I just finished reading White Jacket Requiredby Jenna Weber, blogger of Eat, Live, Run. I came across this book on Amazon while I was searching for food blog related books. This book popped up as the author is a popular food blogger that went from digital to print. The reviews were filled with negative comments. I agree with many of the readers that the book lacked depth. The chapters seemed rushed. But I was still intrigued to read it to learn how a novel of one’s culinary journey should not be written (the don’ts) and also because it seemed like the book was written by a woman who went through many of the same experiences I went through.
Like Jenna, I also earned my Bachelors in English (with an emphasis in Creative Writing), then went on to culinary school (years later, not right away as Jenna did). I did enjoy the book on a superficial level, but I craved more details and intensity while I was reading it.
However, I must say that even with so much of the bits and pieces missing from the book, I was able to actually feel and related to what Jenna was feeling and going through with her experiences because of our similar backgrounds. Jenna’s lack of expressed emotions was a common frustration of most readers. Even with the intense details of what she was feeling, I understood the emotions of joy, excitement, and frustrations that she was experiencing, on a level that only a fellow English Major-then-turned-culinary-student-wannabe-food-writer can understand.
I, too, very much missed the little things pre-culinary world. I miss having manicured nails,- wearing pastel colored nail polish in the spring, metallic colors in the winter, bright loud colors in the summer, and dark dramatic shades in the fall. All femininity really does go out the window once you enter a male-dominated professional kitchen. There is no room to be worrying about if your mascara is smudged, if your clothes don’t match, or if you are having a bad hair day. It wouldn’t be surprising if your colleagues didn’t even know the color of your hair if you didn’t see them outside of work. And on days when you actually have the chance to indulge in getting dressed up and made up, you really feel like a whole other you. You feel like a woman again lol.
Like the author, Meat Fabrication was the one class I really hated. Deboning poultry, scaling and filleting fish were so not fun! Cutting open a whole pig was nauseating. Learning how to use the sausage machine stirred up plenty of jokes and laughs, but still was not fun. And I just couldn’t wait to be done with that class. Until this day, meat/seafood fabrication is my least favorite thing to do in the kitchen.
With all that being said, although I enjoyed reading it, I can see why many people felt shortchanged. If I was not able to relate to so many of the same experiences that the writer was going through (as if it were being written about me at times), I think the confusion and frustrations would have made me enjoy the book way less.