I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti is the first book by author Giulia Melucci. In short, it’s a love-logue/recipe book where Melucci systematically exhumes her most significant relationships, chapter by chapter, along with the meals that accompanied the rise and fall of each of them. While the men in this book are less than, umm…impressive, her recipes are grounded in the comforting and nourishing meals of her Italian-American upbringing.
Melucci certainly has guts to bare it all. She begins with her first real relationship and the story of Kit, a sweet young writer who, over the course of their four-year relationship, descends deeper into alcoholism. (BTW, the first meal she cooks for him is Spaghetti Carbonara.) Melucci displays her sense of humor when she includes a recipe from Kit.
“Kit’s Drunken Soup. Open can of Progresso chicken noodle soup. Put in saucepan over medium heat. Pass out on couch. Cook until girlfriend hears strange crackling sounds and gets out of bed to see what’s going on and turns off burner to deal with the mess in the morning. Time: Usually about four hours. Serves: no one.”
Next up is the classic New York commitment-phobe, then an immature hipster writer, a truly awful older dude, and finally a siphoning Scotsman who so devastates Melucci that she reaches bottom…and decides to write about it all.
While reading ILILIMS, it’s tempting to play armchair psychologist. She does have a tendency to go for the same sort of empty calorie guy over and over again. At times, her pain is palpable and you’ll want to scream, maybe even send her an email that says, “GET OUT NOW!” But that would be missing the point.
The real essence of this book is the desire to share love and affection through food. Food becomes a vehicle for both her best and worst inclinations. Meals like Spaghettini in a White Truffle Oil Peignoir are sensuous love letters. Others become needless stabs at shoring up some security and repeatedly proving herself a good friend, a good lover, a good provider. Melucci wears her smarts and her humor like armor and they serve her well as a writer. I’d love to see more from this author on the heart and art of cooking, for which she seems to have a very natural instinct.