Moira Hodgson is British by birth and cosmopolitan by education. The daughter of a Foreign Service officer, she spent her childhood in many a strange and exotic land. She discovered American food in Vietnam, ate wild boar and snails in Berlin, and, when she returned to England as a teenager, learned how to prepare potatoes in every imaginable guise from her eccentric Irish grandmother.
She was seventeen when her father was posted to the United Nations, and in New York was introduced for the first time to oysters and cheesecake. Hodgson continued to pursue her passion for food and travel as a journalist.
Later she lived in Chiapas, Mexico, where she learned to make quesadillas on a charcoal brazier; in Lapland, she cooked on a Coleman stove in the back of a VW bus; and at the farmhouse near Marrakesh where she stayed in Morocco, she dined on a mechoui, a whole lamb that was baked for a day in a pit in the courtyard. Hodgson quickly earned a reputation as a discerning critic and entertaining writer.
It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time reflects Hodgson's talent for connecting her love of food with the people and places in her life. Like Ruth Reichl's bestselling memoirs, it is a glorious celebration of good food and good company.
"Whether it's a plain peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a complex Moroccan stew made with intriguing spices, Hodgson enjoys food that's good. She likes 'simplicity: ingredients that aren't gussied up but allowed to speak for themselves.' Speaking for herself, she's given anyone who loves reading about food a delectable treat." - Library Journal's Editor's Fall Picks, Ann Burns.
"A highly charming raconteur, Hodgson's combination of sparkling anecdotes and tempting recipes is likely to win over foodies." - Publishers Weekly.
"A jolly good memoir, served with savoir-faire." - Kirkus Reviews.
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Rated of 5
This book did not live up to the expectations I had for it. Hodgson wrote very descriptive passages which elicited vivid pictures of the people and places she saw, yet the complete writing was very disjointed. It felt more like a series of postcards from a well traveled friend. In reality I'm sure she learned quite a bit about herself and life, but I never really felt that she got that across to the reader.
Rated of 5
Not Such a Good Idea
There were descriptions of meals, descriptions of travel and some events in the author's life, but none of it flowed. New chapters and even new paragraphs would jump to something not remotely connected to what was written previously, and it seemed very disjointed. This was a constant irritation.
Rated of 5
It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time
Food enthusiasts and New Yorkers familiar with columnist Moira Hodgson will enjoy this biography. She lived in many exotic places and has interesting vignettes. The recipes are as unusual as her travels and include Lamb Tajine with Green Olives and John Cage's Homemade Bread -- no yeast or soda for leavening, perhaps a brick flavored with pureed veggies is the result. If you love travel, biographies and food adventures, search no further.
Rated of 5
Wine, Dine, and Time
I quickly became hooked by Hodgson's memoir, which is fast-paced, mouth-watering, and intensely personal. The recipes that dive into each chapter look simple to make and delicious, but it's Hodgson's nostalgic prose that I like best. The author focuses both on her journey to enjoy food and on the mysteries of the kitchen, while sharing details about her family and her own life. Her travels around the world during childhood and later on as an adult went by a little too quickly to me, but I still enjoyed following her from England to America and every place in between.
Rated of 5
It May Have Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time, But...
Moira Hodgson is undoubtedly an interesting, widely traveled, and well educated woman, but her book of adventures in life and food, It Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time, consistently failed to engage me. From its earliest pages, this personal memoir reads more like a private diary for her own later reference than a set of stories intended to entertain, inform, and amuse an outside audience. Its a dense dump of sequential memories, and deciphering her shifts and transitions of time and place are not often easy for the reader. The addition of section and chapter headings: Egypt, Stockholm, Vietnam, New York, Losing my parents etc. and courteously including more foreign phrase translations and inside joke explanations would have greatly improved its clarity and flow.
Rated of 5
A Pretty Good Idea
Part travelogue and part food commentary, this memoir by New York Observer restaurant critic Moira Hodgson brings to mind the work of Ruth Reichl but is not quite as satisfying. Hodgson exemplifies her memories with recipes, sometimes easy to follow and sometimes not. She name-drops relentlessly, particularly in the latter sections of the book, without telling us much about the names she is dropping - I guess we are supposed to know! The writing is entertaining; Hodgson's life as the well-traveled daughter of a British Foreign Service officer, and as a gadabout adult searching for a writing career is interesting and she tells it well. If you are looking for a "foodie" book, though, Reichl is a better bet.
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