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My Life From Scratch, A Memoir Sweet as a Cupcake

July 7, 2010

My Life from Scratch: A Sweet Journey of Starting Over, One Cake at a Time
Gesine Bullock-Pardo
June 2010 $14.00 240 pages

Reading this memoir without a good, delicious bakery nearby is exquisite torture. Gesine Bullock-Pardo describes herself as a misanthrope, painfully shy and not terribly fond of people. She lavishes love on the pastries she bakes and describes, and on a few quirky people in her inner circle in a tiny Vermont town. The way she describes an espresso-flecked cheesecake or a chocolate-dipped almond macaroon I can almost taste it. The “almost” is the killer. I’m pretty sure I drooled over some of the descriptions.

I like to think I have an indifferent sweet tooth. Mostly, I can ignore cupcakes and the almost aggressive sugar of their frosting. But… for this baker’s luscious taste writing, I begin to rethink my stance. For other readers who find their sweet tooth primed, there are recipes at the end of each chapter. Although I haven’t tested any, each looks detailed enough to shepherd even baking novices through the steps. (Provided said baker has a few key kitchen gadgets, such as a fairly badass electric mixer.)

I admit to being unfair to this book at first, because I’m usually about as interested in Sandra Bullock’s romantic comedies as I am in cupcake frosting. I like both my desserts and my rom-coms minimally sweet. (Grosse Point Blank, one of my favorites, may be the cinematic equivalent of baker’s chocolate.) So, while I enjoy reading about the family closeness of two dissimilar sisters, I admit I was braced for something teeth-hurtingly perky and sweet. (And yes, I’m aware that Sandra Bullock sometimes doesn’t do perky. I still do want to see that football movie she did last year. I’m a sucker for a sentimental sports flick.)

Bullock-Pardo’s wry misanthropy, blended with her clear love for her baking and her oddball small town won me over. As did her memories of growing up, learning to savor baking and slow time with her grandmother. I didn’t need the frame for this story to be her leaving her Hollywood life and seeking something real.I would have happily read it as just a baking and food memoir.

I don’t enjoy reading about people being stifled, or fake, or L.A. culture. People who do lunch? No thanks. People who make lunch, in such mouth-watering detail, in a small-town bakery full of characters? Yes please!

Got this as an ARC, many thanks to Broadway books & co.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 10, 2010 8:13 am

    Hey! I read this book, but with a completely different title!

    Check it out – Confections of a Closet Master Baker.


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