Eating as I Go: Scenes from America and Abroad

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University Press of Kentucky, Jul 21, 2006 - Cooking - 264 pages
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What do we learn from eating? About ourselves? Others? In this unique memoir of a life shaped by the pleasures of the table, Doris Friedensohn uses eating as an occasion for inquiry. Munching on quesadillas and kimchi in her suburban New Jersey neighborhood, she reflects on her exploration of food over fifty years and across four continents. Relishing couscous in Tunisia and khachapuri in the Republic of Georgia, she explores the ways strangers come together and maintain their differences through food. As a young woman, Friedensohn was determined not to be a provincial American. Chinese, French, Mexican, and Mediterranean cuisines beckoned to her like mysterious suitors. She responded, pursuing suckling pig, snails, baba ghanoush, tripe, jellyfish, and anything with rosemary or cumin. Each rendezvous with an unfamiliar food was a celebration of cosmopolitan living. Friedensohn’s memories range from Thanksgiving at a Middle Eastern restaurant to the taste of fried grasshoppers in Oaxaca. Her wry dramas of the dining room, restaurant, market, and kitchen ripple with tensions—political, religious, psychological, and spiritual. Eating as I Go is one woman’s distinctive m lange of memoir, traveler’s tale, and cultural commentary.
 

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Eating as I go: scenes from America and abroad

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In an engaging series of memoir essays, Friedensohn (emeritus, women√ƒ¬Į√‚¬Ņ√‚¬Ĺs studies/American studies, New Jersey City Univ.) shares with us her lifelong quest for new cultures, foods, and tastes ... Read full review

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Page 11 - ... Supposing a friend of our parents' — out for a breath of air between prayers — chanced to pass Yum Luk just as we were emerging from the restaurant? Supposing my chopsticks slipped and some of that sticky sauce stained the pale yellow orlon sweater I was wearing? There would be hell to pay. Not from the all-knowing god of our ancestors, whose being and behavior were matters of No risk, no gain, the saying goes. In a moment and environment in which so many risks were unthinkable or much too...
Page 11 - omelettes," neatly stacked and bulging with bean sprouts, onions, and diced roast pork, rose high above a sea of gluey brown sauce. Sweet and salt, crisp and moist, garlic and pungent: the tastes fused in my nose before the first bite reached my mouth. When we initiated the ritual, almost forty years ago, my friend Ruth and I devoured the exotic concoction in a record three and a half minutes. I can still see us, giggling and fussing with our chopsticks, shoveling it in. The moment and the meal were...
Page 12 - ... orlon sweater I was wearing? There would be hell to pay. Not from the all-knowing god of our ancestors, whose being and behavior were matters of No risk, no gain, the saying goes. In a moment and environment in which so many risks were unthinkable or much too dangerous, food was my frontier of choice. Yom Kippurs at Yum Luk were delicious acts of defiance: the beginning of a long history of infidelities to the culinary tradition in which I was raised. For the first twenty years of my life, under...
Page 11 - Doris Friedensohn My favorite egg foo yung is the one I ate religiously — in an ammonia-scented Cantonese dive on upper Broadway — every Yom Kippur during my high school years. At Yum Luk, three crunchy "omelettes," neatly stacked and bulging with bean sprouts, onions, and diced roast pork, rose high above a sea of gluey brown sauce. Sweet and salt, crisp and moist, garlic and pungent: the tastes fused in my nose before the first bite reached my mouth. When we initiated the ritual, almost forty...
Page 11 - ... community was suffering through the obligatory fast, we would feast on Forbidden Foods. Of course, we were desperately afraid of being caught. Supposing a friend of our parents' — out for a breath of air between prayers — chanced to pass Yum Luk just as we were emerging from the restaurant? Supposing my chopsticks slipped and some of that sticky sauce stained the pale yellow orlon sweater I was wearing? There would be hell to pay. Not from the all-knowing god of our ancestors, whose being...
Page 28 - Passover; shopping; and cooking. My mother, who did most of this work herself, commissioned me as her lieutenant for the final stages of preparation and serving. At our seder table, the Party of Tradition and the Party of Modernization negotiated for primacy. The tradition, as once practiced by my maternal grandparents and championed by my mother, required that prayers be chanted in Hebrew—an arcane skill, possessed only by (some few) males of my mothers generation.
Page 29 - English convoluted enough to confound its revelations of God's mysterious and wondrous ways. How was it, I would inquire of no one in particular, that He who had been so vigilant on behalf of the Jews when they were slaves in Egypt could have slept so soundly during our darkest hours in twentieth-century Europe? Actually, I was usually too busy during my mother's...

About the author (2006)

Doris Friedensohn is professor emerita of women's studies at New Jersey City University.

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