdotes.

The Art of Eating In is more than just a “food book” – it’s also a memoir of someone who is learning more about her relationship with food and the myriad ways that food affects her life.


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