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Eat Joy: Stories & Comfort Food from 31 Celebrated Writers

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This collection of intimate essays by some of America's most well-regarded writers explores how food can help us cope in dark times―whether it be the loss of a parent, the loneliness of moving to a new country, the heartache of an unexpected breakup, or the fear of coming out. Luscious, full-color illustrations by Meryl Rowin are woven throughout, and accompanying each This collection of intimate essays by some of America's most well-regarded writers explores how food can help us cope in dark times―whether it be the loss of a parent, the loneliness of moving to a new country, the heartache of an unexpected breakup, or the fear of coming out. Luscious, full-color illustrations by Meryl Rowin are woven throughout, and accompanying each story is a recipe from the writer’s own kitchen. Lev Grossman explains how he survived on “sweet, sour, spicy, salty, unabashedly gluey” General Tso’s tofu after his divorce. Carmen Maria Machado describes learning to care for herself during her confusing young adulthood, beginning with nearly setting her kitchen on fire. Claire Messud tries to understand how her mother gave up dreams of being a lawyer to make “a dressed salad of tiny shrimp and avocado, followed by prune-stuffed pork tenderloin, served with buttered egg noodles” for her family. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie remembers a childhood friend―who later died as a soldier in Nigeria―with a pot of fragrant jollof rice. What makes each tale so moving is not only the deeply personal revelations from celebrated writers, but also the compassion and healing behind the story: the taste of hope.


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This collection of intimate essays by some of America's most well-regarded writers explores how food can help us cope in dark times―whether it be the loss of a parent, the loneliness of moving to a new country, the heartache of an unexpected breakup, or the fear of coming out. Luscious, full-color illustrations by Meryl Rowin are woven throughout, and accompanying each This collection of intimate essays by some of America's most well-regarded writers explores how food can help us cope in dark times―whether it be the loss of a parent, the loneliness of moving to a new country, the heartache of an unexpected breakup, or the fear of coming out. Luscious, full-color illustrations by Meryl Rowin are woven throughout, and accompanying each story is a recipe from the writer’s own kitchen. Lev Grossman explains how he survived on “sweet, sour, spicy, salty, unabashedly gluey” General Tso’s tofu after his divorce. Carmen Maria Machado describes learning to care for herself during her confusing young adulthood, beginning with nearly setting her kitchen on fire. Claire Messud tries to understand how her mother gave up dreams of being a lawyer to make “a dressed salad of tiny shrimp and avocado, followed by prune-stuffed pork tenderloin, served with buttered egg noodles” for her family. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie remembers a childhood friend―who later died as a soldier in Nigeria―with a pot of fragrant jollof rice. What makes each tale so moving is not only the deeply personal revelations from celebrated writers, but also the compassion and healing behind the story: the taste of hope.

30 review for Eat Joy: Stories & Comfort Food from 31 Celebrated Writers

  1. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    I found this book very comforting for myself. These are moments of grief or sadness that various writers have experienced with comforts foods which made them feel better. I quite enjoyed reading this book, and I highly recommend it to all!

  2. 5 out of 5

    The Artisan Geek

    ------------------VIDEO REVIEW------------------ If you're interested in seeing me use a couple of these recipes and review the book, you can check out my video review :) 28/11/19 Such an emotional and raw collection of stories, showcasing how food can heal and connect us to our past. My video review will be up on my Youtube channel tomorrow. You can find me on Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website

  3. 4 out of 5

    Paris (parisperusing)

    This collection features intimate essays from incredible writers — including Alexander Chee, Melissa Febos, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Laura Van Den Berg — sharing the comfort foods that helped get them through tough times. As someone who has always seen cooking more of a cultural expression of self-love, I can certainly see how the act of preparing a home-cooked meal can also be therapeutic and remedial. While I didn’t always associate cooking as intimately as shown here, reading Laura’s essay This collection features intimate essays from incredible writers — including Alexander Chee, Melissa Febos, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Laura Van Den Berg — sharing the comfort foods that helped get them through tough times. As someone who has always seen cooking more of a cultural expression of self-love, I can certainly see how the act of preparing a home-cooked meal can also be therapeutic and remedial. While I didn’t always associate cooking as intimately as shown here, reading Laura’s essay on battling anorexia and seeing her mother through her health struggles with eggy cuisines and Melissa’s romantic, inward self-discovery through writing and the love of an old boyfriend, passion which manifests in a slow-roasted pork dish — despite her placid vegetarianism — really gave the domestic art a new sense of sentimentality. I spent the night reading these stories and these recipes, many of which I’ll be filching for my own kitchen shenanigans soon enough. Thanks, Catapult and Black Balloon Publishing, for gifting me with a finished copy!

