Book Review: The Art of Eating In by Cathy Erway

The adventures of a girl who only eats home made food for two years while living in New York. It sounds so promising and the first chapter about the history of restaurants and how NY became the ‘eating out’ capital of world is amazing. Unfortunately after that, there is not enough cooking and a lot of ‘discovering oneself’ and honestly, reading a book filled with every day anecdotes about random people doesn’t interest me. When Cathy DOES talk about cooking (and I mean the nitty gritty of cooking, not just ingredient lists and recipes, I mean how you can juggle cooking dinner and desert at the same time and how you can add these leftovers to this meal to make it better and how bone in cooking creates more flavour) it’s really interesting and the writing flows along. But when she’s telling stories which involve several people you’re not sure if she has already introduced in the book or if they just appeared now and the timeline is a little fragmented (WHEN DID SHE PICK UP THE MEAT FROM THE BUTCHER? WHEN??) and the writing weaves knots that suddenly tighten and choke the story without actually getting anywhere.

Somehow I think this concept made a much better blog.

Anyway, the book cycles through Cathy’s initial romance with her boyfriend, their moving in together and eventual break up, followed by her quest for romance which doesn’t involve restaurant dinners. It also shows how hard it is to spend time out with friends and family without eating out. I found that the book gives a good list of things Cathy found hard, from avoiding vending machine snacks to finding the line between eating out and buying pre-prepared food. But the answers are rather enigmatic. This is either because I’m not good at reading between lines (I feel there should be no ‘hidden’ meaning in books. What’s the point in adding meaning if 60% of the readers aren’t going to pick up on it?) or because Cathy didn’t actually come up with any answers during her 2 year quest.

In the end, this book is a long slog which introduces the reader to some interesting concepts and theories, but doesn’t actually elaborate on much. Cathy explores dumpster diving, foraging and low waste eating, but doesn’t actually stick with any long enough to give a detailed analysis. Basically if you want a how to manual about not eating out or alternatives to eating out, this is not a good book. If you want a story about how an average girl spent two years figuring out her life while not eating out, then it is. I was expecting much more practical advice and was a little disappointed.

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