Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti

Summary: From failure to fusilli, this deliciously hilarious read tells the story of Giulia Melucci's fizzled romances and the mouth-watering recipes she used to seduce her men, smooth over the lumps, and console herself when the relationships flamed out. From an affectionate alcoholic, to the classic New York City commitment-phobe, to a hipster aged past his sell date, and not one, but two novelists with Peter Pan complexes, Giulia has cooked for them all. She suffers each disappointment with resolute cheer (after a few tears) and a bowl of pastina (recipe included) and has lived to tell the tale so that other women may go out, hopefully with greater success, and if that's not possible, at least have something good to eat. Peppered throughout Giulia's delightful and often poignant remembrances are fond recollections of her mother's cooking, the recipes she learned from her, and many she invented on her own inspired by the men in her life. Readers will howl at Giulia's boyfriend-littered past and swoon over her irresistable culinary creations.

Review: Do Not Read This Book On An Empty Stomach! Now that I have that warning out of the way I will proceed with my review of I Loved I Lost Made Spaghetti: I loved it! On one level Melucci’s tome is an insightful memoir of her romantic entanglements. On another level it is a philosophy of cooking book. In short, it is what you would have if you combined Carrie Bradshaw with Carmela Soprano.

Melucci is a successful, Brooklyn, singleton who is looking for her other half. In wooing her suitors Melucci is a devotee of the “way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” school. Thus, whenever she meets her next potential Mr. Right she serves up exquisite meals such as: Risotto with Intricately Layered Hearts; Salmon with Lemon-Tarragon Butter; Linguine with Friendly Little Fish, Orzo Salad with Feta, and French Lentil Stew.

Unfortunately, for Melucci, her 5 star efforts in the kitchen are enjoyed by: 1) an alcoholic; 2) a commitmentphobe; 3) an aging hipster; 4) a geriatric lunatic; and 5) a user. Melucci, however, does not lay all of the blame at her boyfriends’ feet. Rather she admits that “I had a remarkable ability for turning any picture into the picture I wanted to see: me with a husband. My imagination had the flexibility of a thirteen year-old Chinese gymnast.” She also confesses that “maybe I’m not as ready as I think I am.”

Still I couldn’t help but think when reading about her actions, such as, dropping everything to rendezvous with a new suitor that she might have won him if she hadn’t repeatedly violated The Rules. If you are not familiar with this dating bible it preaches that women must “play hard to get” to bag her man. Ironically, Melucci states that she did have a coaching session from one of The Rules authors, but failed to adhere to the advice. Yes, this philosophy is dated, and sexist, but personally I believe it works. Tellingly, Melucci notes that several of her boyfriends later married other women.

I Loved, I Lost, is also a terrific cookbook. Melucci’s philosophy of cooking is surprisingly straightforward and attainable: “the only true essentials . . . are fine ingredients and a sense of how to use them.” Hence, the recipes are simple and sound tasty. I have even made a few (Linguine with Friendly with Fishes and a Baby Arugula with Avocado Salad). She also adds thoughtful flourishes to her meals like serving hot meals in warm bowls. This is a nice touch and one that I rarely think to do. Lastly, I especially love her commitment to making enjoyable meals even if she’s “only” cooking for one. As she muses, “though I much prefer cooking for two to cooking for one, if one is all I have, I cook for her.” Buon Appetito!

1 comment:

  1. This book is on my reading list. Looking forward to reading it soon!