22 March 2014

Weekend Cooking: Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie edited by Peggy Wolff

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Fried Waleye and Cherry Pie edited by Peggy WolffLast year at BookExpo America (yes, almost a full year ago), I stopped by the University of Nebraska Press booth because I love their books, especially the Flyover Fiction Series and the At the Table Series.

I've already mentioned Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie: Midwestern Writers on Food, edited by Peggy Wolff, but I never did get around to reviewing it. My principal stumbling block has been grappling with how to review a collection of 30 short essays/memoirs from a broad range of writers. Clearly, I couldn't discuss each piece separately.

Instead, I offer you some brief thoughts and a handful of quotes. The bottom line is that I loved every single one of the personal stories in this collection. Yes, some struck a stronger chord than others, but the displaced Midwesterner in me could relate to much of what these authors shared.

The topics range from fast-food to fair food, from local diners to home-cooked farm food, and from college town food carts to the global flavors of immigrant families. The authors are just as varied and include novelists, such as Jacquelyn Mitchard; food writers and editors, like Carol Mighton Haddix, and even radio stars, like NPR's Peter Sagal. A fondness for the Midwest and a deep connection with the power of food link these evocative essays.

Some of the stories were funny and some were nostalgic, but almost all of them recalled family and friends and the centrality of food in the rhythm of life. Here are four passages to give you a taste.

Elizabeth Berg, novelist:
I believe that cooking is about more than taking care of a certain unrelenting biological need. I believe it is spiritual, and calming, and centering. I believe that making something with your own hands and feeding it to the ones you love is communicating something that can't be communicated any other way. (p. 6)
Peggy Wolff, filmmaker and food writer:
Here it is, the real deal, the culinary destiny of the local Montmorency [sour] cherry, baked in a show-stopping, irresistible, flaky double crust. This is a party worth going after, saving for, putting all your eggs in one basket for. The top is smooth as a confectioner's toffee candy, the edges are perfectly pinched. (p. 126)
Douglas Bauer, writer and professor:
Our farmhouse sat atop a slight rise in the middle of the acreage. The land, as lawn, sloped away from the foundation and flattened out in all directions until it reached the surrounding corn and soybean fields, then continued extremely into the four distances. A wide, pillared porch wrapped around the north and east sides of the house. As a boy, during the summer months, I sometimes sat for a time on the east porch railing and, if my father and grandfather Bauer happened to be working in the field that was my view, I looked out to watch the two of them on their tractors moving the day's tending implements along the Iowa horizon. (p. 185)
Robin Mather, writer and journalist:
Of all the glories that autumn has to offer, however, the biggest and foremost in my mind is apples. I'm in love with apples, in love especially with names of the older varieties: Sheepnose, Wolf River, Macoun, Seek-No-Further, Cox's Orange Pippin--poetical names that whisper of older times and simpler values. Hundreds of apple varieties still grow all over the country--apples meant for sauce, or pies, or eating out of hand; apples meant for long-keeping or for making into cider; apples meant for drying or for pairing with cheeses. (p. 210)
Keep Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie on your nightstand and vow to read an essay a night. I guarantee you'll have a month of sweet dreams. You might even be tempted to try one of the recipes. The buttermilk doughnuts with cider glaze are calling to me.

Published by University of Nebraska Press, 2013
ISBN-13: 9780803236455
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Tina 3/22/14, 6:42 AM  

As I was reading your selected passages I thought, yes...something for the nightstand. I like the collections of essays like this. I can tell Douglas Bauer's essay will be one I turn to straight off.

Tea 3/22/14, 6:51 AM  

Love the quotes from the essays. I especially like the apple one although, Elizabeth Berg is one of my favorite authors. The donuts with cider glaze would call to me too. Like your play on words: "to your taste."

jama 3/22/14, 7:31 AM  

Oh, must get this. I love reading food-related essays. Ditto on the Elizabeth Berg love and siren call of buttermilk donuts with cider glaze.

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 3/22/14, 7:39 AM  

I love food essays as well! Love what Elizabeth Berg said about cooking being "calming and centering"…it is definitely that for me!

Marg 3/22/14, 8:59 AM  

Love the idea of having a book of essays that you can just dig into each night.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity 3/22/14, 9:11 AM  

Hmmm--on the nightstand or the breakfast table? I think I would get too hungry reading this in bed. Sounds like a delight!

rhonda 3/22/14, 11:00 AM  

I just moved this to top of tbr pile.its the type of book I love to dip into.

(Diane) bookchickdi 3/22/14, 11:34 AM  

This looks like a good way to end the evening, reading one of these essays. Thanks for the tip, I am unfamiliar with this press.

Carole 3/22/14, 2:39 PM  

Just left you a little side dish this time. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

Stacy at The Novel Life 3/22/14, 6:22 PM  

i love the quote with the apples! what a great way to drift off to sweet dreams ~ reading an essay a night!

Joy 3/22/14, 7:35 PM  

That sounds delightful! Living in the Midwest, I tend to forget to notice our food traditions!


Tanya @ Moms Small Victories 3/22/14, 8:56 PM  

Thanks for hosting. I like reading essay collections, they are easy to put down and pick back up again. I haven't read this one but look forward to it. Sounds great!

bermudaonion 3/22/14, 9:26 PM  

This sounds terrific! I love the title!

Anonymous,  3/22/14, 10:39 PM  

Sounds like a great book

Couscous & Consciousness 3/23/14, 3:42 AM  

This book sounds like a great read, Beth - thanks for sharing it with us.

I was totally captivated by the quote from Elizabeth Berg, as it so perfectly describes exactly how I feel about cooking.

Peaceful Reader 3/23/14, 9:53 AM  

This would make a perfect book for my foodie mother. I could preview it first before wrapping it up.

Sue Jackson 3/23/14, 10:01 AM  

Sounds like a fun book! I love Elizabeth Berg's quote and heartily agree!


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Meg @ write meg! 3/25/14, 9:49 AM  

A very delicious read, sounds like! I don't always reach for story collections, but I think I would really enjoy a collection of food writing.

Rachel 3/26/14, 9:53 AM  

My husband just finished reading this collection and enjoyed it very much. He would read me little snippets as we were cuddled up in our bed for the nightly pre-snooze reading session.

Laurie C 3/28/14, 7:22 PM  

I wonder if Calvin Trillin has an essay in this book; I think he was originally from the Midwest. I like the sound of this essay collection a lot and I don't remember your mentioning it before, so I'm glad you posted about it again, eventually!

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