The Art of Eating InThe Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Store by Cathy Erway
Published by Gotham, an imprint of Penguin

Twenty-something Brooklynite Cathy Erway realizes one day that she’s spending an obscene amount of money eating out for three meals a day, almost every day. There’s good reason for this, of course – New York has some of the best restaurants and fast-food type places in the entire world, so she’s happy to take advantage of all the options available to her in this fabulously foodie city. But she suddenly realizes that it’s just becoming too expensive and unhealthy to live this way, so she decides to cook every single thing she eats in her own kitchen for one year, and then ends up sticking with it for two. Along the way she discovers food co-ops, farmers markets, supper clubs, and more, and she shares her experiences and recipes with readers in The Art of Eating In.

I’ve been reading Cathy’s blog, Not Eating Out In New York, for a while now, so when I saw that she had written a book along these same lines, I happily devoured it as quickly as I could get my hands on it. Now, if you know me well, you will know that I do love eating out. I stay far away from fast food, but I love trying new restaurants and indulging in my cravings for my favorite places (Chipotle comes to mind) on a semi-frequent basis. However, I also love to cook. I’m not fantastic in the kitchen, but I can figure out most recipes and typically whip something up at least three nights a week. What I loved about this book is that it inspired me to do more.

Reading this book made me want to cook more, to shop at farmers markets more, to find interesting and unique recipes and attempt them in my kitchen, and to look at some of my favorite restaurant food and attempt to recreate those dishes at home. For the duration of Erway’s project, if she was craving some type of food, she’d just research how to make it, and make it for herself. Simple as that. Indian food? Check. Mexican food? Check. Chinese? Check. Et cetera. It was inspiring to me because so often I assume that because I’ve never made a certain type of food before, or because a dish contains exotic or interesting ingredients that I haven’t heard of, I won’t be able to make it myself. I was inspired to go outside of my comfort zone and attempt to cook new things. I loved that.

The other great thing about this book is that Cathy Erway is extremely likable. She has a casual, honest way of writing that made me feel like I was getting to know her on a personal level. It felt like she was chatting to a friend, not dictating a book. The writing style is realistic and really helps the reader get into the book. Perfect for a memoir such as this one. Last, there are recipes! I didn’t make any of them (yet) so I won’t share any here, but I will say that some of her most interesting meals are the ones she provides recipes for, which is very cool. It gives the reader the opportunity to try some of her experiments in his/her own kitchen.

I would definitely recommend The Art of Eating In. Cathy Erway has written an engaging, interesting memoir that will give readers a lot of food for thought (ha!). And if you haven’t already checked out Erway’s blog, definitely do so! She has more recipes and stuff there too.

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