In this warm collection of personal essays and recipes, best-selling author Ann Hood nourishes both our bodies and our souls.
From her Italian American childhood through singlehood, raising and feeding a growing family, divorce, and a new marriage to food writer Michael Ruhlman, Ann Hood has long appreciated the power of a good meal. Growing up, she tasted love in her grandmother’s tomato sauce and dreamed of her mother’s special-occasion Fancy Lady Sandwiches. Later, the kitchen became the heart of Hood’s own home. She cooked pork roast to warm her first apartment, used two cups of dried basil for her first attempt at making pesto, taught her children how to make their favorite potatoes, found hope in her daughter’s omelet after a divorce, and fell in love again—with both her husband and his foolproof chicken stock.
Hood tracks her lifelong journey in the kitchen with twenty-seven heartfelt essays, each accompanied by a recipe (or a few). In “Carbonara Quest,” searching for the perfect spaghetti helped her cope with lonely nights as a flight attendant. In the award-winning essay “The Golden Silver Palate,” she recounts the history of her fail-safe dinner party recipe for Chicken Marbella—and how it did fail her when she was falling in love. Hood’s simple, comforting recipes also include her mother’s famous meatballs, hearty Italian Beef Stew, classic Indiana Fried Chicken, the perfect grilled cheese, and a deliciously summery peach pie.
With Hood’s signature humor and tenderness, Kitchen Yarns spills tales of loss and starting from scratch, family love and feasts with friends, and how the perfect meal is one that tastes like home.
In this moving collection of essays, Hood (The Knitting Circle), now in her 60s, looks back on her life through the lens of her love of food and cooking. Hood grew up in Providence, R.I., in an Italian-American family that loved food, with her grandmother doing the cooking. Hood's father, who was in the Navy, loved to cook but his rather pedestrian repertoire ranged from runny mashed potatoes to lopsided cake; her mother, who worked for a time in a candy factory, was more adept in the kitchen, making elegant "fancy lady" sandwiches and pies (her lemon meringue pie and meatball recipes are among the many included here). The essays reference major life events, revealing how preparing food helped Hood deal with the death of her older brother and the death of her five-year-old daughter from virulent form of strep ("Now I was cooking to keep from losing my mind from grief," she says while making pork roast with garlic). Cooking also inspired such happy memories as baking with her children or preparing meals for friends. Hood covers her teens as a department store Jordan Marsh girl, her early adulthood as a TWA flight attendant, motherhood, and her recent marriage to food writer Michael Ruhlman. Hood's sharp essays emphasize food as emotional nourishment, bringing family and friends together both to celebrate the joys and to heal the wounds of life.