Cooking and Activism Join Together in Alice Waters’ New Memoir

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Our new Igloo Book Buzz selection is Alice Waters’ COMING TO MY SENSES: The Making of a Counterculture Cook, which Clarkson Potter published this week.  Alice retraces the events that led her to open the doors of Chez Panisse, arguably America’s most influential restaurant, in Berkeley, California in the early 1970s.  She chronicles the tumultuous times that emboldened her to find her own voice as a cook when the prevailing food culture was embracing convenience and uniformity.   

Alice Waters’ editor, Pam Krauss, said, “Even before I had the opportunity to work with Alice on her cookbooks, I was a huge admirer of her efforts as a food activist and her determination to reshape the conversation around food in this country. So I was excited both as an editor and as a fan when Alice finally agreed to tell her own story, and sketch the circuitous route that brought her to Chez Panisse. Given the parallels between the political climate now and when she first opened the restaurant in 1972, this insider’s account of the counterculture feels incredibly relevant.”

Moving from a repressive suburban upbringing to Berkeley in 1964 at the height of the Free Speech Movement and campus unrest, Alice was drawn into a bohemian circle of charismatic figures whose views on design, politics, film, and food would ultimately inform the unique culture on which Chez Panisse was founded. Fueled in equal parts by naiveté and a relentless pursuit of beauty and pure flavor, she turned her passion project into an iconic institution that redefined American cuisine for generations of chefs and food lovers.

Dotted with stories, recipes, photographs, and letters, COMING TO MY SENSES is at once deeply personal and modestly understated, a quietly revealing look at one woman’s evolution from a rebellious yet impressionable follower to a respected activist who effects social and political change on a global level through the common bond of food.

Posted: September 6, 2017