Hungry: What Eighty Ravenous Guys Taught Me about Life, Love, and the Power of Good Food by Darlene Barnes
Release date: 2013 / 272 pages
Synopsis(from Amazon): Newly arrived in Seattle, Darlene Barnes stumbles on a job ad for a cook at the Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity on the University of Washington, Seattle, campus, a prospect most serious food professionals would automatically reject. But Barnes envisions something other than kegs and corn dogs; she sees an opportunity to bring fresh, real food to an audience accustomed to “Asian Surprise” and other unidentifiable casseroles dropped by a catering service. And she sees a chance to reinvent herself, by turning a maligned job into meaningful work of her own creation: “I was the new girl and didn’t know or care about the rules.”
Review: When I mentioned to a few people that I was reading about a fraternity house chef, the common response was, “Why?” This just happened to be the reaction Darlene Barnes received from countless people when she stated she was cooking for a fraternity house! The short answer to the question I was asked was that I had heard positive reviews and was just too curious about why — figuring a sense of humor must have been involved somewhere. The long answer to the question Darlene was asked resulted in an always funny, often poignant, and surprisingly thoughtful memoir that is difficult to set aside.
The true strength of Hungry is Darlene’s reflections on her life outside the frat house, what lead her to accept the job, and why she kept returning. The “antics” within the house are much to be expected and not nearly as compelling as the author’s journey of self-acceptance and self-fulfillment. Early on, Darlene decides to go against the common frat cook practice of “easy and cheap” and cook “from scratch” — introducing a type of cooking rarely experienced in a frat house. Examples of recipes here. This leads to amusing wrangling with her food service providers and a number of expected challenges, given her audience, but also endears her to the fraternity and helps form lasting relationships as unexpected as they are fulfilling.
Darlene is brash, sassy, and difficult to please, but her “boys” seems to relish the challenge and by the end, few readers would need to ask why Darlene returned year-after-year. I recommend this as a light, but thoughtful, memoir well-suited to foodies and memoir-lovers alike. Interested in winning a copy? Drop me a comment below!
Check out the other stops on the tour:
Monday, August 5th: Life, Love & Books
Tuesday, August 6th: Lit and Life
Wednesday, August 7th: ::steph chows::
Thursday, August 8th: Peppermint Ph.D.
Monday, August 12th: A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
Thursday, August 15th: Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, August 19th: Book Club Classics!
Wednesday, August 21st: Guiltless Reading
Thursday, August 22nd: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, August 26th: Bookchickdi
Wednesday, August 28th: The Well Read Redhead
Tuesday, September 3rd: Kahakai Kitchen
Thursday, September 5th: BookNAround
Monday, September 9th: girlichef
Saturday, September 14th: Joyfully Retired