Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites by Kate Christensen

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  • MichiganTrumpet on October 29, 2020

    Author Kate Christensen's memoir of life growing up in the 70's and 80's, loving food, struggling with romance and sense of self, and coming to terms with her complicated interaction with family including a father lost to her while young. All of this strikes a resonant chord with me. While there are references to food and recipes throughout, this is not a 'foodie' memoir, a la Michael Ruhlman, Anthony Bourdain, Gabrielle Hamilton, et al. Food takes a subsidiary role, not a primary one. The focus here is largely on relationships and personal growth. I would love to read any memoir of her mother -- a fascinating character.

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  • ISBN 10 0385536267
  • ISBN 13 9780385536264
  • Linked ISBNs
  • Published Jul 09 2013
  • Format Hardcover
  • Page Count 368
  • Language English
  • Countries United States
  • Publisher Doubleday Books
  • Imprint Doubleday Books

Publishers Text

From acclaimed novelist Kate Christensen, Blue Plate Special is a mouthwatering literary memoir about an unusual upbringing and the long, winding path to happiness.

“To taste fully is to live fully.” For Kate Christensen, food and eating have always been powerful connectors to self and world—“a subterranean conduit to sensuality, memory, desire.” Her appetites run deep; in her own words, she spent much of her life as “a hungry, lonely, wild animal looking for happiness and stability.” Now, having found them at last, in this passionate feast of a memoir she reflects upon her journey of innocence lost and wisdom gained, mistakes made and lessons learned, and hearts broken and mended.

In the tradition of M. F. K. Fisher, Laurie Colwin, and Ruth Reichl, Blue Plate Special is a narrative in which food—eating it, cooking it, reflecting on it—becomes the vehicle for unpacking a life. Christensen explores her history of hunger—not just for food but for love and confidence and a sense of belonging—with a profound honesty, starting with her unorthodox childhood in 1960s Berkeley as the daughter of a mercurial legal activist who ruled the house with his fists. After a whirlwind adolescent awakening, Christensen strikes out to chart her own destiny within the literary world and the world of men, both equally alluring and dangerous. Food of all kinds, from Ho Hos to haute cuisine, remains an evocative constant throughout, not just as sustenance but as a realm of experience unto itself, always reflective of what is going on in her life. She unearths memories—sometimes joyful, sometimes painful—of the love between mother and daughter, sister and sister, and husband and wife, and of the times when the bonds of love were broken. Food sustains her as she endures the pain of these ruptures and fuels her determination not to settle for anything less than the love and contentment for which she’s always yearned.

The physical and emotional sensuality that defines Christensen’s fiction resonates throughout the pages of Blue Plate Special. A vibrant celebration of life in all its truth and complexity, this book is about embracing the world through the transformative power of food: it’s about listening to your appetites, about having faith, and about learning what is worth holding on to and what is not.



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