Thursday, November 3, 2011

Columbia Journalism Review :: Stirring It Up with Molly Ivins

Stirring It Up with Molly Ivins
By Ellen Sweets
Buy It Now
A Cook’s Tour with Molly Ivins
A recipe-laden memoir of the columnist’s life and times
By Nicola Kean

Stirring It Up with Molly Ivins: A Memoir with Recipes | By Ellen Sweets | University of Texas Press | 288 pages, $29.95

Molly Ivins was many things; columnist, civil libertarian, “professional Texan.” But she also had a reputation as a fabulous cook and legendary hostess. It’s this side of the writer that friend and fellow foodie Ellen Sweets attempts to capture in her new book, Stirring It Up With Molly Ivins.

The book charts Ivins and Sweets’s friendship, which lasted from their initial meeting at an ACLU function in 1989 to Ivins’s death from cancer in 2007, describing many memorable meals along the way. In fact, Stirring It Up, which includes thirty-five recipes scattered throughout, could best be described as a portrait through food. It’s an interesting concept for a book—but also a limiting one.

In his introduction, Lou Dubose, who co-authored three books with Ivins, expresses his original misgivings about the concept of Stirring It Up. That it was neither cookbook nor memoir troubled him, but, he writes, he grew more fond of the idea because it presented a side of Ivins that was not usually public. Sweets herself addresses the issue in the book’s opening chapters:

For some, a Molly-and-food book almost feels too small for her until you consider the kick-ass job she could do on a quiche Lorraine, creamy chilled cucumber soup, a robust coq au vin, or ratatouille.

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