Sunday, May 23, 2010
The Art of Eating In : a review
The Art of Eating In: How I learned to stop spending and love the stove by Cathy Erway (2010)
The author of the popular blog Not Eating Out in New York chronicles her 2-year experiment to eat only home-cooked food. In addition to cooking at home, she explores other eating alternatives like supper clubs, trash diving, and urban foraging. As you might expect, recipes are included. Because it’s about changes she made in her lifestyle, it also chronicles parts of her personal life – primarily romantic relationships and family – but those are minor sub-plots in the otherwise food-focused narrative.
As someone who has been consciously trying to cut down on eating out, I was intrigued by the subject and pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed reading it. Erway’s writing isn’t the best, with some awkward phrases and stilted dialogue, but her culinary adventures are inspiring. (I’m not kidding - the day I finished the book I spent close to 4 hours in my kitchen making samosas.)
At a little over 300 pages there is a lot packed into her book, but I still wanted more. First of all, I’m always curious about how people who cook a lot handle the day to day aspects of planning, shopping and fitting this all into their schedules (though Erway was pretty forward about cooking being her main hobby). Secondly, I wanted to know what sorts of things she cooked on evenings when she was in a rush and made something simple and quick before or after her evening plans. This is part of what I find so difficult about not eating out – coming up with something quickly when I’m hungry and standing in my pantry staring at a hodgepodge of random ingredients. But this isn’t a how-to manual, nor was it written with my particular culinary questions in mind so I’ll forgive her for not including much on these subjects.
I clearly don’t have the innate creativity and love of cooking that made Erway’s experiment so successful. But her point was taken – eating home cooked food is cheaper, healthier, in many cases tastier, and less trash-producing than a diet of fast-food, take-out and restaurant food. Though it would be extremely difficult for most people to even come close to what Cathy Erway did, most of us could certainly benefit from cooking more at home, and her book is an entertaining and inspiring starting point.