Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook

Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook

Alice Waters / Jul 18, 2019

Coming to My Senses The Making of a Counterculture Cook The long awaited memoir from cultural icon and culinary standard bearer Alice Waters recalls the circuitous road and tumultuous times leading to the opening of what is arguably America s most influent

  • Title: Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook
  • Author: Alice Waters
  • ISBN: 9780307718280
  • Page: 483
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The long awaited memoir from cultural icon and culinary standard bearer Alice Waters recalls the circuitous road and tumultuous times leading to the opening of what is arguably America s most influential restaurant.When Alice Waters opened the doors of her little French restaurant in Berkeley, California in 1971 at the age of 27, no one ever anticipated the indelible marThe long awaited memoir from cultural icon and culinary standard bearer Alice Waters recalls the circuitous road and tumultuous times leading to the opening of what is arguably America s most influential restaurant.When Alice Waters opened the doors of her little French restaurant in Berkeley, California in 1971 at the age of 27, no one ever anticipated the indelible mark it would leave on the culinary landscape Alice least of all Fueled in equal parts by naivet and a relentless pursuit of beauty and pure flavor, she turned her passion project into an iconic institution that redefined American cuisine for generations of chefs and food lovers In Coming to My Senses Alice retraces the events that led her to 1517 Shattuck Avenue and the tumultuous times that emboldened her to find her own voice as a cook when the prevailing food culture was embracing convenience and uniformity Moving from a repressive suburban upbringing to Berkeley in 1964 at the height of the Free Speech Movement and campus unrest, she was drawn into a bohemian circle of charismatic figures whose views on design, politics, film, and food would ultimately inform the unique culture on which Chez Panisse was founded Dotted with stories, recipes, photographs, and letters, Coming to My Senses is at once deeply personal and modestly understated, a quietly revealing look at one woman s evolution from a rebellious yet impressionable follower to a respected activist who effects social and political change on a global level through the common bond of food.

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      Published :2018-012-24T22:09:01+00:00

    About "Alice Waters"

      • Alice Waters

        Alice Waters is a chef, author, food activist, and the founder and owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, California She has been a champion of local sustainable agriculture for over four decades In 1995 she founded the Edible Schoolyard Project, which advocates for a free school lunch for all children and a sustainable food curriculum in every public school.She has been Vice President of Slow Food International since 2002 She conceived and helped create the Yale Sustainable Food Project in 2003, and the Rome Sustainable Food Project at the American Academy in Rome in 2007.Her honors include election as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007 the Harvard Medical School s Global Environmental Citizen Award, which she shared with Kofi Annan in 2008 and her induction into the French Legion of Honor in 2010 In 2015 she was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Obama, proving that eating is a political act, and that the table is a powerful means to social justice and positive change Alice is the author of fifteen books, including New York Times bestsellers The Art of Simple Food I II and The Edible Schoolyard A Universal Idea.


    1. I desperately wanted to like this book. I'm a huge fan of Alice Waters, her restaurant Chez Panisse, and the work that she has done with transforming the food culture in American. When the author was growing up, her family ate mostly convenience foods - mashed potato flakes, boxed cake mixes, etc. It wasn't until she spent a year abroad in France that she began to understand about flavor, freshness, and what it means to be thoughtful and intentional about your eating. She wanted to bring that ex [...]

    2. I love this woman. This book is exactly what I want to read this week, I started it on a flight from Hawaii and just finished two days later. I swear by her cookbooks, she has changed my life and I got to meet her this year on the flight back from New York City. A GEM.Way to go Alice waters, small groups change the world always.

    3. I don't know why I even requested this book from the library. Generally, I'm interested in people who become chefs and what brought them to that vocation. Years ago, I read many books on fascinating chefs that were well written. This book is not one of them. Alice Waters should just stick to cooking and forget about penning a memoir. I could only get through half before I finally gave up. I found the writing to be juvenile, boring, with tons of name-dropping. It seemed very stilted to me. I coul [...]

    4. Very fascinating but it takes place from her birth to Chez Panisse opening in 1971 (some mentions take place past this time). But it doesn't cover the most interesting parts of her life: running a restaurant for 45 years, her marriage, her daughter, Edible Schoolyard. I was disappointed as the last disc came to a close and this was all glossed over. Maybe one day there will be a part 2.

    5. loved! Book ends at the opening of her cafe Chez Panisse. Participated in Free Speech Movement, Berkeley while she tried to make her cafe “perfect”. Lots of picture, very enjoyable.

