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Pen Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood, with Recipes

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From the writers of acclaimed blog Pen & Palate, a humorous coming-of-age (and mastering-the-art-of-home-cooking) memoir of friendship, told through stories, recipes, and beautiful illustrations. Getting through life in your twenties isn't easy--especially if you're broke, awkward, and prone to starting small grease fires in your studio apartment. For best friends Lucy Mad From the writers of acclaimed blog Pen & Palate, a humorous coming-of-age (and mastering-the-art-of-home-cooking) memoir of friendship, told through stories, recipes, and beautiful illustrations. Getting through life in your twenties isn't easy--especially if you're broke, awkward, and prone to starting small grease fires in your studio apartment. For best friends Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen, cooking was an escape from the daily humiliation that is being a twenty-something woman in a big city. Pen & Palate traces the course of Lucy and Tram's devoted friendship through miserable jobs and tiny apartments, first loves and ill-advised flings, successes and setbacks--always with a shared love of food at the center of the narrative. A modern take on Laurie Colwin's classic Home Cooking, this coming-of-age memoir for the Girls set weaves together comical (mis)adventures and recipes meant to be shared with a best friend and a bottle of wine.


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From the writers of acclaimed blog Pen & Palate, a humorous coming-of-age (and mastering-the-art-of-home-cooking) memoir of friendship, told through stories, recipes, and beautiful illustrations. Getting through life in your twenties isn't easy--especially if you're broke, awkward, and prone to starting small grease fires in your studio apartment. For best friends Lucy Mad From the writers of acclaimed blog Pen & Palate, a humorous coming-of-age (and mastering-the-art-of-home-cooking) memoir of friendship, told through stories, recipes, and beautiful illustrations. Getting through life in your twenties isn't easy--especially if you're broke, awkward, and prone to starting small grease fires in your studio apartment. For best friends Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen, cooking was an escape from the daily humiliation that is being a twenty-something woman in a big city. Pen & Palate traces the course of Lucy and Tram's devoted friendship through miserable jobs and tiny apartments, first loves and ill-advised flings, successes and setbacks--always with a shared love of food at the center of the narrative. A modern take on Laurie Colwin's classic Home Cooking, this coming-of-age memoir for the Girls set weaves together comical (mis)adventures and recipes meant to be shared with a best friend and a bottle of wine.

30 review for Pen Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood, with Recipes

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kara

    The recipes were an interesting hook, but I was never really drawn into the various vignettes of fresh adulthood. It might be I'm just too old for the whole OMG-being-in-your-20's-is-sooo-hard genre, but it just didn't do much for me. The recipes were an interesting hook, but I was never really drawn into the various vignettes of fresh adulthood. It might be I'm just too old for the whole OMG-being-in-your-20's-is-sooo-hard genre, but it just didn't do much for me.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    An enjoyable story about two friends growing up, discovering interests, working toward goals, and falling in love--with some delicious family recipes to sweeten the story. I made the chocolate chip cookies while reading through and recommend them even more than the book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    MsNxnxttx

    Pen & Palate is not like any book I've ever read. The format itself is unique in that the narrative not only details the challenging lives of 2 best friends navigating their 20s, but it also includes a variety of recipes that have personal meaning for each of them. Their ongoing love of food is a common interest that initially keeps them bonded, but life events make it challenging to keep their friendship afloat. While I enjoyed the unique format of the narrative, I did start to get bored mid-bo Pen & Palate is not like any book I've ever read. The format itself is unique in that the narrative not only details the challenging lives of 2 best friends navigating their 20s, but it also includes a variety of recipes that have personal meaning for each of them. Their ongoing love of food is a common interest that initially keeps them bonded, but life events make it challenging to keep their friendship afloat. While I enjoyed the unique format of the narrative, I did start to get bored mid-book as the chapters seemed redundant. However, there are definitely some useful perspectives and life lessons that I personally connected with. I also plan to try a few of the recipes!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Pen and Palate has some great thoughts on what food means and how it factors into both everyday life and special occasions, as well as some fantastic recipes. Unfortunately, the narrative sections of the book are trying to sum up some kind of lesson on adulthood, but not really getting there. The dueling narratives meant than neither writer is able to really develop their themes and relationships. An interesting but flawed concept. **I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss. All opinion Pen and Palate has some great thoughts on what food means and how it factors into both everyday life and special occasions, as well as some fantastic recipes. Unfortunately, the narrative sections of the book are trying to sum up some kind of lesson on adulthood, but not really getting there. The dueling narratives meant than neither writer is able to really develop their themes and relationships. An interesting but flawed concept. **I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss. All opinions are my own.**

