Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant

201108291141.jpg Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone , edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler, was the August Kitchen Reader selection and was chosen by Anni of anjeme.

I struggled to decide how many stars to give this book. On the one hand, a book full of short food-related essays was just what I needed this month. I especially identified with many of the stories in the first half of the book.

I squealed with delight when I came across a brief description of my beloved Madison Farmers Market in one story. I called Dan into the room to show him the paragraph where Amanda Hesser mentioned the restaurant we ate dinner at on New Year’s Eve. I loved every peek into what the writers eat when they are home alone.

But my enthusiasm waned as I passed the half-way mark and continued until the end of the book. It may just be that short stories have never really been my “thing,” and the novelty of reading them had started to wear off. It may be that the way the stories were arranged and ordered put every essay I really identified with towards the beginning of the book.

I’m not sure what it was, but it certainly made it difficult to give a star rating to the book overall. I really wanted to give it 3.5 stars, but am sticking with whole numbers and didn’t think rounding up to 4 would be accurate… so three out of five stars it is.

Have you read this book, and if so, what did you think? What kind of writing isn’t really your “thing”?

I enjoy some short stories, but really prefer longer essays and stories where I can take more time to get to know the characters and the setting. But I’d definitely take short stories over poetry any day.


  1. says

    I read this a couple years ago and felt the same way. I’m not a huge short story fan. I’d rather be engrossed in a book that builds me up and brings me through something I can visualize. Short stories leave little time to get engaged. I can’t remember specific stories since it’s been so long since I read this but I do remember liking some much more than others. I’d have given it about 3 stars too.

  2. says

    I’ve never read this book, but I might have to try it out now. I agree with you on the short story thing though. It’s easier for me to not finish the book when it’s a bunch of short stories whereas a long story keeps me interested and wanting more (well, some of them).

  3. says

    i agree about short stories! i was definitely burning out toward the end. i gobbled up (pun intended) the first 10 or so stories at the beginning of the month, then slowly worked my way through the rest of them as the month went on. i literally finished the last 2 pages while at dinner with a friend because i was sooooo close to being done and wanted to just finish it. ha. it’s definitely a book i’d like to revisit again, slowly, in bits and pieces.

  4. says

    I love short stories because I am often reading on my bus ride. Or I often read for 10 minutes before bed as a wind-down ritual. So this book really suited me. I loved getting to know the different authors. I have found that since becoming a Kitchen Reader member I want to learn more about food writing, and I feel as though I’ve been introduced to a lot of great writers with this book.

  5. says

    Ha! Well if we’re confessing, I burned out on this book too. Some stories were fantastic, but after struggling through some I couldn’t relate to (one I skimmed and didn’t even finish), I started to feel like they were getting repetitive. It’s hard to bring a compilation together and have it all be fabulous. But that is also the strength, you get a sampling and can dig deeper into your favorite authors later. Even if some stories didn’t move me, I liked the overall premise of this book. It made me think about something in a new way – always a good thing!

  6. says

    The essay format was great for me this month! I love long books, but I’ve had so much other reading and writing to do that I liked reading one or two chapters before bed and having closure each time I set it down.

    That said, I didn’t like every story; by the end I was definitely struggling. And I’m not sure there was a way to avoid a collection of essays on a single topic to NOT get repetitive. Maybe just my reading one story a week? But I think the good outweighed the “meh” for me. Three stars seems fair!

  7. says

    Dito. Liked some, didn’t like others but do like short stories in general. And since I have so much other reading to do for school these were perfect for this month.