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 mélange of memoir, traveler's tale, and cultural commentary.
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Doris Friedensohn is professor emerita of women's studies at New Jersey City University.From Publishers Weekly:
In quiet tones, Friedensohn, a professor emerita of women's studies at New Jersey City University, describes meals eaten and friendships formed over the years, both in the United States and abroad. The more engaging chapters in this first-person narrative, "Eat (Ethnic)! Eat (American)!" and "Kimchi Pride" center, respectively, on places such as the Phil-Am, a Filipino store and cafeteria-style restaurant in Jersey City, and on Korean cooking in New Jersey, Vermont and Korea. Friedensohn notes her own eating habits, as well as others', clearly and sensuously: "She points an arthritic forefinger first to pancit (Filipino noodles), then to a chocolately brown pork adobo (pork belly marinated in vinegar, garlic and soy sauce), then to a sculptural wedge of chicherones (pork cracklings)." Especially rewarding is part four, "Cooking for a Change," which recalls Friedensohn's experiences in the Food Service Training Academy, a free 14-week job-training program sponsored by the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, which teaches "life skills as well as knife skills." Here, Friedensohn focuses on "links (among) eating, poverty, and social policy," topics not generally addressed in food-centric memoirs. Dispatches from countries such as Senegal, Tunisia and Austria prove less intriguing, but are minor let-downs in this otherwise enjoyable volume. 25 photos.
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