Monday, June 16, 2014

Summer Food Reads: Stacey Ballis "Good Enough to Eat"

“I hate those books where the heroine faces loss and desperation with a total lack of appetite.” 

As a self-professed lover of chick lit, Stacey Ballis has been on my radar for a while now, but “Good Enough to Eat” was my first experience with her writing. And I’ve got to tell you, she lives up to her master-of-chick-lit reputation.

When I look forward to a book and its better than I hoped:

I read GETE in one sitting--a plane ride full of spit-your-drink-out-laughs, lots and lots of tears, and plenty of salivating over delicious descriptions of yummy eats…come to think of it, that’s a lots of bodily fluids expelled in a very confined space.  I’m sure the person sitting next to me was very happy when that plane finally landed.

But anyway, let’s talk about what made GETE so great. First, the concept behind the book is original and slightly mind-blowing. Living in a culture that has a “get skinny and all your happily ever after will land right in your lap” attitude, it was so shocking and refreshing to read about a protagonist who worked her ass off (literally) to get into shape, and then her life promptly falls apart because of it. And I definitely cared about Melanie’s life falling apart, because she was such a full and loveable character for me.

Melanie really drove this novel. I felt completely invested in her and her struggles with heartache, food, and creating the life that was right for her. And creating the life she wants isn’t easy. My biggest pet peeve is when a protagonist in a chick-lit books flaw is “clumsiness.”


Real girls have real flaws.

Ballis doesn’t try to feed us (no pun intended) that clumsiness shit. Melanie is flawed. She gets grouchy, she has a bad attitude sometimes, and she is honest. One of my favorite ‘Melanie moments’ is this, “I pull into my parking lot of my gym, and am immediately irritated that the only parking spaces are at the opposite end from the entrance. Because lord knows that just because I’m about to work out for forty minutes doesn’t mean I want to walk an extra fifty steps if I don’t have to.”

I’m pretty sure Melanie is my spirit animal.

Melanie works hard on her life, and things don’t come together in a typical-chick-lit way for her. I don’t want to give too much away, but I admire a character who pushes for her own happiness, and doesn’t rely on a knight-in-shining-armor or a streak of good luck to solve all of her problems. Because ladies, life isn’t like that.

The message I took away from GETE was that you are the chef of your own life. You don’t always get to choose the ingredients you’re given, but you choose what you do with them and what kind of culinary masterpiece you create out of your life.

Okay, I’m getting sentimental here.

And hungry.

Speaking of hungry, Ballis adds recipes from the book as an afterward, because she clearly loves her readers and wants us to be happy (and well-fed).

I had the "Macaroni and Cheese for Every Day" for lunch and it was incredible. I'm going to make the Turkey Meat Loaf tomorrow! 

Macaroni and Cheese for Every Day
(should probably have been called "Amaze-Balls Mac and Cheese")
(made with gluten-free pasta of course!)
If you want the recipes, here is where you can buy Ballis’s book. Trust me, its “Good Enough to Eat.” (Although don’t actually eat it. Especially if you buy it on kindle.)

I read Stacey Ballis's "Good Enough to Eat" as part of my summer "food books" reading list. Feel free to read along with me!

***Note: Not all of Ballis's recipes are not gluten-free, but easily adaptable.