Summary: A young woman living in New York City, which she describes as “the eating-out capital of the world,” decides to swear off restaurant food, cook her meals at home, and write a blog about it. The blog, Not Eating Out in New York, continues to this day. It turns out that New York is a very exciting place to not eat out. Her not eating out experiences included dumpster diving and supper clubs, parknics and cooking competitions, urban foraging and feasts for friends.
The book includes a few recipes, some cartoon illustrations, and a number of interesting experiments, like comparing the weights of the waste products from a home-cooked meal versus a take-out meal. She conducted that process after making this observation on page 116:
I had a lot less garbage on my hands. It struck me then how much less trash I was producing since I’d stopped eating out. It wasn’t just at home, either. At work I used to have a smelly pile of trash from my takeout lunch and sometimes the breakfast wrappings in the bin under my desk by the end of the day. These days, I left the office with it virtually empty most of the time. I had stumbled upon a benefit of my original mission: By not eating out, my garbage footprint was now considerably smaller.
Underlying the messages of both types of books is the delightful fact that cooking means eating food that suits your own tastes and goals. Over a year into her experiment Cathy Erway wrote this observation, p. 152:
This was something that I couldn’t quite explain at the time, but I think my palate had changed a little. I didn’t crave restaurant food anymore the way I used to. Even though the temptation was always near, I’d prefer something home cooked to takeout if given the option.
Save money, improve health, and (once the over-salted, over-sugared tastes have left your system) enjoy food more — what’s not to love about cooking at home?
This book invites comparisons with Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell, both stunt memoirs related to cooking written by young women while living in New York. I preferred The Art of Eating In, for much the same reason that I preferred the movie Julie & Julia over the book: Cathy Erway, like Amy Adams’ portrayal of Julie Powell, makes her points in ways that involve more kindness and less profanity.
Appeal: A delightful book for home cooks, especially if they are in New York or occasionally dream about living there. I like that this book will appeal to women in their twenties and thirties, providing a model for eating in at an age when, for many of us, eating out is the norm. As someone turning 50 this year, I enjoyed this glimpse into the modern lives of younger adults.
Other Reviews: Judging from my comment, I apparently learned about this book when it was the Weekend Cooking post at Book Addiction — thanks!