Saturday, December 01, 2012

Holiday Gift Guide: One Dish at a Time by Valerie Bertinelli

Though the title is an obvious nod to the 1970s sitcom she starred in, Valerie Bertinelli’s One Dish at a Time (Rodale) would stand on its own in a cookbook competition, though it’s true Bertinelli’s celebrity status is what will get the book attention.

Since most of the actress’s earliest fans are now of an age to have children of their own, it seems possible that this book will be a popular choice for gift-giving this season. Especially since it celebrates food and family in a way that Bertinelli’s wholesome looks and reputation only add to. (Despite having spent a very long time married to rocker Eddie Van Halen.) Bertinelli also famously spent some time trying to shed a lot of weight, so the irony of a cookbook is missed by no one. Even so, the former weight loss spokesperson manages to address that aspect of her food background without coming even close to writing a diet cookbook.
One Dish at a Time is not a diet book. Instead, it assumes we all have learned or are in the process of learning moderation rather than deprivation. This book is about appreciating, celebrating, and enjoying good food, not being afraid to eat it.
Fans will enjoy the personal stories and photos from the author’s rather interesting life. But it is a cookbook, and food takes the front seat with recipes as healthy and wholesome as the author herself. From an egg white burrito for one and breakfast smoothies to a whole lot of Italian classics from Bertinelli’s background to “Mrs. Van Halen’s Bami Goreng” (with the “Mrs.” here being Eddie’s mom), One Dish at a Time feels like a biography in a well-photographed and produced cookbook. A welcome bonus: Bertinelli’s candor seems to warm each page. ◊

Monica Stark is a contributing editor to January Magazine. She currently makes her home on a liveaboard boat somewhere in the North Pacific.

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