Mary Giuliani’s memoir Tiny Hot Dogs: A Memoir in Small Bites intrigued me because I love talking about food as much as I love reading. Just yesterday I had a friend over for coffee and when she left my husband remarked, “You spoke about food for two hours straight…”
Giuliani owns a catering/events business that has a long list of A-list celebrities as its clients. She grew up nearish to New York in a predominately Jewish neighbourhood which she managed to intertwine with her own strong Italian Catholic background. The opening of the book felt a little lost on me at times and I wonder, in part, if this is due to having a vastly different cultural/geographical upbringing. I didn’t always get the references and whilst they were sometimes explained, I still felt a bit lost. I grew up in a small suburb on the coast in New South Wales, Australia. I largely didn’t watch American shows growing up, in part because there weren’t that many when I was a child, and also because my parents, and father in particular, thought that American culture was ruining Australia. I felt like at times in Giuliani’s novel that I was sure it was funny, I just wasn’t sure how.
Giuliani’s memoir is punctuated with recipes and often times these recipes complement the stories in the chapter. The recipes look great and I am tempted to try a few myself. Although, to be honest, reading some of these Italian recipes with a tomato allergy makes me nervous. But the memoir is not really the story of a woman who always loved cooking and throwing parties. It is more the story of a woman who found her way through life in not the most obvious directions. Giuliani talks about her love of acting and how she tried for many years to be a star. With some inspiration of her once-famous father, Giuliani tries her luck at acting and falls into catering as more of a day job. When she meets chef, Daniel Mattrocce she learns that she could perhaps have something more. As Giuliani puts it:
“Her call was a wake up call about the dreams you think you need to fulfill and the dreams you don’t realize are swirling around your subconscious.”p. 63
The idea of always being focused on a goal or always working towards something specific is something taught to us from a very young age. It is seen as an extremely positive attribute to follow things through till the end. To reach success, always. Yet, the older I get the more I wonder if our tunnel-vision attitudes toward success stop us from being the type of successful we actually want to be. If Giuliani never took on the advice of Mattrocce, would she have written the book she has; experienced the life she has; met Robert De’Nero? Taking a look out the corner of your eye could change your life in the best possible way.
There are little gems all throughout Giuliani’s memoir and it is as much about funny celebrity stories and stripper birthdays as it is about real and raw life experiences that shape you or break you. Giuliani’s discussions of having endometriosis and fertility problems which affected her career, relationships, and mental health are extremely brave at a time when women’s health is still largely treated as hysterics rather than a real problem. She talks about her 18-day and 14-week pregnancies that ended with miscarriages and finally meeting her daughter Gala Lee via a surrogate.
Overall, there are some really giggle-worthy moments like the murder of Tenille the turtle by her lover, Captain juxtaposed with gut wrenching personal stories of sadness and loss. The memoir is very Nora-Ephron-esque, which is never a bad thing in my books. I do sometimes wish that the narrative had a better red-thread because at times I felt things were rushed or jumped around a little. To sum up the success and triumphs of Giuliani’s memoir in her own words:
“[P]eople will leave, people will hurt you, people will move on, but you’ve done your job well—and by “well” I mean helped them find their wings—then all you can feel is proud when it’s their turn to fly.p.84
Are you excited for the April 2019 publication of Mary Giuliani’s memoir “Tiny Hot Dogs”? Do you like memoirs that offer some bite-sized life advice with some killer meatball recipes? As always share the reading love.
NOTE: This memoir was was accessed through Netgalley and Running Press Adult.