Slices of Life, A Food Writer Cooks Through Many a Conundrum

041114_mishmash_bookBy Leah Eskin
Running Press, 408 pages

Sometimes it’s best to describe something in terms of what it’s not.

In that vein, readers looking for the newest entrant in the cookbook genre of today — think coffee-table tomes of glossy photos that make mouths water and desires burn — will not find it in culinary columnist Leah Eskin’s “Slices of Life.” Nor will they find in its paragraphs the encyclopedic collection of yesteryear, as in Irma S. Rombauer’s still-in-print classic, “Joy of Cooking.”

What Eskin, a Baltimore resident, instead achieves is not unlike her “Home on the Range” column found in the Chicago Tribune and, every now and then, in the pages of The Baltimore Sun. Her cookbook is more autobiography, representing the epicurean adventures of a writer who also loves to cook. And while there’s nothing inherently Jewish about her menu — recipes for decidedly non-kosher dishes abound — her journey is distinctly a Jewish one, including such episodes as her foray into the intimidating world of brisket and a full-hearted attempt at a traditional Shabbat meal, only to be thwarted by the demands and last-minute interruptions of life.

“This book isn’t about how to raise the perfect child or set the perfect table or even turn out the perfect dinner party,” Eskin admitted. “It’s about normal, messy, frustrating, interesting life.”

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