Finding Yourself in the Kitchen: Kitchen Meditations and Inspired Recipes from a Mindful Cook

Dana Velden

Book cover

Tough for me to rate this book. On the one hand, I love Dana Velden–one of my favorite food writers–and I think almost everything she wrote in the book is great. On the other hand, I’m not sure how well it works as a book.

Probably like most other readers, I got to know Velden’s writing through her “Weekend Meditation” blog posts. These are nice, fairly short, thoughtful sketches of ideas related to food and cooking–mostly the emotional or personal aspects, how these things fit into the broader setting of a life. Velden is a former Buddhist contemplative and it shows through in her writing, in the best way.

FYK is basically a series of Weekend Meditations. I don’t think any of them are actually recycled; I’m pretty sure it’s all new material. There are some recipes scattered through the book, but they’re really not the main focus. Velden makes a game attempt at imposing some structure on the book by organizing it into three sections on different types of intimacy, and I think that works OK. But in the end, these are still the Zen-like fragments that the Weekend Meditation was, and they seem more suited to being delivered in an unstructured way. I read the book cover-to-cover, but after I finished, that felt like the wrong way to read it, and I wished that DV had just published the contents as regular Weekend Meditation posts instead of as a book!

Four stars for the content, but three stars for the book-as-book. Go check out her blog posts if you are interested.

My Goodreads rating: 3 stars