Excerpt from Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Dinner with Edward

A Story of an Unexpected Friendship

by Isabel Vincent

Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent X
Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent
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  • First Published:
    May 2016, 224 pages
    Jun 2017, 224 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster
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Print Excerpt

"You can't just wish it there," he continued, referring to the long prep time. "It's not going to happen. It just cooks and cooks for days, becoming more and more concentrated."

I nodded my comprehension and spoke in hushed tones about how wonderful everything tasted. Not because I was trying to please him, but because I was truly in awe. For Edward, cooking was not just about satisfying hunger. Cooking was a passion and sometimes a serious art form, to be shared with a select few. He refused to provide tips or write out his recipes for people who he felt had no affinity for cooking. As he poured some Malbec, he told me about another dinner guest who had raved about his chicken paillard.

Oh, Edward, you must give me the recipe!

But Edward told me he had no intention of sharing his paillard secrets with her. "Real cooking requires devotion," he pronounced. "And I could tell she was not devoted."

I've learned a lot about cooking from Edward. He has taught me to make the most sublime roast chicken using a paper bag and a handful of herbs, create the perfect pastry ("Butter, and a little bit of lard in the dough, darling") and to sprinkle balsamic vinegar on pasta to allow the sauce to cling. But from the beginning of our relationship, I knew instinctively that his culinary tips went far beyond the preparation of food. He was teaching me the art of patience, the luxury of slowing down and taking the time to think through everything I did.

When I asked him for a lesson in deboning a chicken in order to make a galantine, I knew that what Edward would end up imparting was far weightier than the butchery of poultry. In hindsight, I realize he was forcing me to deconstruct my own life, to cut it back to the bone and examine the entrails, no matter how messy that proved to be.

Edward lived on Roosevelt Island in a stately co-op with wide terraces, poured concrete hallways, a sunken swimming pool, and large picture windows overlooking the East River.

I had recently moved to Roosevelt Island at my husband's insistence in a last-ditch effort to save our marriage. Unlike Edward, I was a reluctant inhabitant. A year earlier we had relocated to Manhattan from Toronto with our young daughter so that I could take up an offer to work as an investigative reporter at the New York Post. We had been living a few blocks from Hannah's school on the Upper East Side, and a day didn't go by that my husband didn't rail at our confined quarters, the crowds on the subways, the garbage-strewn playgrounds in our neighborhood, and alternate side-of-the-street parking—that once a week municipally ordained torture only New York City vehicle owners understand.

Maintaining a car in New York is a logistical nightmare. If you park on city streets as do many New Yorkers who cannot afford the $400 or more monthly garage fees, you need to move your car twice a week in order to accommodate the city's street cleaners. Because parking spots are at such a premium, most drivers move their cars across the street and sit double-parked in their vehicles for the hour and a half that it takes the street sweepers to do their job.Then they quickly slide back to their old spots.

For me, alternate side parking was but a minor inconvenience, a quaint and necessary hardship of city life. It's true I wasn't the one who had to sit in the car for an hour and a half until the street-sweeping trucks passed by. But there were other nuisances, such as lugging heavy bags of groceries on the subway, exorbitant prices for just about everything in Manhattan, rushing the wrong way through the wall of rush-hour crowds to get to an assignment, or to collect Hannah from school. I felt these were small issues, endured by everyone around me—all of us part of an exclusive fraternity of the shared frustration that is life in New York City.

Excerpted from Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent. Copyright © 2016 by Isabel Vincent. Excerpted by permission of Algonquin Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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