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Talking with My Mouth Full

Talking with My Mouth Full: Crab Cakes, Bundt Cakes, and Other Kitchen Stories

Most Americans don’t really eat dinners that look like they’ve been cooked by celebrity chefs. More often, home cooks use recipes handed down from great aunts, copied off of smudged recipe cards, or those they get from friends or the newspaper.

In Talking with My Mouth Full, Bonny Wolf, food commentator for NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday, writes about the country’s regional and family food traditions-birthday cakes and dinner parties, Jell-O and meatloaf, crabcakes and Bundt cakes. Each chapter has recipes long used by the author, family and friends.

These are stories, however, not just about what people eat, but why: for comfort, nurturance and companionship; to mark the seasons and to celebrate important events; to connect with family and friends and with ancestors they never knew; and, of course, for love.

In his foreword to the book, Scott Turow (a longtime friend), writes:

“Most writing about food somehow fails its potential unlimited audience. It’s haughty, or technical, or arcane. This book has none of those failings–it’s funny (like Bonny Wolf’s paean to Thanksgiving–“pure gluttony with no religious overtones”), practical (look, even recipes!), and fully aware of food’s relentless presence in our lives.

Indeed, I would call Talking with My Mouth Full sneaky-serious, in the sense that it made me reconsider the huge space food claims within our lives. There are meditations here on the clever inventions that have added to the joy of eating and cooking, such as the Bundt pan, or aprons, and on the social history embedded in distinctive foods.

But what is at the heart of this book are the intimate connections that food makes in families, the …somewhat imperturbable links that have been forged between generations of women who take vital pride in nurturing their husbands and children. Anyone, male or female, in front of a stove joins hands with ancestors going back to Eve.”


“… charming, lighthearted collection of essays. … Readers will find both her writing and the cooking refreshingly accessible.”
— Publishers Weekly

“This collection of essays about the foods that mark special occasions in the average American’s home is as reassuring as a big bowl of buttery mashed potatoes. Her belief in the power of food to bind families together and keep generations connected makes this collection of essays a delicious read.”
— Library Journal


Fried Walleye & Cherry Pie

Fried Walleye & Cherry Pie: Midwestern Writers on Food is a contemporary food writing anthology available November 1, 2013.

Fried Walleye & Cherry Pie: Midwestern Writers on Food (University of Nebraska Press, 2013), contributor

Fried Walleye & Cherry Pie: Midwestern Writers on Food offers a feast of culinary prose from Midwestern writers. In these newsletters you will find excerpts… from famous gourmets, accomplished cooks, or just plain ravenous writers who tackle the passions of cuisine. Read Bonny’s entry on the made-in Minnesota Bundt pan.


“Fried biscuits, Creole-style spaghetti, carrot shavings in the Jell-O, and perfect peach cobbler — this is the food that haunts midwesterners throughout their lives, and it’s inspired a collection of evocative essays by some of the region’s most appealing writers.”

— Laura Shapiro, author of Something from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America.

“Fried Walleye & Cherry Pie—what an eyeful! I so enjoyed reading these personal accounts of Midwestern foods and the stories they tell, which is food plus people, place and history.  As Peggy Wolff says at the start, food is not just food, but it’s the experience that counts—where you are and whom you are with. And that is just what these stories are about, the bigger picture of food that makes its memory poignant and worth telling.”

— Deborah Madison,  author of Vegetable Literacy