Cover of the Book

Title: Bittersweet, Lesson's from My Mother's Kitchen
Author: Matt McAllester, 2009
214 pages; Hardcover PhotographyBlack & White
Publisher: Random House, 1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
Reviewed by, Chef John Vyhnanek and May, 2009

The review--- Bittersweet isn't a cookbook with recipes. It's a look into the author's remembrances of a mother who could cook and perhaps his feeling guilty for not picking up all of her secrets before she died.

A trip through time, Matt McAllester's view goes from the almost present, 3 years have passed, since his mother Ann, who had struggled with mental illness and alcoholism, died suddenly. Remembering the moment he got the call and when the coroner released the body must have haunted Matt in a regretful way. What could he and his sister done earlier to help? This is a question for many who were, are and will be in the same situation sometime in their lives. More remembering and we see that Matt likes to cook, he's good at it but not as good as he could be and mother lets him know! Ann was terribly fond of cookbook author Elizabeth David and often chided Matt about following her recipes. Yes, he followed the recipes, but when he finished he didn't remember what they were. He was simply following recipes in the fashion of being instructed.

Matt traveled often to what seemed exotic areas. He is a writer and extensively covered several wars. Experienced and lauded as a great writer, he brings you to tears in some portions of the book and makes you chuckle in others. Matt's Mum often prepared a lot of good food with a French twist. In later years she gave way to lesser standards as her health began to fail, she gave up.

As sad as it is, it has a grip on your mind and is a "I can't put it down" book. Matt had to write this to clear his mind, perhaps of some guilt, and to refresh is soul for a new beginning, with one wishhis Mum would make one more batch of strawberry ice cream!