Book Club: Apron Anxiety by Alyssa Shelasky

To go along with the theme of the book club I belong to, I have decided that whenever I read a book that may or may not be worth sharing, I would post about it under the header of “Book Club” and the name of the book.  The first book that I have read in a long time outside of book club is Apron Anxiety by Alyssa Shelasky.

I was introduced to the book by The Young Friends of the Museum of Jewish Heritage Facebook page when they announced that Apron Anxiety was their book club pick for July.  The first description I saw on made me want to read the book: “’Hot sex, looking good, scoring journalistic triumphs … nothing made Alyssa love herself enough until she learned to cook. There’s a racy plot and a surprising moral in this intimate and delicious book.’ —Gael Greene, creator of and author of Insatiable: Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess”  The cover of the book proclaims “My messy affairs in and out of the kitchen.”  Yeah…they were mostly in the kitchen and involved Alyssa’s teaching herself to cook.

Needless to say, all of this “sexy” marketing of the book let me down as the book was not as hot as I was led to believe.  It did, however, have its fair share of humor.  Well, the hilarity of the introduction did not set a good precedent.  It did contain lines like “And even at the world’s best steak house, I am most excited by a clean baked potato and a dirty-minded man, not Kobe, Wagyu, or whatever” and “It feels liberating to confess that I once thought ‘kale’ was the name of a rock band, that the Laduree luxe macaron was the same as Passover’s canned macaroon, and that a growler involved a kinky bedroom, not a nice cold beer.” 

The book begins with her family history with food and continues to wind its way to how she met Chef (her name for one of Top Chef’s early cheftestants…I Googled to figure out which one).  She spends the next several chapters describing their “relationchef” (as someone who once dated a chef, a relationship with a chef is not the same as a relationship with a person who isn’t a chef).  They break up and she uses the last few chapters to talk about getting over him and ends with their current relationship.

The way traditional cookbooks have short anecdotes with each recipe, this book has a recipe or two that follows each chapter depending on what ate or cooked in that chapter.  The recipes are pretty far from paleo, but could be worth keeping in mind for non-paleo-challenge days. 

During my reading of Alyssa’s 260 pages in her “relationchef,” I got to thinking about the one I used to be in.  After the torture of his early mornings or his late nights or the nights he wouldn’t come home, I decided I would never date another chef.  I should note he was not on Top Chef; but, he was obsessed with the show.  I am grateful to him for three things: he introduced me to good food and the experience that is fine dining in New York City; he taught me how I should not be treated in a relationship so I would eventually learn how I should be treated; and he taught me that I needed to take care of me, that I should be number one to me.  In regards to cooking, I went from knowing only how to make chocolate chip cookies to preparing feasts for my friends.  I continue to experiment at NYC restaurants by taking full advantage of the biannual Restaurant Week and lavish in the spoiling that comes at restaurants like Daniel.  It took four years, but I have finally found someone who treats me the way I should be treated and the way I deserve to be treated, going so far as to call me beautiful.  To this day, nearly five years later, I am still working out and loving more and more how my body looks.  You may remember that I walked into a gym the day we broke up.

Back to the book.  After her breakup with Chef and her move back from DC to Brooklyn, she meets a man she calls “Benito Bagel” and begins dating him.  Their relationship is more of a friendship.  After they split, she writes, “What I learned from our short time together was how nice it feels to be with someone who is simply kind, honest, and dependable.”  Those three adjectives struck a nerve with me.  A person who is kind, honest, and dependable is the best type of person to be in a relationship with.

My overall review: if you’re looking for something quick and cutesy, go for it.  Otherwise, find something better.

Have you read Apron Anxiety?  What did you think of it?  What should I read next?

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