As it was for M. F. K. Fisher in The Gastronomical Me, food is more than a metaphor in The Bread and the Knife. It is the organizing principle of an existence. Starting with "A Is for Al Dente," the loosely linked chapters evoke an alphabet of food memories that recount a woman’s emotional growth from the challenges of youth to professional accomplishment, marriage, and divorce. Betrayal is embodied in an overripe melon, her awakening in a Béarnaise sauce. Passion fruit juice portends the end of a first marriage, while tarte tatin offers redemption. Each letter serves up a surprising variation on the struggle for self-knowledge, the joy and pain of familial and romantic love, and food’s astonishing ability to connect us with both the living and the dead.
Ranging from her grandmother's suburban kitchen to an elegant New York restaurant, a longhouse in Borneo, and a palace in Rajasthan, The Bread and the Knife charts the vicissitudes of a woman forced to swallow some hard truths about herself while discovering that the universe can dispense surprising second chances.
The book includes six recipes that run the gamut from "Crepes filled with Huitlacoche" to her stepfather’s homely “Stromboli Stuffing,” including a couple that are more entertaining to read about than to prepare, like liquified olives with pimento.
SubtitleA Life in 26 Bites
AuthorBy Dawn Drzal
Published4 September 2018
Dimensions5.50 x 8.25in.
About the author
Dawn Drzal, a former cookbook editor, has published articles and essays in the New York Times, the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Food & Wine, O., and the Antioch Review. Between 2006 and 2016, she was a regular contributor to the New York Times Book Review. Her essays have been anthologized in, among other places, Eat Memory: Great Writers at the Table, edited by Amanda Hesser. She lives in New York City with her son.
“Dawn Drzal has captured the joy and poetry of feeding and being fed—loving and being loved, however imperfectly. The Bread and the Knife is a lexicon of life and the food that sustains us through each joy and sorrow. I want to spend hours in her pages and at her table.”—Giulia Melucci, author of I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti
“What I love about The Bread and the Knife is how food inserts itself into our lives, lingering to be recalled when needed. While this is Dawn Drzal’s personal story, it makes me think that surely we must all have our own versions of how food walks in and out of our lives along with loves and losses.” —Deborah Madison, author of Vegetable Literacy and In My Kitchen