Confession: I love a bit of food porn. Truly. No, I'm not talking 57 Shades of Heinz bedroom games, but rather food can be really sexy.
There's ritual in the preparation, (the foreplay) and the consumption (consummation). It's just so god damn sensual! The hunger: the thought of it, the sight, the smell, the taste, the feel of it on the tongue, the roll around the mouth, the... mastication. (Yes, that's a word.) And I love a good book that involves, nay celebrates the love of food: from Lily Prior's La Cucina and her romps with Ragu; Adriana Trigiani's Big Stone Gap Series, in which I learned a sandwich could be so much more; Joanne Harris's Chocolat, I will forever suck and savour my quality truffles, because shit, a lot of work goes into those things; Promises to Keep, by Jane Green--it even has recipes, and they are good (!) and anything by Jennifer Weiner, because her heroines hunger for something more in life. Amen and pass the salt!
|Gem. She's lovely and hi-LA-rious!|
So, when I learned my friend and fabulous Britty in the Big City, Gemma Burgess, had tippy-tappy typed a new adult novel, about a headstrong twenty-something living in my old hood, fucking and food trucking, I knew I HAD to read it!
Now, now, Boys! When I say 'fucking' don't get the wrong idea, this is not some erotic blow-by-blow (pardon), but it's... real. The gaggle of Brooklyn Girls living in a house on Union St are living life and making mistakes, a lot of mistakes. This punchy opener sets the tone beautifully:
"Never screw your roommate's brother. A simple rule, but a good one. And I broke it last night. Twice. Oopsh."
Ta dah! And the heroine, Pia, and I bonded immediately! (Not that I have ever done that, Mum. Dad. But simply, I love a good, ol' flawed heroine with a lust for life.) Pia can party her socks off! Well, her bra off anyway, and that's unfortunately the photo that ends up on Facebook and gets her fired from her PR job. "Oopsh!" indeed. Pia is cut-off by her parents and forced to survive (pay rent and afford tequila) on her wits and ingenuity! She buys a food truck using--perhaps not the best choice--ten grand from a loan shark. Thus her food truck business, Skinny Wheels, and financial debt, begins!
The whole, "getting cut of from her parents" thing you might find reminiscent of Lena Dunham's Girls. Funnily enough, Gemma Burgess had written this first novel of the series before the award-winning HBO show aired. I hope this novel is as successful for Burgess as the show is for Dunham, because it has all the ingredients to be so.
So let's cut to the meat and potatoes, shall we? Why did I enjoy this book? Pia Keller is a truly likable protagonist with a Masters in Self Destruction: she is clearly an Arseaholic (addicted to Arseholes); and, she suffers from anxiety and rage. (This is not familiar at all. No Siree! Not me!) Pia is riddled with flaws, but is so likable. She'd do anything, ANYTHING, to help her girlfriends; she is passionate about bringing the public fresh, organic food; she drives a pink truck; she's often treated as an alien due to her Swiss/Indian parentage; oh, and she is pretty and fashionable. I like her!
Pia is a bona fide foodie! I'm going to put this out there: a girl's gotta eat! Writers who don't let their characters eat are, quite frankly, cruel. Is your character an anorexic? A camel? EnduroMan? Jesus in the desert? No? Then fucking feed her/him! Pia et les femmes eat. They eat a lot, and in Brooklyn, they are certainly in a good neighbourhood for that. Whether drunken feasting on eggplant rollatini, baked ziti, and spinach and ricotta pizza at Bartolo's; or simply scarfing down Coco's homemade cookies; or creating the nutritious and delicious salads of Skinny Wheels; food is the uniting factor that brings these girls together, that comforts, that sobers, that gives Pia a place to help others.
120 miles north of New York City, my now home town of Scranton is ga-ga-hoopla-Kelly-and-not-Regis-mental about food truckery! It's fresh, it's new, it's mobile! What the Fork is there not to like? I've been reading the ravings about the grain-fed beef sliders with bacon jam, the pork tacos with sriracha slaw, the amazing fries. I've gorged on their left-field breakfast items: the sweet corn waffles with sauteed banana and blueberries and chili maple syrup--wackadoodle, but unbelievably tasty. It's innovative. I cannot wait to see our local What The Fork Truck on Kelly and Michael on Thursday 25th July, the business owners truly deserve a forking good review. After reading of Pia's hard prep work, the licensing, the calorie counting, the assembly, the marketing, the clean up, the shopping, sleep and repeat, makes me appreciate our local food truck even more. Go local business, GO!
So, if you are looking for a fun read that will make you laugh and whet your appetite, Brooklyn Girls is it. It's new adult, but I don't think it's limited to a young readership. Whether 22, or 34, or 66, life can be a daring adventure--crikey, I still haven't figured it out--but I hope that, like Pia, if you don't settle, if you dream big, and work hard, and never give up when you are passionate about something or someone, even if all the odds are stacked against you and there are baseball-batted loan sharks at your door, everything will work out in the end.