Dawn Lerman grew up on the North Side of Chicago in the 1960s in a large Jewish family that was intent on always making sure the best, homemade food was served. Lerman would spend weekends at her grandmother Beauty’s house nearby, where she learned the proper way to make every Jewish delicacy from borsht to kugel, and then some. Lerman was closer to her grandmother than her mother, who was less affectionate, and her father, who had a full-time job as a copywriter.
When Lerman’s dad takes an advertising job in New York, the family is uprooted and must adjust to their new life, which includes a public school with deplorable cafeteria food — unlike the fresh kosher food of her old school. In every chapter, Lerman uses food as a vehicle to illustrate her outlook on life and how each dish helps her relate to others in her family. A recipe concludes each chapter. Lerman alternates between lighter and more serious chapters dealing with her father’s obesity and the various diets he uses to lose weight. He eventually heads to Duke University for six months to go on the rice diet, which helps him significantly.
Now a health blogger at The New York Times, Lerman effectively conveys the constantly
changing emotions of a young girl through the use of food as a metaphor for love. The reader can almost empathize with all of the changes she goes through because of her detailed descriptions of how each meal tastes. It is clear Lerman’s life is centered around the kitchen table, and she gives the reader a seat at hers.