Before she became a household name, Deborah Madison spent almost twenty years as an ordained Buddhist priest, and has long been revered as this country's leading authority on vegetables. This is her story.
The splendidly meandering narrative reads like a long dinner party with plenty of wine as Madison tells of cooking for M.F.K. Fisher’s birthday and working with Mark Miller, Richard Olney, David Tanis, Judy Rodgers and Waters, with whom she remains great friends ... Madison’s personal account of the vegetarian movement, told in her gentle, engaging voice, is a collection of salient moments in a well-lived life.
... thoughtful and thought-provoking ... Madison writes evocatively about her youth in Davis, California, and a short stint in Japan ... The book takes on added piquancy when talking about Madison’s botanist father and wildly creative mother ... The book doesn’t digest other sections of Madison’s personal history as thoroughly, though, with more depth devoted to food-related facts. In fairness, Madison makes even nut loaf a pleasure to read about, but her reserve leaves the reader hungry for even more.
This disarming memoir, An Onion in My Pocket, is full of surprises. For a start, it’s not generally known that for almost 20 years [the author] was an ordained Buddhist in a monastic community. Or, that when she was a child, her parents refused to buy her Twinkies, so she stole them. She never had a TV dinner. She never had a TV ... Ms. Madison is not a die-hard vegetarian; she calls herself an omnivore. Above all, she doesn’t believe in imposing beliefs on others. 'I really prefer to be flexible enough to just say thank you for whatever appears on the plate.' A lesson learned from the monastery, of course, and one of many in this insightful memoir.