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bookforum Magazine

    "It's cookbook as bildungsroman. The recipes are great, but greater still is the pair's unvarnished take on the comedic hideousness of being young and totally confused about everything from love to work to how much the steam heat in your crappy Manhattan apartment costs (pro tip from Madison: It's free.)" –Melanie Rehak on Tram Nguyen and Lucy Madison's Pen & Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood, with Recipes in the Summer 2016 issue of Bookforum To read the rest of this review, go to Bookforum "It's cookbook as bildungsroman. The recipes are great, but greater still is the pair's unvarnished take on the comedic hideousness of being young and totally confused about everything from love to work to how much the steam heat in your crappy Manhattan apartment costs (pro tip from Madison: It's free.)" –Melanie Rehak on Tram Nguyen and Lucy Madison's Pen & Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood, with Recipes in the Summer 2016 issue of Bookforum To read the rest of this review, go to Bookforum: http://bookforum.com/inprint/

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    I enjoyed reading this memoir about two women, friends since high school, and about them entering adulthood, moving to two different states and continuing their friendship through conversations by phone, their mutual love of trying recipes and figuring out what they want in life. I loved the drawings and the recipes throughout the book. This book is great for people that like collecting cookbooks and reading about people's experiences and adventures in cooking. I enjoyed reading this memoir about two women, friends since high school, and about them entering adulthood, moving to two different states and continuing their friendship through conversations by phone, their mutual love of trying recipes and figuring out what they want in life. I loved the drawings and the recipes throughout the book. This book is great for people that like collecting cookbooks and reading about people's experiences and adventures in cooking.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Emrie

    I was a little disappointed that the recipes in the book were so much more advanced than I had assumed. I was kind of hoping for two girls struggling to learn how to feed themselves with no experience. However! Their struggles to live in a clean, decent apartment, their search for a career and a passion, even some of their zanier stories were totally relatable. It was a nice read :)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Aimee

    I am a huge sucker for cook books and I would say this is just an evolution-used cook book with a good story. It's about amazing friendship that stands the test of time and how food is such apart of our lives whether we know it or not. I borrowed this from the library so I must now go buy a copy. And it is going on my cookbook shelf. I cannot wait to make some of these delicious recipes. I am a huge sucker for cook books and I would say this is just an evolution-used cook book with a good story. It's about amazing friendship that stands the test of time and how food is such apart of our lives whether we know it or not. I borrowed this from the library so I must now go buy a copy. And it is going on my cookbook shelf. I cannot wait to make some of these delicious recipes.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Georgia

    Four stars for how interesting these two women are Three stars for the randomness of the structure- the recipes at the end of chapters didn't always seem logical or relevant, and the narrative jumps weren't always smooth. Enjoyable overall though. Four stars for how interesting these two women are Three stars for the randomness of the structure- the recipes at the end of chapters didn't always seem logical or relevant, and the narrative jumps weren't always smooth. Enjoyable overall though.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lynne

    Full review here: http://wp.me/p36jwx-YZ Full review here: http://wp.me/p36jwx-YZ

  11. 4 out of 5

    Trenchologist

    Charming; not too strenuous but just enough impact to keep you engaged. Definitely reads like it was lifted from a blog--which it was--and that's not a knock. This isn't a learning-life-through-cooking. It's more staying-grounded-by-food (and cooking). Food and cooking connect so many things--generations, friends, families, cultures--in so many ways. This microcosm of that was affecting and confident. The food tie-in wasn't always a direct line but that doesn't make it weaker. Sometimes the best s Charming; not too strenuous but just enough impact to keep you engaged. Definitely reads like it was lifted from a blog--which it was--and that's not a knock. This isn't a learning-life-through-cooking. It's more staying-grounded-by-food (and cooking). Food and cooking connect so many things--generations, friends, families, cultures--in so many ways. This microcosm of that was affecting and confident. The food tie-in wasn't always a direct line but that doesn't make it weaker. Sometimes the best stories and best recipes for a dinner party are more complementary than nested. I lived in NYC for years, and although I didn't go about it like Madison, I still get pangs of all manner when the city is well described. I also didn't need my 20s to work my shit out, but that doesn't mean I couldn't relate to a lot of what they through, after a piece. Has a some warm and cozy aura (not at all black). The sense of settling down to an engaging meal with friends you haven't seen in a good while but the old rhythm picks up and it makes for a lively, comforting, touching evening. Not too introspective, not too shallow. I think what I might have enjoyed most were Nguyen's illustrations. --> there's nothing about these women's stories that demands a book. But take a savvy (good) blog, a good (savvy) hook, plus connections, and that can certainly lead to one. I mean this neutrally, and it doesn't take away from the book or authors at all, just something I'm always cognizant of and interested in, behind the scenes and process-wise to how this stuff comes about.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tenley

