Cookbook author Jasmine March's life is like a perfectly prepared béchamel-rich, satisfying, and drenched in butter. But even a great béchamel curdles sometimes. Her husband, Daniel, has taken up with one of his Zone-dieting drama students; Careme, her daughter, is bent on starving herself to death; and Jasmine's fellow foodies have had just about enough of her astronomically caloric recipes. To make matters worse, her publisher is threatening to cancel her contract. And then there's the small matter of the dead body she finds one morning on her kitchen floor.
Filled with mouth-watering descriptions of Jasmine's creations-venison stew with Madeira and juniper berries, crispy chicken breasts stuffed with goat cheese and mint-Nina Killham's smart and spirited first novel is good enough to eat.
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Everything about How to Cook a Tart, the debut novel from Washington Post food writer Nina Killham, is too much. Its heroine, cookbook author Jasmine March, is a rotund creation, a lover of cream and butter and pork and all manner of excess. Food governs her. She's given to ruminations along these lines: "of all the herbs, Jasmine thought, basil was her soul mate. Basil was sensuous, liking to stretch out green and silky under a hot sun with its feet covered in cool soil." Her husband Daniel is having an affair with a woman of the opposite extreme: an actress named Tina who's a skinny-limbed disciple of the Zone diet. Jasmine's daughter Careme is--what else?--an anorexic. Killham pushes these characters off the precipice of probability when Tina is found dead in Jasmine's kitchen, a brownie stuffed in her mouth. This could be a rich comic stew, but though Killham has a firm grasp of cookery, she has poor control over her tone. We're never sure if what we're reading is satire or romance or grotesquerie. It doesn't help that she lifts her conclusion from Roald Dahl. Still, foodie fans of Bon Appétit-style purple prose will find much to admire in the descriptions of Jasmine's kitchen adventures. --Claire DedererFrom the Publisher:
"A devilish delight...Smart, sexy, hilarious and not to be missed."- Washington Post
" How to Cook a Tart is gastro-porn-as if Julia Child and William Burroughs had a bastard child. Filled with magnificent descriptions of the best of food, the novel's dark subtext left me questioning whether I should cook less and have more sex-or cook more, just with more butter."-Anthony Bourdain, author of Kitchen Confidential and A Cook's Tour
"A wickedly wonderful dark comedy that makes mouths water and skewers self-proclaimed gourmands, cookbook writers and self-righteous dieters."- Chicago Sun-Times
"This debut black comedy...is not only delicious, it's simultaneously rare and well-done."- Glamour
"A delicate, wicked comedy that made me want to throw out my margarine and luxuriate in butter. I can relate to a book that celebrates eating and laughs at diets."-Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl with a Pearl Earring and Falling Angels
"Wickedly intelligent, succulent and true. Every woman who has ever picked up a spoon with guilt in her heart should read this and rejoice."-Jennifer Crusie, author of Faking It and Fast Women
"Wickedly funny."- New York Times Book Review
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