Book Review: White Jacket Required


Review a cookbook? Not really. But White Jacket Required is not really a cookbook. At least not a full blown recipe book. Although it does contain recipes. There are anywhere from one to 4 recipes per chapter. From the book description, as listed on Amazon:

White Jacket Required is a coming of age story of it’s author, Jenna Weber. The story follows the ups and downs of the author as she confronts the rigors of training, gets her first job, deals with a family crisis and enters into a love affair.

I stumbled on the PBS Fresh Tastes food blog a few months ago, since I rediscovered my passion for cooking and baking. Since then I have been an avid follower of both Jenna Weber of Eat, Live, Run and Marc Matsumoto of The Wandering Cook.

Visiting Eat, Live, Run is a daily routine for me as I scour the web for fresh new ideas and recipes. I am happy to state that I have successfully cooked many of her recipes (baring the Oatmeal Sandwich Bread which I definitely intend to retry again soon and succeed!). As with my passion for cooking,  I recently have resumed my passion for reading and writing. So it should come as no surprise that I decided to read White Jacket Required. And no surprise at all that I should wish to write a review. After all, what better way to improve my writing style, but by reviewing and critiquing a book?

Let me be be frank and state that it was a slow start. I read a few chapters and set it aside for a while and resumed reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which interestingly re-engaged my enthusiasm for the the classics. After a hiatus of almost a week, with time on my hand, I resumed reading White Jacket Required again.

The book is an autobiography by Jenna Weber as she embarks on her pursuit of a culinary degree at Le Cordon Bleu  College in Florida. The first half of this autobiographical account is dry and insipid.  The narrative runs through the routine of daily life as she progresses in her pursuit of a culinary degree with the ultimate goal to become a food  writer. It talks about her travails as she adjusts to the program, and the usual melange of emotions of uncertainty, elation and indecision that dominate the pursuit of her dreams.

It is unfortunate that it is a tragedy that awakens the author and narrative shows greater emotion and conflict.  The second half picks up on a firmer ground as the author comes to terms with an irreparable loss and plucks some courage to take bold new actions. The narrative ends abruptly and we are left to wonder what the future holds for the author.

I thoroughly enjoy reading Jenna’s blog. She portrays a sense of humor and I have enjoyed cooking many of her recipes. So White Jacket Required was less than satisfying read.

I did make the Greek Salad recipe from the book which you can find here

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