With the holidays now a sweet memory, my cookbooks are back on the shelf, and it's time to read for fun. But a true foodie can't leave the kitchen for long. A new novel (with recipes, of course) has me giggling as I rest my weary bones, and have I got a tzimmes for you.
Based on a true story, "Cooking for Love" (iUniverse) is a fun romp by nationally known journalist and food writer Sharon Boorstin, author of the touching memoir, "Let Us Eat Cake" (HarperCollins).
Miriam Epstein Levy is a married Jewish cookbook author who fantasizes about food, while her divorced best friend, Kate McGrath, fantasizes about an old flame. When Kate Googles her now-married former lover and he invites her for a rendezvous in Malaysia – a Muslim country yet – she begs Miriam to come along. But here's the kicker: these two adventuresses are not 25 or even 35 – they're 49.
"Women in their 40s and 50s are not too old to have fun," said Boorstin, whose manuscript was turned down by New York publishers, claiming there was no market in this age group for fast-paced, sexy "Chick Lit." Undeterred, Boorstin took the rebuff as a challenge and published it herself, and, in one day, an e-mail campaign catapulted "Cooking for Love" to sales rank No. 23 on Barnes and Nobles' Web site
"Women in their 40s, 50s and beyond apparently agree with me that there is a market for a novel that deals in a fun way with the problems we face – for starters, that we're getting older," Boorstin said.
When Jewish heroine Miriam gets off the plane in Kuala Lampur in her sensible brown Naturalizers, she's there only as moral support for her eager-for-love friend, Kate, who sports glamorous clothes, newly lifted upper lids and a better-than-Botox, Restylaned brow. And this gal's thongs have nothing to do with feet.
But Boorstin leaves no balabusta behind when it comes to adventure. While Miriam's thoughts seldom stray from food – a bikini wax reminds her of Grandma Estelle plucking a chicken – she claims her share of the, shall we say, action. Where once her ingenuity was confined to exploits of the kitchen kind – cashews and ginger in her latkes, dried cranberries in her tzimmes – Miriam emerges as a bold heroine, and Boorstin emerges as the consummate storyteller to stir up this wickedly hilarious brew.
"Cooking for Love" is available at www.sharonboorstin.com and www.bn.com. The author will be signing books at the Yiddishkayt Family Festival on Sun., Oct. 10, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Plaza, Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, 244 S. San Pedro St., Los Angeles. For more information, visit yiddishkaytla.org.
Judy Bart Kancigor is the author of "Melting Pot Memories" and can be found at www.cookingjewish.com.