Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chef and Writer Joe Yonan Makes Cooking for One an Adventure

Joe Yonan is Food and Travel editor for The Washington Post where he writes the column "Cooking for One." His popular book, Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One, is a delightful sojourn into the world of cooking for one, not only because of the book's recipes, sound cooking advice, and encouraging words for those of us who cook primarily for ourselves, but also because of its engaging writing and thoughtful reflection.

I learned about Mr. Yonan's book while listening to one of my favorite radio shows, Splendid Table, from American Public Media. Host Lynn Rossetto Kasper interviewed the chef and journalist and put together a short but powerful five-minute bite that led me right to devouring his book. (The April 7 Splendid Table interview begins at the 27-minute mark.)

You can take a look
inside his book
at Amazon.

At the top on the list of why I wanted to get to know Mr. Yonan's book was something he said during the interview about cooking for himself: "I am the most important person to feed that I can think of." His words reminded me of the instructions we hear while sitting in an airplane getting ready for takeoff. We're told that if the oxygen masks drop down, help yourself before you help a child. Hey, if you deprive yourself of what you need in order to function when you are responsible for others, then others will get no help from you. It seems to me that this is as true of food as it is of air.

As Mr. Yonan states in the Splendid Table interview, we have a cultural understanding that food is best when it's shared with others; thus, by implication, eating alone is not as satisfying as eating with company. But, as the author says in the book's preface, and I agree, " me, cooking is the ultimate act of self-appreciation." The adventures in cooking for one start right there.

Photo source:  Joe Yonan


  1. It definitely sounds like I book that I have to have.

  2. Well worth the purchase! You'll get a good idea of its contents by using Amazon's "look inside this book" feature. :)

  3. Wanting to run out and grab this and savor it. Saw his book online and was really curious, so when I saw your review, I came right over. Great review, by the way. Off to listen to the interview.

  4. Frieda, Joe Yonan's reflections on cooking for one are similar to yours, even though you both come from different places. The message I hear from both of you is, take care of yourself first.