    6. Well it starts with the pitiful photo on the front and doesn't progress much beyond that. Alice is a remarkable woman especially if you watch the PBS special on American Masters but I didn't get it from the book. She skips around and does tell all in regard to drugs and sex but it is all her early life that could have been covered in a couple chapters. There is nothing about her life after the restaurant got successful, her daughter and the edible school yard. These latter things I would have be [...]

    7. I realllyyyyy wanted this book to be good, because Alice is one of the most import Bay Area icons. The book left me constantly wanting to know more. She glosses over key moments in her life and doesn't really give herself enough credit for what she did in the Bay. It could have used a strong editor or ghost writer.

    8. ---- Disclosure: I received this book for free from . ----Sadly, I didn't get through the book. I did my best for 3 or 4 days, and finally conceded that I just wasn't going to make it. I'm at somewhat of a loss as to explain why, though. I kept finding myself growing tired, or catching myself dazed out. I know I was not at all a fan of the way the timelines would jump from her youth to more recent events. It seemed to prevent any coherent tale from forming. I thought I would like this book, as I [...]

    9. 3.5 starsI decided to listen to this book because it is read by Alice Waters. While she cannot really compare to the many wonderful, professionally-trained actors who read audiobooks, I still enjoyed hearing the story from her. She is in her 70s now, I think, and there is something mind-blowing about hearing someone that age talk about how she payed for the building that is now Chez Panisse with the help of parents, friends, and some "un-named dope dealers." How she came to be such a culinary le [...]

    10. I love Alice Waters and was extremely excited about this book, enough so that I grabbed an ARC months before it came out. And then took me forever to finish it. Unfortunately, much of the book was disappointing. The beginning was slow and mostly involved her family and upbringing. The writing felt juvenile and disjointed, and, sorry to say, boring. It finally picked up when she got to Berkeley and began talking more about food which is what I wanted to hear about in the first place. There was a [...]

    11. I really loved this book, and don't understand the harsh reviews. To me this was a wonderful life story, she has really packed a lot of living into her life. From this I learned about ingredients and food and cooking- passion. And about men, and sex and love, and most importantly knowing your own value whether that is not being sad when someone doesn't want you, whether that's a job you don't fit in with, or a man that doesn't see your value. I'm sure she has cried over plenty of things in her l [...]

    12. You may be familiar with the name Alice Waters or her restaurant, Chez Panisse, or even heard references to the Edible Schoolyard Project here and there. Now comes the story of Waters: her various career paths, travels, relationships, etc all leading to her life's major passion project – a restaurant with a nouveau idea at the time of a fixed daily menu option (influenced by her travels in France). Local ingredients, a place for people of the "counterculture" to gather, eat, debate, and just r [...]

    13. I received this book as a giveaway.Before reading Alice Waters' memoir, I will honestly say I knew very little about this acclaimed restaurateur other than Chez Panisse was ground-breaking and she has been a strong believer of farm-to-table long before it was chic. I loved reading about her adventures in Paris, and how her chance meetings with various artistes and love of fresh French food led her to taking the plunge to opening a restaurant in a very difficult environment. At times she was rep [...]

    14. Book club strikes again! I've never been a foodie nor have I ever heard of Chez Panisse (apparently I missed that revolution -the only Alice's restaurant of legend I'm familiar with is Arlo Guthrie's) so, to put it plainly, I was completely uninterested and uninformed going into this. Further, from the complete lack of introduction, I think the author and the publisher assumed every one of us reading this book was aware of the illustrious history of the restaurant. Well, let me be the first to s [...]

    15. I grabbed this because Michael Pollan blurbed the back. Wow Waters is interesting. Sometimes it feels like people become outsized participants of history because they get swept up. It's like a wave the rises and some person, it could be anyone, that's somewhere at sometime becomes larger than life. That's kinda Waters. This book is a collection (a recollection?) of stories from her life. Rather than a singled mindedness to change the world Waters just wanted to eat well, speak freely, and have f [...]

    16. I've only even been familiar with the reputation of Chez Panisse and the reverent tones by which American food journalists wrote about Alice Waters. I've yet to had the chance to visit her restaurant - I'd love to go one day - so this book was an incredible insight into not just the conception of the restaurant, but the life of Waters up until its opening.Waters was so much more lively and funny and honest and self-deprecating than I thought. It's an offering, I suspect, that's just as heartfelt [...]

