Thursday 27 April 2017

Book ~ "My Fat Dad: A Memoir of Food, Love, and Family, with Recipes" (2015) Dawn Lerman

From Goodreads ~ Dawn Lerman spent her childhood constantly hungry. She craved good food as her father, 450 pounds at his heaviest, pursued endless fad diets, from Atkins to Pritikin to all sorts of freeze-dried, saccharin-laced concoctions, and insisted the family do the same - even though no one else was overweight. Dawn’s mother, on the other hand, could barely be bothered to eat a can of tuna over the sink. She was too busy ferrying her other daughter to acting auditions and scolding Dawn for cleaning the house (“Whom are you trying to impress?”).

It was chaotic and lonely but Dawn had someone she could turn to: her grandmother, Beauty. Those days spent with Beauty, learning to cook, breathing in the scents of fresh dill or sharing the comfort of a warm pot of chicken soup, made it all bearable. Even after Dawn’s father took a prestigious ad job in New York City and moved the family away, Beauty would send a card from Chicago every week - with a recipe, a shopping list and a twenty-dollar bill. She continued to cultivate Dawn’s love of wholesome food, and ultimately taught her how to make her own way in the world - one recipe at a time.

Dawn's father was an advertising executive and they lived in Chicago in the 1960s.  Her parents weren't around much and Dawn spent a lot of time with her maternal grandmother, Beauty, who taught her how to cook and to love cooking.  Dawn's father was always overweight (450 pounds at his heaviest) and usually on a diet of some kind and her mother ate just a can of tuna a day while serving her daughters canned or frozen food.  This influenced Dawn in her eating habits as she wanted to eat healthy.

Dawn's father got job in New York and moved the family there.  Dawn saw even less of her parents because her father was always busy and her sister was on tour for a couple years with a musical and their mother accompanied her.  Dawn was basically left on her own to fend for herself.

I found this book and story to be depressing and dreary.  Her parents were awful and neglected her.  Her father was busy with his job and that kept him out at night entertaining clients.  When they lived in Chicago, her mother was pissed at having to stay home with the kids all week at night.  She made him take her out with him on the weekends so they dumped their kids with Beauty every weekend (though Beauty and Dawn didn't mind this).  Or they left the kids with an abusive babysitter.  Her mother didn't cook but was cheap so fed them canned or frozen foods or fast food.  Dawn didn't want to eat this unhealthy stuff so her mother insulted her and emotionally abused her.

She didn't have many friends ... her closest friends in her pre-teens were Olga, the woman who cooked the lunches at private school she attended, and Jim, the homeless guy she brought home (not an issue since she had no parental supervision).  When she was about fifteen, she fell in love with Hank, a schoolmate, and there was a lot of information about how she wooed him and then their break-up.  Then she started hanging out at Studio 52 while still in her teens.

This is less of a story about Dawn's "fat dad" and more of her story, so not what I was expecting or looking for.  On the positive side, her life experience prompted Dawn to become a nutrition expect.  At the end of every chapter, there are recipes.

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