Red Velvet Underground

A Rock Memoir, with Recipes

This was a great book. It combined a few things that are really important to me, parenting, cooking and music, and combined them in to one story. The author is currently a food columnist but has previously been a drummer in a few different bands. The book is part memoir and part cookbook and the way it's told is totally unique. Instead of doing a linear narrative she focuses on a year that she spent teaching one of her sons to cook before he left for college. These lessons are then tied in to stories from her current life and her past.

I thought the author had a great story telling style and I enjoyed it a lot. It was like sitting down with a friend and listening to them tell stories about their life. The book flowed very smoothly and was easy to read. The stories were interesting and I found myself relating to a lot of the things she talked about.

Each chapter contained multiple recipes and I found the ones that I tried easy to follow. There is a wide assortment of recipes, both savory and sweet, and I think there is something for everyone.

I thought this was one of the best cookbooks I've read this year (& I've read a lot) and I would definitely recommend it. Even if you don't cook much I think you'll enjoy the story.


Book Blurb for Red Velvet Underground

Part memoir, part cookbook, Red Velvet Underground tells the story of how Smith’s indie-rock past evolved into her domestic present—and how food played a significant role in both.

Freda Love was a 19-year-old college dropout who’d escaped Indiana for Boston when she became the drummer for The Blake Babies in 1989. Twenty-five years later, she’s the suburban mother of two teenaged sons, teaching at a prestigious university, and thinking about restarting her last band, the Mysteries of Life. Her oldest is getting ready to head to college, and she realizes one of the best things she can do for him is teach him to cook.

Red Velvet Underground tells the story of how Smith's indie-rock past evolved into her domestic present. Loosely framed around cooking lessons she gives her older son, her story moves back and forward in time as she recollects how she got started in music, and how her career in rock eventually dovetailed with her passion for cooking and, later, the growth of her family. The book intersperses forty-five recipes with personal stories about her music career, cooking, eating, and family.

Throughout, she reflects on how food and music have intersected throughout her life, from the time The Smiths’ ?Meat is Murder” inspired her to become vegetarian, to vigorously beating dough at her college bakery job to The Velvet Underground, to seeing her musician son through his one-month experiment with veganism.

As she compares her son's experiences to her own, Smith plumbs the deeper meanings behind the role of cooking in her life, her experiences starting and playing in different bands (in one of which?Antenna?she met her future husband, Jake Smith), going on the road, and pursuing work in and out of music as she raises her sons.

Smith tells her story with characteristically Midwestern warmth and grace. Red Velvet Underground is a charming exploration of the ways food and music have informed identity through every stage of one woman’s life.


Night Owl Reviews Dec, 2015 4.50