Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Review: Eat a Peach

Eat a Peach Eat a Peach by David Chang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I devoured this memoir by Chef David Chang. I have enough of a background in the culinary world to know how hard it is, how few people succeed, how easy it is to completely burn out. It can be such hard work when you're only responsible for yourself; taking on the risks of managing and opening a restaurant are unfathomable to me.

Every once in a while you find someone who despite those same struggles pulls off something amazing and changes the landscape forever, and that is this story. Even if you aren't into food but you have an interest in the creative process, in how to fail and use it as fuel, this will be inspiring on that level too. The irony is that he is not trying to be inspiring, but just to talk about what happened and how. He also discusses struggles with his own mental illness and how this line of work almost manifested as its own addiction (that's my diagnosis/connection and may not be what he really said.)

I know the pandemic has gutted the restaurant industry and his brand didn't escape it either. I cried the night he posted about closing one of his restaurants. In some ways the memoir captures the hopeful period right before all this happened, and maybe that is one reason I kept finding reasons to listen to it. I've followed so many of his endeavors over the years from Lucky Peach to the tv shows; I even remember watching a televised report on the foraging competition (Eat it Raw) in 2010. I've never been to his restaurants because I've never been to NYC but after listening to this audiobook I feel like we've been on that journey together. Such a creative thinker, such a world builder, I finish this book astounded even more than I already was.

As for the title, I know most will assume it comes from The Love song of J. Alfred Prufrock ("I grow old ... I grow old ...I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled...Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?") but I like to think it's a more obscure reference to Nicolas Cage in Face Off ("I could eat a peach for hours..")

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