  4. 4 out of 5

    tinabel

    A wonderful and lovely collection of short autobiographical stories, centered around one of my favourite things—food! Complete with easy, homey recipes and reminisces about life and love, happiness, hardship and heartbreak, each piece is a bite-sized look into the interior lives of some of the world's most celebrated writers.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Charlott

    3,5 Eat Joy is an anthology bringing together a great group of writers reminiscing about comfort food, food memories, and food which nurtures and sustains. It focusses on the simple meals. Broken up in four sections - Growing Pains, Loss, Healing, and Homecoming - each of the thirty-one writers contributes a brief essay and a recipe. The text is decorated with wonderful water-colour drawings. Understandably, I was very excited about this book because 1) I love good food writing and 2) the author 3,5 Eat Joy is an anthology bringing together a great group of writers reminiscing about comfort food, food memories, and food which nurtures and sustains. It focusses on the simple meals. Broken up in four sections - Growing Pains, Loss, Healing, and Homecoming - each of the thirty-one writers contributes a brief essay and a recipe. The text is decorated with wonderful water-colour drawings. Understandably, I was very excited about this book because 1) I love good food writing and 2) the author list includes some of my favourite writers. I did love reading Carmen Maria Machado's "Meals of My Twenties" in which she described how she learned to care for herself. I was touched by Rosie Schaap's "Friends, Grief, and Green Chilies" about a very special Passover meal and Edwidge Danticat's "A Grain of Comfort" about sharing the last meal with her dying father. Mira Jacob writes beautifully about the relationship with her mother in "Dark Leaves and Warm Milk". Natalie Baszile's "The Boudin Trail" is the last essay in the anthology and it takes some surprising turns. I still think about it. But while I did indeed love some of the essays I did not enjoy the collection as much in total as I had hoped for. Maybe, it is because briefly before I had read The Best American Food Writing 2019 but quite a few of the texts left me wanting more in regards to food writing. Some texts just felt a bit bland or left a bitter aftertaste - not in any good sense (for example, when a straight white cis man writes about the one time he managed to feed his children - his wife is just naturally so much better with these things!).

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Watkins

    Humans have an intimate relationship with food. EAT JOY gives us the stories of some of our most beloved writers as they share big moments in their lives and the recipes that were a part of it. Covering big topics likegrowing pains and loss, to healing and homecoming, these stories are delicious. EAT JOY is a perfect host/hostess gift. Humans have an intimate relationship with food. EAT JOY gives us the stories of some of our most beloved writers as they share big moments in their lives and the recipes that were a part of it. Covering big topics like growing pains and loss, to healing and homecoming, these stories are delicious. EAT JOY is a perfect host/hostess gift.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    A charming (and sometimes heart-breaking or heart-warming depending on subject) collection of essays and recipes from respected authors like Alexander Chee, Porochista Khakpour, Lev Grossman, Carmen Maria Machado, Anthony Doerr, Edwidge Danticat, and Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie. Some recipes are definitely new to me and I want to try them (Mira Jacob provides a chai recipe, Rakesh Satyal has one for pie (I have yet to master pies)) but others are just something simple that brought comfort at a A charming (and sometimes heart-breaking or heart-warming depending on subject) collection of essays and recipes from respected authors like Alexander Chee, Porochista Khakpour, Lev Grossman, Carmen Maria Machado, Anthony Doerr, Edwidge Danticat, and Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie. Some recipes are definitely new to me and I want to try them (Mira Jacob provides a chai recipe, Rakesh Satyal has one for pie (I have yet to master pies)) but others are just something simple that brought comfort at a tough time (one is literally boxed brownie mix, that's it). This would be a perfect addition to any holiday themed basket you might be planning. Thank you Catapult for sending me the review copy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    This book was a delight! The essays are each different, and each is accompanied by a recipe. Sometimes the recipe is simple (pour into bowl, eat) or very complicated (two pages long!), and each recipe is in some way connected to the essay, which appears first. I especially loved the essay by a gay writer who was bullied and found solace in baking. The writing is gorgeous. I won't say the writing in the essays is always as good that that one but the writing is always heart-felt and emotionally This book was a delight! The essays are each different, and each is accompanied by a recipe. Sometimes the recipe is simple (pour into bowl, eat) or very complicated (two pages long!), and each recipe is in some way connected to the essay, which appears first. I especially loved the essay by a gay writer who was bullied and found solace in baking. The writing is gorgeous. I won't say the writing in the essays is always as good that that one but the writing is always heart-felt and emotionally satisfying.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ellyn Lem