    In the arbitrary world of book reviews, some books get 5 stars because they're important, some get 3 because the reader didn't like the genre, and some get 5 because the prose sings. This book gets five stars because it was exactly what I needed to read. After a summer of reading my way through a couple of science-themed books, taking a quick dive into the friendship of Lucy and Tram was perfect. Maybe because they're just a few years removed from me, so their experiences seem familiar and still In the arbitrary world of book reviews, some books get 5 stars because they're important, some get 3 because the reader didn't like the genre, and some get 5 because the prose sings. This book gets five stars because it was exactly what I needed to read. After a summer of reading my way through a couple of science-themed books, taking a quick dive into the friendship of Lucy and Tram was perfect. Maybe because they're just a few years removed from me, so their experiences seem familiar and still important to my 21 years. Maybe because the stories they tell are personal and narrative and funny. Maybe because the food that they create is ambitious and as far from the depressing cook-in-college articles I've found online ("How to use a knife!" "Ten things to add to ramen!") Maybe because of the beautiful I-wish-I-had-thought-of-that color illustrations. (I mean, how many books do adults get with COLOR illustrations? Not enough. Not nearly enough.) It's a quick read, with thoughts on growing up and the way food links us to each other and to our past, and now I'm inspired to make ambitious food in my tiny dorm room kitchen.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Mirsch

    I bought this gem in a dollar store—which is sad for the authors, but fantastic for me. The female authors’ snappy, self-deprecating wit is fresh feeling and relatable. You also can’t beat a book that easily passes the Bechdel test, with two adventuresome, independent female friends helming dual Bildungsromans (?). Buy this book for the recipes even more than what I’ve already mentioned, though. I’ve made about half of them, and not one of them has been a disappointment. The cha ca thang long, t I bought this gem in a dollar store—which is sad for the authors, but fantastic for me. The female authors’ snappy, self-deprecating wit is fresh feeling and relatable. You also can’t beat a book that easily passes the Bechdel test, with two adventuresome, independent female friends helming dual Bildungsromans (?). Buy this book for the recipes even more than what I’ve already mentioned, though. I’ve made about half of them, and not one of them has been a disappointment. The cha ca thang long, though a bit complex, is to. Die. For. I’ve made it three times already and could probably eat it happily two or three times a week. A chef’s kiss of a book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    amyleigh

    I've come to realize that one of my dreams is that I will one day discover myself by following in the footsteps of a narrative along the lines of Julie and Julia, cooking my way to a brighter self. Food will mirror my struggles and sorrows; I will be saved by learning to bake the perfect souffle. This book was another one of those stories that my sappy drip of a heart finds so endearing. And now to spend the new year trying to make this dream happen. I've come to realize that one of my dreams is that I will one day discover myself by following in the footsteps of a narrative along the lines of Julie and Julia, cooking my way to a brighter self. Food will mirror my struggles and sorrows; I will be saved by learning to bake the perfect souffle. This book was another one of those stories that my sappy drip of a heart finds so endearing. And now to spend the new year trying to make this dream happen.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mysteryfan

    This is a very cute memoir about two best friends in their twenties struggling to establish careers and personal lives. They alternate chapters in writing about their lives. Each chapter ends with a couple of recipes. There are beautiful food illustrations by one of the authors. It's a fun frivolous read. This is a very cute memoir about two best friends in their twenties struggling to establish careers and personal lives. They alternate chapters in writing about their lives. Each chapter ends with a couple of recipes. There are beautiful food illustrations by one of the authors. It's a fun frivolous read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Grace

    I love love love a cook book that tells a good story! Beautifully illustrated, with explanations and preambles to the recipes, this is a lovely story about friendship, growing up, and recipes that mean something.

