The Art of Eating In

The Art of Eating In:  How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove by Cathy Erway

 Published:  2010 by Gotham Books

Source:  Purchased (e-book)

Reading Challenge:  2012 Wishlist Challenge

    When I first saw the title of this book, I was immediately intrigued.  I expected a book about learning to cook and weaning oneself off of the convenience of restaurants and takeout food.  What I did not expect was what this book turned out to be:  the life of a foodie in New York who just happens to do most of her own cooking.

Ok,  Ms Erway does forego eating in restaurants in New York City for two years (making exceptions when she visits her family in New Jersey), but she does eat out a lot; especially when she gets involved in underground supper clubs and various cooking challenges in the city.  This is where I find the subtitle of the book misleading; where at the beginning she does appear to be saving money (enough to get her own apartment after splitting up with her boyfriend), but once she takes on these extra-curricular activities and cooking so much food for crowds I cannot believe that she was still spending less on her home-cooking project than if she ate at a restaurant once or twice a week.

That leads me to the second problem I had with the book.  The subtitle led me to believe that the focus of her not eating out was to save money, but only when she talks about the need to find a new apartment is this brought up.  To me, the book seemed more focussed on the environmental benefits of not eating out (less packaging, for example), which is certainly admirable but not the reason I wanted to read the book.

And problem number three:  Ms Erway is a foodie; no problem there, but the recipes she includes at the end of each chapter and her accounts of her cooking were not anything that I – an interested cook with basic ability – could relate to.  Aside from one experiment where she replicated a favorite dish from a local Chinese restaurant, I felt I didn’t learn anything practical that I could use.

So this book was a disappointment for me, but if you are a foodie you will probably enjoy it much more.  I suggest checking out the author’s blog, upon which this book is based, before deciding to pick it up.

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7 Responses to The Art of Eating In

  1. Leeswammes says:

    Funny, this sounds very American to me. I hardly ever eat out or buy take outs or whatever. However basic our cooking may be, we cook more or less every day. An exception for a holiday or so when we will eat out (or a special celebration).

    Not for me, then!

    • bibliosue says:

      You are right Judith — it is an American issue; specifically an urban American one. I think she actually mentioned it in the book that more and more people view eating in as a special occasion as opposed to eating out.

      • Leeswammes says:

        Wow, that sounds SO odd to me! Actually, I also find it odd when I hear that people buy their coffee from the local Starbucks or other coffee shop to drink at home! We (I) never do that and I don’t know anyone who does. I do buy coffee when I’m on the go sometimes, like when I’m travelling, but at home, I make my own.

        You know, I realise more and more that there are a lot of things that we Europeans and Americans have in common, but below the surface, there is a whole different culture!

  2. zibilee says:

    I am a foodie, so I would probably enjoy this one, but I can understand your growing dislike for the book as it does not seem to reflect the situation that the title indicates. I can’t imagine that she was spending less when she was creating huge and expensive meals and sharing them with others, but the book does sound interesting to me. Great review today!

  3. i felt the same way about this book. I expected to be able to learn how to save money and find some budget-friendly recipes. Instead, she calls for ingredients I’d never be able to find, let alone afford, here.

  4. Bummer, I was excited to read this book, but I was hoping to learn some practical tips too. I didn’t know the author had a blog, I’ll go check that out as you suggested before grabbing the book at the library.

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