Giulia Melucci always feels compelled to cook for her new boyfriends, because “good food is the best complement I can think of to the many pleasures love offers.” When the relationship ends, she cooks for herself, to mend her broken heart! Either way, cuisine seems to be a staple in her life that helps her get through everything.
An autobiographical and humorous book that includes many recipes, it is easy to identify with Giulia’s search for a mate. She dates bon vivants, depressed intellectuals, writers, composers, Croatian translators and many other eccentrics and bohemians. She finds all of them inspirational – cooking-wise – but in the end impossible as life partners.
Giulia writes with an intelligent and colorful sense of detail that makes you feel as if you are there in various settings partaking of a meal with her and her current boyfriend. Because of her publicist’s work for Harper’s, the Atlantic Monthly and other literate periodicals, her life is “charmed” with book parties and famous authors, and we can imagine attending these galas ourselves and then coming home and cooking, where the familiarity absorbs any rarity we may have just experienced. She lives to eat elegantly and is always searching for a man who feels the same way. When dates are less abundant she hangs out with her best friend Ginia, making forays into New York City’s vast ethnic restaurant scene.
Giulia’s book is also filled with the recipes of others (her aunt’s, her boyfriend’s mom’s, and those acquired from new people she meets) as she assures us that you don’t need incredible cookery to make fine food, just very good ingredients and a heating source. Cooking is “a way to make sense out of (my) internal chaos. There is logic and order to cooking. What you put into it has everything to do with what you get out of it.”
All of Giulia’s dating stories are intriguing. She writes with a compelling immediacy, as if you are one of her confidants who’s just learning about a new amour and being asked to help her analyze him. The only problem with this very personal (cook) book is that reading it will leave you perpetually hungry!
Reviewed by Christina Zawadiwsky
Christina Zawadiwsky is Ukrainian-American, born in New York City, has a degree in Fine Arts, and is a poet, artist, journalist and TV producer. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts Award, two Wisconsin Arts Boards Awards, a Co-Ordinating Council of Literary Magazines Writer’s Award, and an Art Futures Award, among other honors. She was the originator and producer of “Where The Waters Meet”, a local TV series created to facilitate the voices of artists of all genres in the media, for which she won two national and twenty local awards, including a Commitment to Community Television Award. She is also a contributing editor to the annual Pushcart Prize Anthology, the recipient of an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association, and has published four books of poetry.