    I knew that I was going to enjoy this book from the start since it was a collection of writers that I am familiar with (e.g.,. Edwidge Danticat, Mailie Meloy, etc.) writing about intense food memories and including recipes at the end of their vignettes. After the first piece by Diana Abu-Jaber in which she argues that Arab dishes are being "rebranded as Israeli," which she calls "cultural erasure," I was a little annoyed--um, same region, very similar food, no one is taking "cultural control" I knew that I was going to enjoy this book from the start since it was a collection of writers that I am familiar with (e.g.,. Edwidge Danticat, Mailie Meloy, etc.) writing about intense food memories and including recipes at the end of their vignettes. After the first piece by Diana Abu-Jaber in which she argues that Arab dishes are being "rebranded as Israeli," which she calls "cultural erasure," I was a little annoyed--um, same region, very similar food, no one is taking "cultural control" over naming foods for one set of people over the other. Note to Abu-Jaber, check out the play "The Arab-Israeli Cookbook." But, after that mild annoyance, I was able to be submerged in the personal stories these writers chose to tell, often, some of their lowest moments (e.g., relationship demises), and how food taught them something about themselves and remained a powerful reminder. Not sure which pieces I will remember over the long haul, but Anthony Doerr's description of eating a Duncan Hines brownie mix to stave off starvation on a long camping expedition will likely be one. Danticat as well offered a powerful story of her ailing father wanting some simple white rice, and the problems that happened when she went to serve him. This collection can probably touch everyone. Some of the foods described are quite exotic (e.g., Steamed Japanese Sweet Potato Bowl); others less so, but we care about the foods and learning about their history through the writers' lovingly and honestly giving them meaning.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    2.5ish? Which I'm rounding up to 3 because of Colum McCann. This is a book of essays about comfort food (and accompanying recipes). But it feels inconsistent. Some of the essays are beautiful and poignant, others feel like the essays one scrolls through when trying to get to the recipe at the bottom of the page on a food blog. I say this as someone who wrote many essays I'm sure other people scrolled through while reading my ill-conceived, briefly lived, and poorly photographed food blog. Maybe 2.5ish? Which I'm rounding up to 3 because of Colum McCann. This is a book of essays about comfort food (and accompanying recipes). But it feels inconsistent. Some of the essays are beautiful and poignant, others feel like the essays one scrolls through when trying to get to the recipe at the bottom of the page on a food blog. I say this as someone who wrote many essays I'm sure other people scrolled through while reading my ill-conceived, briefly lived, and poorly photographed food blog. Maybe this book (sadly like many of the books this book club chooses) just isn't for me. Maybe I preferred the essays that were stories about food followed by a recipe, rather than recipes that had a long preamble to justify their existence. That said, I loved a few of the essays: - Leaves by Dina Abu-Jabar - Long Sleeves, by Melissa Febos - Meals of My Twenties by Carmen Maria Machado - Dessert by Colum McCann (maybe my favorite--I'm not sad about buying this book because this essay exists) - General Tso's Tofu by Lev Grossman (not only is the essay good, the recipe feels like a continuation of the essay) - A Grain of Comfort by Edwidge Danticat (heartbreakingly beautiful) - Calculated Destruction by Porochista Khakpour (like Lev Grossman's essay, the following recipe is an integral part of the piece) - Depression Pickles by Maile Meloy

