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My Fat Dad by Dawn Lerman

My Fat Dad by Dawn Lerman

“Dawn Lerman grew up Jewish in the 70’s. I grew up Italian. Might sound different, but for the most part, it’s the same. Especially when it comes to food. The philosophy was simple, food = love. My Fat Dad hilariously and poignantly captures that essence Whether you’re Italian, Jewish, or anything else you can relate to how family, food, and the love of both affect how we grow up, and live our life. Mangia!” —Ray Romano, Emmy award-winning actor

“Everything you want in a book about food: Thoughtful, moving, funny and, of course, delicious (see the recipe on sweet potato latkes). Dawn reminds us that eating is about much more than protein and carbs and nutrients—it’s about family, history and identity. Dawn’s grandmother put it best: ‘I can find my heritage in a bowl of soup.” —A.J. Jacobs, journalist and New York Times bestselling author of Drop Dead Healthy

“…will have readers laughing, crying, and nodding all at the same time.” Booklist

“Dawn Lerman takes the reader along on one of life’s important journeys—to find true nourishment. Her discoveries about the powerful ways that food connects us to our families, our heritage, and ultimately to ourselves are profound and beautiful.” 
—Andie Mitchell, New York Times bestselling author of It Was Me All Along

“Laced with love, family dramas, recipes, and the pangs of growing up, Lerman’s memoir is a satisfying treat.” Kirkus

Our relationship with food starts at a very young age: what and how we eat is often determined by our environment and upbringing. Food and family inherently go together, with foods as part of tradition in many families, recipes passed down through generations, and daily meals together or apart influencing our lives. Our habits and tastes are cultivated by our family members’ relationships to food, for better or worse.

Dawn Lerman, the author of the New York Times Well Blog series, “My Fat Dad” and now memoir MY FAT DAD (Berkley Trade Paperback Original; 9780425272237; $16.00; on sale September 29, 2015), spent her early childhood in Chicago constantly hungry as her father—a brilliant copywriter from the Mad Men era of advertising and responsible for such iconic slogans such as “Fly the Friendly Skies” and “Leggo My Eggo”—pursued endless fad diets from Atkins to Pritikin.  At 450 pounds at his heaviest, he insisted Dawn and her mother adopt his often saccharine-laced, freeze-dried food plans to help keep him on track. Dawn’s mother never cooked and she witnessed her mother eat only one real meal a day—a can of tuna over the kitchen sink—while she dashed from audition to audition pursuing an acting career. Since it was the 60s, she relished that “modern food” came in Styrofoam, a can, or containers from the freezer with no cleanup. Dawn felt undernourished both physically and emotionally except for one saving grace: the loving attention she received from her grandmother, Beauty.

Dawn spent every weekend with Beauty, and their time together instilled in Dawn a passion for cooking for oneself and others as she learned that the best food is prepared with the freshest ingredients.  Dawn’s lonely weeks at home were spent counting down the days until the weekend where she would go to her grandmother’s home.  There, food was not an enemy but an agent of generosity, affection, and love as she watched Beauty give cookies to local shop owners, enjoy the adventure of picking out fresh vegetables for supper, and spend hours precisely rolling out dough for the perfect strudel.  Dawn connected with her own Jewish heritage as she learned family recipes for matzo ball soup, sweet potato latkes, brisket and more.  When nine-year old Dawn and her family moved to New York City when her father took a prestigious new job at McCann Erickson, Beauty’s culinary education continued as she sent Dawn a recipe card every week with a twenty-dollar bill. Beauty’s recipe cards became her life-line as she navigated this new metropolis on her own.

MY FAT DAD is as much a coming of age memoir as it is a recipe collection from Dawn Lerman’s upbringing and culinary adventures as she began to explore the vast food landscape of New York City.  With its endless ethnic restaurants and health food stores, which Dawn embraced, she expanded her culinary adventures.  From macrobiotics pie, to salmon with fennel and leeks (learned while spending a summer at Duke’s Fat Farm with her father), to the secret magic weapon brownie recipe that Beauty promised was the secret to capturing a boys heart, and every traditional Jewish recipe passed down through generations in between, Lerman reflects on her colorful family and how food shaped her connections to those she loved.

About the author
Dawn Lerman is a board-certified nutrition expert and a contributor to The New York Times Well blog. Her company, Magnificent Mommies, provides nutrition education to students, teachers, and corporations. She lives in New York City with her two children, Dylan and Sofia.

About the publisher
Penguin Random House ( is the world’s most global trade book publisher. It was formed on July 1, 2013, upon the completion of an agreement between Bertelsmann and Pearson to merge their respective trade publishing companies, Random House and Penguin, with the parent companies owning 53% and 47%, respectively.  Penguin Random House comprises the adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction print and digital trade book publishing businesses of Penguin and Random House in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa, and Penguin’s trade publishing activity in Asia and Brazil; DK worldwide; and Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial’s Spanish-language companies in Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, and Chile. Penguin Random House employs more than 10,000 people globally across almost 250 editorially and creatively independent imprints and publishing houses that collectively publish more than 15,000 new titles annually. Its publishing lists include more than 70 Nobel Prize laureates and hundreds of the world’s most widely read authors.