Jennifer Reese
November 03, 2006 AT 05:00 AM EST

The World in My Kitchen

Current Status
In Season
Colette Rossant

We gave it a B-

In 1956, the newly wed Colette Rossant moved from her native Paris to New York City and, apparently, nearly starved. As she writes in The World in My Kitchen, she spat out the soft pretzel she bought in Central Park (”It was disgusting! Chewy, salty, with a taste of gasoline”), cringed at her mother-in-law’s tuna sandwich (”A sickening beige…I nearly choked”), and recoiled at her first sundae (”far too sweet…the cherry inedible”). What was a finicky femme to do? She explored Chinatown markets, learned to sauté long beans, befriended Calvin Trillin (”She is so far above frozen food, that I always suspected that she may not keep ice cubes,” he wrote in 1978’s Alice, Let’s Eat), and published cookbooks. Rossant shares some cute tales, but her prose could use some polish, and she ends the memoir with an image staler than a Central Park pretzel: She and her brood sit down to a Christmas feast with ”wonderful, pungent carrot and ginger soup” as Rossant gushes: ”Food in our family seems to still be the catalyst for bringing us together.”

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