  11. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen Alice

    An endearing and thoughtful compilation of essays from a legitimately great assortment of writers. Obviously I am heavily invested in both books and food and this combined the two of those interests admirably. Would make a great holiday gift for any foodies in your life.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    For lovers of food and reading. Short but insightful essays on the role and power of food in our lives. It also has recipes which I can’t wait to try.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    There are moments in our lives which imprint on our souls, and often when we recollect them, our memories entangle with sensory information. The visceral quality of food as it relates to memory is unparalleled—sometimes we eat our favorite foods as comfort during grief, or a dish prepared by a friend becomes healing food from then on. Eat Joy is a lively collection of autobiographical stories in which food plays a starring role (recipes included—and they are lovely!). A diverse selection of There are moments in our lives which imprint on our souls, and often when we recollect them, our memories entangle with sensory information. The visceral quality of food as it relates to memory is unparalleled—sometimes we eat our favorite foods as comfort during grief, or a dish prepared by a friend becomes healing food from then on. Eat Joy is a lively collection of autobiographical stories in which food plays a starring role (recipes included—and they are lovely!). A diverse selection of celebrated authors tell stories of growth and loss, healing and homecoming, and the resulting collection is nothing short of magical.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ellen | spoilerkween

    Eating is truly one of the things I take the most pleasure out of in life, and joy is one of my favorite words, and y’all are going to want to get your hands on this one. It has stories from so many wonderful authors including @cheemobile, @carmenmmachado, @chimamanda_adichie and lots more. They all bring something different to the table (lol) about how good impacts our lives in different ways — it’s so much more than just nourishment that sustains us. Certain meals contain memories and give us Eating is truly one of the things I take the most pleasure out of in life, and joy is one of my favorite words, and y’all are going to want to get your hands on this one. It has stories from so many wonderful authors including @cheemobile, @carmenmmachado, @chimamanda_adichie and lots more. They all bring something different to the table (lol) about how good impacts our lives in different ways — it’s so much more than just nourishment that sustains us. Certain meals contain memories and give us strength. Such an impressive collection.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Catapult

    An illustrated anthology of essays about the comfort foods—and recipes—that helped writers survive painful times in their lives. With contributions from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Anthony Doerr, Colum McCann, Lev Grossman, Carmen Maria Machado, Claire Messud, Maile Meloy, Alexander Chee, Edwidge Danticat, and many more.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    Eat Joy: Stories & Comfort Food from 31 Celebrated Writers is an anthology of thirty-one personal essays with accompanying recipes, which was collected and edited by Natalie Eve Garrett. This anthology is a compilation of personal essays written by authors about their feeling towards bookstores and booksellers. For the most part, I really like most of these contributions. Eat Joy: Stories & Comfort Food from 31 Celebrated Writers is an anthology collection of thirty-one personal essays Eat Joy: Stories & Comfort Food from 31 Celebrated Writers is an anthology of thirty-one personal essays with accompanying recipes, which was collected and edited by Natalie Eve Garrett. This anthology is a compilation of personal essays written by authors about their feeling towards bookstores and booksellers. For the most part, I really like most of these contributions. Eat Joy: Stories & Comfort Food from 31 Celebrated Writers is an anthology collection of thirty-one personal essays writing about foods that represents them or gives them comfort. Written by thirty-one different authors, this collection of personal essays about food at different points in their lives, Garrett seems to choose dishes that bring comfort over complexity as it is usually the simplest of dishes that brings the most comfort. Garrett has selected the best kind of culinary writing – unfussy recipes and heartfelt stories that use food as an avenue for reflection. Like most anthologies there are weaker contributions and Eat Joy: Stories & Comfort Food from 31 Celebrated Writers is not an exception. Comparatively speaking, there are a few essays that aren't as written as well as others, but it is written well nevertheless and it didn’t dampen my joy in reading this anthology or my willingness to try some of these simple recipes. All in all, Eat Joy: Stories & Comfort Food from 31 Celebrated Writers is a wonderful collection of personal essays and recipes that celebrates the meaning of comfort food and humanity's relationship with it, through the view of thirty-one notable authors.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Fred

