Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Cooking

Chocolate tart consolation for 'Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.'

BOOK: "Women crave relationships the way men crave orgasm," a good friend explains to Nate, who is brooding about the failure of his most recent affair. "Their whole being bends to its imperative. Men, in contrast, want relationships the way women want orgasm: sometimes, under the right circumstances." This wry observation puts Nate in a better mood, since it shifts responsibility from his own actions and places it on the nature of men and women. He returns to his disorderly apartment in Brooklyn rejuvenated, and glad to be alone in it again. He did not need to be in a relationship at the moment, he decides, although he soon finds himself in another.

Nate Piven, the title character of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., is a 30-something graduate of Harvard trying to establish himself as a writer. He has a respectable gig writing freelance book reviews for a website, and has finished a novel about a young man, much like himself, growing up with Romanian immigrant parents, much like his own. He has discovered that his stock on the sexual marketplace has increased handsomely in recent years, enabling him to flit from one beautiful young woman to another. The routine is always the same: infatuation followed by dissatisfaction, which may involve noticing the loose flesh on his beloved's upper arm, or fielding her frequent question, "What's wrong?" When he falls for Hannah, a bright, ambitious writer much like himself, Nate thinks he has found a soul mate, but the reader easily recognizes what's happening, even if Nate does not.

WHY READ? The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. offers what Sasha Weiss, literary editor for the New Yorker, succinctly describes as "a mercilessly clear view into a man's mind as he grows tired of a worthy woman." The author, a young woman named Adelle Waldman, proves to be a perceptive guide to Nate's mind. She puts his "clamorous conscience" on full display, allowing his desire for fairness and gallantry to deflect easy criticism of his behavior. For example, when Nate encounters an ex who is still fuming over the way he treated her after she had an abortion, he dismisses her with a breezy, "Look, Juliet, it was great to see you. And you do look great. But I've really got to go." Sounds bad, but Waldman eventually provides the backstory, in which the unwanted pregnancy resulted from a broken condom, and Nate sincerely tried to support Juliet through the ordeal, before disappearing from her life and moving on. After all, they just weren't right for each other, Nate tells himself, reasonably. Perhaps he was a jerk for appearing more enthusiastic about her at first than he eventually felt, but women should listen when he tells them he isn't looking for anything serious. As Chris Rock famously put it, "A man is basically as faithful as his options," and Nate has options, lots of them, and he's eager to exercise them.

MAKE IT: As Brooklyn solidifies its reputation as hipster heaven, good restaurants keep appearing, offering sumptuous delights that frequently find their way into cookbooks illustrated with provocative photos. One of those cookbooks, This Is a Cookbook, features recipes by young brothers Max Sussman (chef de cuisine at Roberta's in Brooklyn) and Eli Sussman (a line cook at Miles End Delicatessen a few miles away). They offer a recipe for flourless chocolate espresso tart that is easy, and accompanied by a photo that appropriately shows the dessert already mostly devoured.

Tom Valeo, special to the Times

Read & Feed is a monthly column in Taste that matches popular book club selections with food to serve at meetings. If you have suggestions or would like to share what your book club is cooking up, send an email to [email protected] Put BOOK FOOD in the subject line.

Comments
Five trendy gift ideas for the cook in your life

Five trendy gift ideas for the cook in your life

Giving the gift of cooking isnít really something you can mess up. Whether gifting a gadget or paying for a class, you can encourage a budding culinary enthusiast or give a seasoned veteran a new toy to play with. Here are five ideas for holiday gi...
Published: 12/13/17
Four ideas for edible gifts you can find throughout Tampa Bay

Four ideas for edible gifts you can find throughout Tampa Bay

Carlynn Crosby, Times correspondent Florida Pure Sea Salt Harvested from Tampa Bay’s waters, these handcrafted salts come in flavors like maple bacon, Sriracha, lemongrass, habanero or black truffle. They retail for $15 a jar online, at flor...
Published: 12/13/17
Six kitchen gadgets that are completely useless

Six kitchen gadgets that are completely useless

If youíre buying me a gift this year, donít get me an Instant Pot. Iím serious. I donít subscribe to the "you can never be too thin or too rich" school of thought, but the "you can never have too much kitchen cabinet space" is dead right in my book. ...
Published: 12/13/17
From the food editor: How to make perfect, hot Crispy Roasted Potatoes

From the food editor: How to make perfect, hot Crispy Roasted Potatoes

Sometimes, you just want a hot, crispy potato.I didnít get home from work the other night craving a full dinner; I arrived at my house with cartoon visions of potatoes in my head, and knew I had to make it happen.I wasnít looking for a fast food fren...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Party like itís Christmas in Narnia with these recipes perfect for tea time

Party like itís Christmas in Narnia with these recipes perfect for tea time

As a kid, I always looked for doors into other worlds. I blame Narnia. In C.S. Lewisí classic novel The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, four British children step through a magic wardrobe into Narnia, a world filled with talking animals and plenty ...
Published: 12/12/17
Cooking challenge: Making homemade edible Christmas gifts

Cooking challenge: Making homemade edible Christmas gifts

Should I infuse this vodka with bacon?Thatís not a question I expected to ask myself on a Sunday morning, but here we are. This Christmas, Iím giving homemade gifts: infused liquor and chocolate fudge. But I didnít realize it would be so hard to find...
Published: 12/12/17
Lightened Shepherdís Pie comforting, quick

Lightened Shepherdís Pie comforting, quick

When the weather gets cooler, we want to tuck into comfort food in our home. Doing a recipe makeover on a tasty-but-less-than-healthy dish is one of my favorite challenges. Today, Iím taking on a wintertime classic with my Lightened Shepherdís Pie. T...
Published: 12/08/17
Green Salad With Pumpkin Vinaigrette celebrates holiday season

Green Salad With Pumpkin Vinaigrette celebrates holiday season

By MELISSA DíARABIANSummer may officially be the season of green salads, but wintertime versions have advantages that make them worth exploring. The cooler weather seasonable greens are hearty and darker green, which makes them nutrient-rich. And, th...
Published: 12/08/17
My holiday tradition: Making a whole bunch of beef Wellington

My holiday tradition: Making a whole bunch of beef Wellington

For the past 20 years, my family has looked forward to a boat parade party hosted by some of our dearest friends. The hostess provides cocktails, appetizers, dinner, desserts and a trombone choir to perform from a balcony overlooking her pool. My fav...
Published: 12/06/17
Tampa Bay Times readers share their treasured holiday food traditions

Tampa Bay Times readers share their treasured holiday food traditions

When we opened this yearís call for reader submissions to any treasured holiday food tradition, I had no idea what to expect. That was kind of the point. I wanted to see what such a wide gamut would inspire. And you delivered. The stories that reader...
Published: 12/06/17