    17. I'm not sure how this wound up on my book list (and actually I waited for it) as cooking doesn't interest me. Still, it was an interesting read.

    18. This was great. The audiobook is read by Alice Waters and her voice makes it seem like she's just telling you the story herself in person and not reading a book. The simple stories she tells of her life and all the little experiences that made her who she is, felt like she was explaining the recipe she used to make you a wonderful meal. I don't think it was intentionally written like that, I think it's just how her natural style comes out. Which I loved. I like to think this could have been me i [...]

    19. Simple and honest, I was very taken with Waters' clear and concise writing style as well as her willingness to be open and revealing. Often she criticizes herself has being naive, but this is the part of her I felt most pulled into.I ate at Chez Panisse when I was in Berkeley about a month ago. I ate at the cafe and wasn't entirely blown away with the experience, but it was definitely a nice meal and a nice place to share a meal with friends. After reading the book, I can look back and say the l [...]

    20. I originally came for the food & a memoir of sorts of Alice Waters but, Holy Basil!, I came away completely charmed & impressed by this Francophile woman whose food activism is rooted in simple, seasonal ingredients prepared with utmost care using the most basic & time-tested, tried & true methods. Whether you eat to live or live to eat, we have choices, it can be argued, at every economic level. Sure it can be hard to readily see them due to the blight of bad-for-you banality bo [...]

    21. What an interesting person Alice Waters is. She is a dreamer and an explorer. Reading her memoir the reader can see how the idea for creating Chez Panisse had marinated within her for many years. She was inspired by travel, friends, family, film, nature and other subtleties of her life she valued and noticed. In the end, she brought her disciplined imagination to create a restaurant that changed the way America thought about food.

    22. Alice starts planning to open Chez Panisse literally 80% of the way through the book, and the book ends after the first night. I wish the entire book had been like that last chapter, a description of the food, plates, cooks, and candles in her lovely restaurant. She lived in Berkeley during the 1960s and had some remarkable, enviable adventures traveling around Europe in an Austin Mini, but the verve and vision of her restaurants, cookbooks, and school gardens is disappointingly absent here. Thi [...]

    23. I wanted her to have more of an ethos than "I studied abroad in France and they're just sooooo much more sophisticated than we are," but you can't make people be what you expect from them. The main takeaway I got from this is that I don't know where the line between the freewheeling "anything goes" mentality of the 60s and a high level of privilege is when it comes to Following Your Dreams (TM). I certainly think it's nice that so many of these people became calligraphers or organic farmers or r [...]

    24. 4.5 rounding up because I'm so disappointed to see so many negative reviews, I want this to be extra positive. I totally enjoyed this book, although I have never dined at the restaurant I am very aware of it from my youth, as a native Californian it's been a long time institution. I didn't know she was so "counter culture", I enjoyed reliving the era with her. I listened with whispersynch and I always enjoy when the authors read their own works. I was completely entertained, never found it borin [...]

    25. Did nobody edit this book? The writing is so awful I stopped reading halfway through despite being extremely interested in learning more about Alice Waters’ history.

    26. I loved learning more about Alice Waters journey and how Chez Panisse came to be. There's such a joy of food and simple pleasures of life, the small things that make life beautiful and pleasurable. I've always wanted to have a meal there and now I can't wait!

    27. I knew nearly nothing about Alice Waters before reading this book; but I knew that other food writers whose books I liked (Dan Barber, David Lebovitz, maybe Michael Pollan) had something to do with Chez Panisse at some point in their lives. That's why I picked it up.I read the e-book version. The structure was confusing - several parts were written in italics, and I'm not sure what distinguished them from the non-italics text. Perhaps they were side stories but so was much of the main text - a l [...]

    28. The summary is that the first half was terrible and the second half was pretty good.In the second half, she really talks about food in an interesting way. She also talks about how Chez Pannise came to be, in a meaningful way. There were some quite beautiful descriptions and discussions. She recognizes that Chez Panisse was really a time-place phenomenon that may not have been able to happen if not in Bezerkley in the hippie era. She talks about how it is amazing that the place worked, considerin [...]

    29. This is a funny book, and when I say funny, I really mean that. It is a little bit comic and a little bit odd. The one thing that it does not come across as is arrogant. She looks back on her youth, her growing up experience, going away to college and becoming more independent, and then her first forays out into the world, all in an attempt to show how she came to be the woman who opened Chez Panisse at the age of 27, without any experience in cooking, running a restaurant specifically, or a bus [...]

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