“The actual day that the book came out was very anticlimactic,” Adrienne Kane (left) told us when we asked about the publication of her memoir, Cooking and Screaming, earlier this year. “I made cupcakes, and then later that day I got a moving violation.” Kane had come into Manhattan at our request to meet with Giulia Melucci (right), who was just a few days away from the official release of her memoir, I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti. “I have absolutely no plans for my pub date,” Melucci confided. “I’ll probably be alone; I think I’ll get a manicure… I didn’t want the last few months to end at all, and now I can’t wait for Thursday.”
Both books combine personal narrative with recipes (which is what inspired us to invite the two authors to Housing Works for coffee), but they reached that common ground from different directions. Kane had been working on a cookbook after her food blog, Nosheteria, had attracted some interest from an agent. Shortly after that agent lost interest in the project, Kane went out for lunch with a friend who convinced her to write a memoir about how relearning to cook had helped her recover from a stroke that paralyzed the right side of her body when she was 21. Some of the recipes from Cooking and Screaming came from that initial cookbook project, some from the catering career she’d launched while she was recuperating, and others from her family.
Melucci, however, started writing after the end of a bad relationship motivated her to set her dating history down on paper. “I always wanted to be a writer, which is why I dated all those writers,” she joked, “but I started out writing a memoir knowing that the memoir was not enough—and through the memoir I found the cookbook.” While Kane uses her recipes as chapter headings, Melucci sprinkles them throughout the narrative, stopping the story to explain how to prepare the dishes she’s just described making for her boyfriends.
About those recipes: We were curious about how much double-checking went into the published versions of what in some cases are tantamount to family legacies. Kane admitted that she’d made her frittata recipe so many times she never wanted to eat it again (though other people’s variations would be fine), but Melucci couldn’t do that, she said—too many of the dishes she included are her staple meals. Both writers called upon their friends: “I had dinner parties every single night for a month,” Melucci recalled. Kane also threw parties, but with a double purpose; she gathered the people she’d written about together and had them pick out their new names for the book. Melucci did all that without consultation… well, with one notable exception. “My first boyfriend got to make up his new name,” she revealed, “because I still like him.”