  17. 4 out of 5

    texbsquared

    Gorgeous, gorgeous illustrations!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sharie

    Illustrations, recipes, interesting stories of making it on your own.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Gerberding

    Two friends who live in different cities help each other navigate their 20's with love, advice, and recipes. Two friends who live in different cities help each other navigate their 20's with love, advice, and recipes.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Johnny

    Really loved this book! Fun read plus some really good recipes to try out

  21. 4 out of 5

    Aimee

    Review originally appeared @ Reading Lark: http://readinglark.blogspot.com/2016/... Two young women, best friends since high school, weave in and out of each other’s lives as they go to college, move out on their own in different cities, and learn to navigate adulthood. Oh, and there’s food; lots of food and lots of stories about food. It doesn’t necessarily sound like the recipe for an amazing book, and yet as with all dishes it becomes much more than the sum of its parts. Pen and Palate is told Review originally appeared @ Reading Lark: http://readinglark.blogspot.com/2016/... Two young women, best friends since high school, weave in and out of each other’s lives as they go to college, move out on their own in different cities, and learn to navigate adulthood. Oh, and there’s food; lots of food and lots of stories about food. It doesn’t necessarily sound like the recipe for an amazing book, and yet as with all dishes it becomes much more than the sum of its parts. Pen and Palate is told in alternating chapters of Lucy and Tram’s points of view. Readers can see the heart of the friendship pulsing as they describe meeting and getting to know each other, what they thought of one another, and how each saw the other as the amazing one. It was sweetly sad, and I think very honest, how they both felt a little inadequate in the face of each other’s talents. I found myself a envious of how long their close friendship has lasted, and wishing that everyone could have a relationship as nurturing as theirs. For each chapter of the book, the authors have chosen a couple of recipes that either feature prominently in that part of their lives or are somehow emblematic of it. The way they worked food into the narrative made me really excited about trying the recipes – much more so than a regular cookbook. It was like getting a cookbook, but only with the recipes that you would actually want to try. I did the grocery shopping yesterday, so I’ve yet to make anything, but Flat Iron Steaks with Chimichurri Sauce and Caramel and Coconut Braised Pork are on the menu at my house this week! A memoir about life as a twenty-something could fall into the trap of being overly angsty, whiny, or even too earnest. What kept Pen and Palate from becoming self-indulgent is the authors’ wisdom and senses of humor. I read most of the book in the airport or on a plane while traveling over the weekend. I laughed out loud enough, I’m sure my fellow travelers thought I had gone round the bend. Even if you never make any of the food in the book, everyone will appreciate Lucy and Tram’s excellent storytelling and comedic timing. I absolutely loved reading about Lucy and Tram’s friendship and how supportive these two women have been of each other over the years. It made me want to reconnect with my high school best friend. Love you, Jennifer!!!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Michelle

    I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. I finally got around to reading this, I've had it for months. I won this is May and just read it the past 2 days. I knew this book was about 2 friends in their 20s and about food and as a foodie and someone who is about to go into my 20s, this book screamed READ ME so I did. This is a no lie book. They tell your exactly the kind of good & bad stuff you are going to be dealing with in your 20s from dealing with boys, finding yourself, your career, and keep I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. I finally got around to reading this, I've had it for months. I won this is May and just read it the past 2 days. I knew this book was about 2 friends in their 20s and about food and as a foodie and someone who is about to go into my 20s, this book screamed READ ME so I did. This is a no lie book. They tell your exactly the kind of good & bad stuff you are going to be dealing with in your 20s from dealing with boys, finding yourself, your career, and keeping friendships alive. I have yet to try any of the recipes but they sound delicious and I was super excited to see some of the old family recipes from these girls' lives be included. It makes you more connected to the authors. Very good very sweet read. I recommend to foodies and light hearted readers.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    I love food and I love coming-of-age stories and this book does a beautiful job of combining both. Lucy and Tram have been best friends since middle school and do an excellent job of recounting the ups and downs of life in your twenties. Plus, the illustrations are all by Tram and are awesome! I would definitely recommend this to any/all foodies. It's like a cookbook with detailed stories behind each recipe. If you're a fan of books by Ruth Reichl or Molly Weizenberg, pick this up. I love food and I love coming-of-age stories and this book does a beautiful job of combining both. Lucy and Tram have been best friends since middle school and do an excellent job of recounting the ups and downs of life in your twenties. Plus, the illustrations are all by Tram and are awesome! I would definitely recommend this to any/all foodies. It's like a cookbook with detailed stories behind each recipe. If you're a fan of books by Ruth Reichl or Molly Weizenberg, pick this up.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    It's like reading a blog. The writing is easy, and things are wrapped up quickly. The recipes are okay, but nothing was appealing enough to make. It's like reading a blog. The writing is easy, and things are wrapped up quickly. The recipes are okay, but nothing was appealing enough to make.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shalaka

    Fun read and the recipes look delicious!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Islay

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

  28. 5 out of 5

    Anne Logan

  29. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kendall

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