    This might be the most misnamed book ever. For a book ostensibly about food and joy, it's awfully depressing. Food as a link to a refugee's past; as a balm for illness, as consolation in times of heartbreak, depression, an grief; as a way to salvage a broken relationship, to comfort a dying man, a divorcee alone in his apartment -- there isn't one story here that speaks to joy. Food connected to the sorrow of dealing with Alzheimer's, accompaniment to cremating a father, to remind one of the sad This might be the most misnamed book ever. For a book ostensibly about food and joy, it's awfully depressing. Food as a link to a refugee's past; as a balm for illness, as consolation in times of heartbreak, depression, an grief; as a way to salvage a broken relationship, to comfort a dying man, a divorcee alone in his apartment -- there isn't one story here that speaks to joy. Food connected to the sorrow of dealing with Alzheimer's, accompaniment to cremating a father, to remind one of the sad passage of time, of dealing with bullying - these are meaningful tales, but joyless.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    This was a really quick read. Stories about comfort food with a recipe included at the end of each story. The stories were divided into 4 categories - Growing Pains, Loss, Healing, and Homecoming. My favorite one was the story by Anthony Doerr, but there were several really good ones I liked. It's interesting to think about how much food ties into comfort and how comfort can be for something bad or to celebrate something good. Overall, a good, quick read that made me think about my own comfort This was a really quick read. Stories about comfort food with a recipe included at the end of each story. The stories were divided into 4 categories - Growing Pains, Loss, Healing, and Homecoming. My favorite one was the story by Anthony Doerr, but there were several really good ones I liked. It's interesting to think about how much food ties into comfort and how comfort can be for something bad or to celebrate something good. Overall, a good, quick read that made me think about my own comfort food and how much cooking is tied to love.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sabs

    There are some delightful stories in here, and the concept is wonderful. Short stories from respected authors, accompanied by recipes. The only problem is that most of the stories are very short, so I devoured them too quickly, just like chips. I don't really recall what each one tastes like, but as a whole snack it's tasty. It's a shame, as there really were a few that stood out more than others, I just can't tell you what they are.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    A great series of essays from a wide variety of authors on their relationships with food. Food hold so many memories and stories, and this book feels like a special insight into their lives. Some essays are funny, some touching, some a mix of both. A recipe follows each essay. Perfect for any food and literature lover in your life

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Rich and warm collection This was a very engaging read. I enjoyed the diversity of stories about food and how people are brought together, and in some cases held together, by their relationship with food.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lily

    I have not read a lot of the authors featured in this book, and what with only a snippet of each one's life, it isn't that interesting to me. Each has a recipe featured, but most of those are not palatable enough for me to try. Some are pretty standard or obvious recipes, too.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Elly Ort

    Very informative food-wise and different cultures Interesting to read about different authors and why they enjoy and create foods that mean something to them. I could identify with some of the stories, but not to all!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    The stories are amazing. I like the concept, but don't read this for the recipes...except Lev Grossman's General Tso's Tofu. That recipe looks like the man has put some serious time into perfecting the art of spicy sugar sauce to pour over tofu and broccoli.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Abhishek Kona

    A series of essays about how food helped the narrators heal or mourn. Each essay ends with a recipe. Only a handful of essays had an impact on me. Some of the essays are very similar to each other. Some are just an excuse leading up to the essay.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bess

    What a delightful book!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    What a DELIGHT of a collection - so thoughtfully curated and arranged, with moments of deep humor and deep poignancy and I just!! Gotta go cook something now!!!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Libby

    Not for me. More down and dreary than I expected, given the word "Joy" in the title. (Some editor or publicist won that debate.) And the recipes are casual, ie, no pan size given for brownies.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lud

    Very thoughtful collection from an outstanding group of writers.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Einat

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