Life with S'chug
by Einat Admony
Artisan Books, 288 pp., $29.95
Named after one of her two restaurants in downtown Manhattan, Einat Admony’s Balaboosta: Bold Mediterranean Recipes to Feed the People You Love weaves together an eclectic collection of recipes with personal vignettes of growing up in Israel and of life as a professional chef, mother, and wife in New York City. Admony, who is now opening a third restaurant in the West Village, also cooks for her kids, wakes up at night to concoct elaborate sandwiches for her husband, and cannot hold back from inviting friends over for dinner in her family’s Brooklyn loft several times a week. Apart from owning up to being unable to shed those extra 40 pounds, she seems capable of doing it all.
Having grown into a genre in its own right, the food memoir, complete with the prerequisite black-and-white photographs of elderly family members, poignant anecdotes, and nostalgic reminiscences, is only as entertaining as its protagonist. High-spirited, feisty, and down-to-earth, Admony is the kind of woman who comforts herself over heartbreak with a batch of sufganiyot, noting that “Revenge is always sweet, but all the more so when it’s filled with jelly.” Elsewhere in her narrative, she devises a “morning orgasm cocktail” to make up for the downsides of life with two small children. Her account of the sheer pleasure taken in cooking for, and eating with, her loved ones bursts with straightforward, no-nonsense enthusiasm for food and life.