Title: The Gastronomy of Marriage: A Memoir of Food and Love
Author: By Michelle Maisto, 2009
Info: 236 pages; Softcover $15.00 US/$18.95 CDN
Publisher: Random House, New York NY
Reviewed by: Sandy Alexander for Good Cooking, November, 2009

The review---

In The Gastronomy of Marriage, Michelle Maisto chronicles the year leading up to her marriage, using the negotiations between her and her fianc about household responsibilities, particularly when it comes to dinner preparation, as metaphor for the adjustments we all make in moving from being alone to becoming part of a couple. The focus is all on the food and the struggles that ensue as they blend their households while attempting to maintain their own identities.

This struck me as a particularly apt story for our time. It is set in New York City, long known as a “melting pot”. Much of the tale revolves around Michelle’s Italian ancestry and her fianc ’s Chinese background, and their attempts to integrate these varied aspects into their relationship. Nominations for dinner are as likely to be pasta as they are to be stir-fry; his love of meat and her vegetarianism complicate the efforts.

The story is told in sometimes excruciating detail, but if you are a food lover, you will enjoy the combination of narrative description of preparation of dishes along with Michelle’s varied recipes. It was a bit reminiscent of Julie and Julia but without Julia. In a Facebook/Twitter age, perhaps we all expect to read this level of information about everyone!

I read the book in the late afternoon one day, so many of the food images made me quite hungry. Oddly though, when I was done and had read about recipes from pasta with broccoli rabe to dofu wa, the item that stuck with me was corn pudding. I tried the quick, easy recipe and it was very tasty; a fine coda to an enjoyable read.

Recipe tested---

This recipe likely came from the spine of a box of corn-muffin mix, though it was given to me by a girl who sublet my roommate's bedroom one summer. She and her boyfriend left stains on the couch cushions and scuffed the kitchen walls where a nicer apartment would have had a chair rail. But this recipe is so brainlessly easy, and so delicious warm or cold, that after I made it a few times I considered us squared up. She was actually a very nice girl.

2 eggs
1 16-ounce can corn, drained
1 16-ounce can creamed corn
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 box cheap corn-muffin mix

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-size bowl, beat the eggs and then add the corn, creamed corn, melted butter, and muffin mix (which is to say, put an ingredient or two between the melted butter and the eggs, so they don't start to, cook). Stir until just combined. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the top is golden and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

What is in that fifty-nine-cent box of muffin mix, anyway? Cheap cornmeal, sweeteners, and a leavening agent? While it would partially defeat the point of how simple this recipe is, a more clever person might benefit from figuring out how to replace the muffin mix with a good, coarsely ground cornmeal, sugar, baking soda or powder, and some salt.