Crazy in the Kitchen by Louise DeSalvo

Crazy in the Kitchen

With this stunning memoir of growing up in Italian-American New Jersey, Louise DeSalvo proves that your family's past is baked right into the bread you eat.In Louise DeSalvo's family, in 1950s New Jersey, the kitchen becomes the site for fierce generational battle. As Louise's step-grandmother stubbornly recreates the domestic habits of her Southern Italian peasant upbringing, she clashes painfully with Louise's convenience-food-loving mother, wh...

Details Crazy in the Kitchen

TitleCrazy in the Kitchen
Release DateJan 17th, 2004
PublisherBloomsbury USA
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Food and Drink, Food, Nonfiction, Biography Memoir, Foodie

Reviews Crazy in the Kitchen

  • Ruth
    All my aunts and uncles (6 of them, 9 if you count the steps) spoke with heavy accents, but growing up I never questioned why I never heard them speak either Sicilian or Italian, nor did anyone ever talk about their lives in Sicily or when they first came to Brooklyn. This book is not the story of my family, except in certain similarities of situation, yet in many ways it has helped me to understand the silence I grew up with. The silence I didnâ...
  • Nancy
    Well, I don't think Ms. DeSalvo's life was quite as bad as she thought it was. There were rumblings of a latent drama queen under the different segments in the book. So, her mother was a clean freak who didn't like to cook. And her grandmother was an eccentric Italian grandmother who did like to cook. Her mother had issues having her strong-willed, critical STEP-mother living with her. I suspect I would have also - Grandma didn't seem to have muc...
  • Kristen
    Every time we take our fall trip to the Hudson Valley, we stop by the Culinary Institute of America. This trip we visited the gift shop and I felt inspired to check out this book from the sale rack. It's about a woman who grew up in the 50s and 60s in suburban NJ with a mother who loved anything canned or processed and a grandmother from Italy who made "peasant food" and disdained the evils of Wonder bread and all the other food products of the t...
  • Mary Lou
    Having grown up in a large Italian family, I found this book easy to relate to. It was also very funny even though I realized the protagonist with her frequent bouts of anger at her father mananged to use that anger to become an excellent cook. She also went on to college, worked in a university, became a novelist, married and had a family. When so much anger envelopes a person at such a young age it is difficult to understand or even make an eff...
  • Beth
    As I usually do when I read a book that affects me so much I searched for this author to write and tell her how much I enjoyed her book. (My family thinks I am crazy when I do this). I actually gasped out loud when I found that she had passed away on October 31, 2018. I kick myself for having this book on my shelf for so long and missing the opportunity to tell her how much I enjoyed her writing. One of many sentences that stood out to me was, "....
  • Suellyn
    This was not the story I expected because it didn’t reflect the Italian American family I knew or thought I knew. On the other hand, her historical perspective and personal insights were terrific and taught me a lot about my heritage. It also made me interested in studying more about why my great-grandparents left Italy for the U.S. Very glad I read it.
  • Marlene
    This was an interesting book about an Italian immigrant family in America, written by Louise DeSalvo about her grandparents and her parents and the differences of the old world and new world. She writes a lot about the importance of food in her family. Many of the things Louise did not understand until she grew up and visited the homelands of her parents and grandparents. For example, she thought Italians were Italians and therefore she and her h...
  • Marilyn
    The only book by Louise DeSalvo I'd read (and still own) is one on writing as a healing process. It's wonderful, and I've recommended it to, and used it in, writing workshops I've facilitated over the years. So I saw this book and wanted to check out DeSalvo's own memoir writing. It became obvious, reading this book, how writing aided in her own personal healing processes. Lotsa clashes at home between an Italian immigrant grandmother who cooks t...
  • Kathy
    I quit reading this one about forty pages into it. The author grew up in an Italian-American family in the US in the fifties with her Italian grandmother living with them. I sort of expected a heartwarming story that would definitely have it's bittersweet moments but this one is pretty dark. Mom hides all the kitchen knives every night because she fears that any or all of the family members might wake up at night and stab everyone to death. Littl...
  • Cathy Aquila
    3 1/2 stars. Not exactly what I was expecting. This memoir has more pain than pasta. DeSalvo grew up in a home without much love and there wasn't any affection displayed and the kitchen was often their battleground. Although there is no resemblance to my Italian American upbringing, I enjoyed some of the descriptions and dialogue that reminded me of my own Sicilian grandparents.
  • Penny Cipolone
    Not an easy read because it is so emotionally draining. This is a must for anyone who has had mother problems influence her life. The author shows how her search for her family's past helped to enlighten the way she viewed her mother and father. Sometimes the reader has to laugh, but many more times the result is tears - tears for the past, the present, the future, and what might have been.
  • Gigi
    While I found this to be somewhat repetitive with DeSalvo's first book _Vertigo: A Memoir_ and other, shorter pieces of hers that I've read in journals and anthologies, midway through I began to feel really caught up in this family history. Especially gratifying were DeSalvo's descriptions of her food obsessions and quirks. I'm going to try to get my mother to read it now.
  • Julene
    I love this book. She tells the story of her immigrant family using food as the constant thread. It is a rich book that made me cry. I studied with Louise in NYC years ago (1980s) and it brought her alive as ever to read her memoir, she was right there with me as I read.
  • Jessica Haider
    DeSalvo's gritty memoir is full of lots of unhappy memories of growing up as a 2nd generation American in an Italian American home in New Jersey. This is not a happy go-lucky foodie memoir. DeSalvo digs up a lot of pain in her family history.
  • Vivian
    I really wanted to like this book but I got bored frequently as the author seemed to revisit feelings/experiences already said. It ended up being just another tired report of a girl growing up in a dysfunctional family.
  • Denise
    Not exactly what I was expecting. I did not find it happy or uplifting as far as family dynamics.
  • Sally Anne
    Very highly recommended. A bit uneven in terms of focus, but an excellent excellent writer. Heartfelt and intense.