Consuming Passions: A Food-Obsessed Life

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9780060183714: Consuming Passions: A Food-Obsessed Life

"Every Sunday, the whole family gathered at Mama Hughes's house in Amite County, Mississippi. They were ferocious eaters and talkers, devouring rumors and innuendo with gusto. Food was their common language, and everyone understood the dialects." -- Aunt Tempe, reminiscing about family dinners

From Michael Lee West, author of the acclaimed American Pie, She Flew the Coop, and Crazy Ladies, comes a delightfully quirky memoir of an adventurous food-obsessed life, laced with delicious secret recipes passed from generation to generation. Wonderfully presented and thoroughly entertaining, this warm and witty work unites West's evocative voice and humor with the uniquely American form of kitchen tales in the tradition of Laurie Colwin.

West lends her distinctive humor and often hilarious insights to stories about her trials and tribulations as a Southern woman who became an "accidental gourmet." In this irresistible memoir mothers swing from chandeliers, elderly aunts brew love potions, a South American nymphomaniac stirs up trouble at a Louisiana barbecue joint, Margaret Mitchell's bed is discovered during a routine antique hunt, a cabbage-eating ghost haunts relatives, mother and daughter peek under fig leaves on statues, and bees attack--all in pursuit of good food.

By watching a multitude of relatives cook, squabble, and carry on tradition, Michael Lee West went from a noncooking student to a full-on gourmet of food and words. Using her own experience and the witticisms of relatives, or clever inspirations overheard in parking lots on the way to the mayor's funeral, West fills these pages with insights such as:

"Potato salad is our friend. It will never let you down. It's a shame we have to eat it, but that's life" and "Live and learn. Die and get food. That's the Southern way." Often bawdy and always entertaining, West is wonderfully outrageous, charming, and delightful.

"Anybody can cook. But it takes a special person to feed the souls of her guests."-- Miss Johnnie, sitting in a rocking chair, musing about hospitality, 1979

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Review:

Born in Louisiana and at home in Tennessee, author Michael Lee West makes any old body feel downright welcome at her kitchen table. The coffee's hot, the iced tea is sweet, the cake's a little dry, and the conversation shows no sign of abating, even as the last page is turned and the cover is closed on Consuming Passions: A Food-Obsessed Life. The subject is variously food, family, and Mama, wherein Mama is as much a state of mind as an embodied soul. This is about the South, honey, some of which is of the New South stripe, and some of the Old.

In an easy, talkative style, author West spins tales, shares recipes, and hands out advice. In a chapter titled "Funeral Food," she includes recipes for Lemon Chess Pie and Lemon Squares. Among her rules for funeral food, she notes that dishes must be easy to transport as well as appealing to the bereaved. Some foods are simply inappropriate. "I myself have never seen appetizers at a funeral," West writes. "This is not the time to bring Better Than Sex Cake or Death by Chocolate. And it's never a good idea to use uncooked eggs in funeral food."

Consuming Passions is about home cooking, about church-basement food, about growing up in the shadow of Mama's kitchen and learning to cook away from home. West is ever willing to try something new, to fail, to try again, and to defend to her last breath the virtues of her favorite mayonnaise. West has the spirit of a close friend who'll share all her secrets, including her best recipes, some of which her various family members (we meet them all) failed to take to their graves. Sit down, pull up a chair, and get ready to listen. --Schuyler Ingle

About the Author:

Michael Lee West is the author of Mad Girls in Love, Crazy Ladies, American Pie, She Flew the Coop, and Consuming Passions. She lives with her husband on a rural farm in Tennessee with three bratty Yorkshire terriers, a Chinese Crested, assorted donkeys, chickens, sheep, and African Pygmy goats. Her faithful dog Zap (above) was the inspiration for a character in the novel.

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Book Description Harper, 1999. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: "Every Sunday, the whole family gathered at Mama Hughes's house in Amite County, Mississippi. They were ferocious eaters and talkers, devouring rumors and innuendo with gusto. Food was their common language, and everyone understood the dialects." -- Aunt Tempe, reminiscing about family dinnersFrom Michael Lee West, author of the acclaimed "American Pie, She Flew the Coop, and "Crazy Ladies, comes a delightfully quirky memoir of an adventurous food-obsessed life, laced with delicious secret recipes passed from generation to generation. Wonderfully presented and thoroughly entertaining, this warm and witty work unites West's evocative voice and humor with the uniquely American form of kitchen tales in the tradition of Laurie Colwin.West lends her distinctive humor and often hilarious insights to stories about her trials and tribulations as a Southern woman who became an "accidental gourmet." In this irresistible memoir mothers swing from chandeliers, elderly aunts brew love potions, a South American nymphomaniac stirs up trouble at a Louisiana barbecue joint, Margaret Mitchell's bed is discovered during a routine antique hunt, a cabbage-eating ghost haunts relatives, mother and daughter peek under fig leaves on statues, and bees attack--all in pursuit of good food.By watching a multitude of relatives cook, squabble, and carry on tradition, Michael Lee West went from a noncooking st. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0060183713

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