March 2024

If You Can’t Take the Heat

By Geraldine DeRuiter
Geraldine DeRuiter braids her love of food with feminist critique in her hilarious, relatable memoir If You Can’t Take the Heat.
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Memoirs are expected to be intimate, laying the groundwork for an author’s backstory and how they got to where they are currently. But it is less common for a personal account to be rendered in a way that’s hilarious, clever, profound and poignant at the same time, particularly one with food as its focus.

Geraldine DeRuiter’s If You Can’t Take the Heat: Tales of Food, Feminism, and Fury provides all these elements and more. As the James Beard Award-winning blogger who penned a viral response to celebrity chef Mario Batali’s ill-advised #MeToo “apology” (in which he shared a recipe for cinnamon rolls), DeRuiter is no stranger to writing about culinary escapades. In this meaty series of essays, she travels from her childhood encounters with food to the present day, with many experiences in between that are as entertaining as her gifted voice and knack for description.

Subjects that she covers include religion, teendom, dating and marriage, all the while sharing life lessons that will resonate with many readers. The result is a memoir that is raw, revealing and relatable, with particular attention given to challenges women face in patriarchal society. For example, in a chapter hilariously titled “The Only Thing in My Oven,” she defends her decision not to have children and smartly draws parallels between what others call “maternal instinct” with her desire, since, childhood, to bake. As she explains, “I think a prerequisite to being a parent is that you should want to be one. And there’s a long diatribe here that I could go on about, but simply: parenthood should always be a choice. But baking didn’t feel like a decision. It was a calling.”

Her articulations are sincere and nostalgic, particularly in the story of how she learned about her past and ancestral roots, and how she has processed (and is still processing) what she has discovered. She doesn’t shy away from grappling with childhood trauma, but If You Can’t Take the Heat is by no means depressing. Quite the opposite. DeRuiter’s divulging is comforting and significant to both women and those who have made a similar culinary journey. Readers will find this witty series of vignettes humorous and enlightening.

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If You Can’t Take the Heat

If You Can’t Take the Heat

By Geraldine DeRuiter
ISBN 9780593444481

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