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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Expecting an interesting combination of food and travel stories, I was quite disappointed in Moira Hodgson's book. Rather than pulling the reader in with interesting characters, she spends too much time in recounting personal encounters with names I didn't recognize. I felt out of step with her stories, but perhaps this book would be a better fit for those growing up in the WWII era.
It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: My Adventures in Life and Food
What captured my interest was the title. How could I not want to read this book--I quite enjoy good ideas, life, and food! This book isn't just about food; it starts out with the author, Moira Hodgson, traveling with her parents to different countries and the cuisine she and her family experience in each. An interesting aspect of this book is that it is not a cookbook but there are recipes throughout. They are not hard to follow. The stories in the book are not hard to follow either and if one likes learning and reading about different cultures, social classes, and their cuisines from a participating observer (as Ms. Hodgson is), then this book is for you.