Coming to My Senses

The Making of a Counterculture Cook
Narrated by: Alice Waters
Length: 8 hrs and 59 mins
4 out of 5 stars (215 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The long-awaited memoir from cultural icon and culinary standard bearer Alice Waters recalls the circuitous road and tumultuous times leading to the opening of what is arguably America's most influential restaurant.

When Alice Waters opened the doors of her "little French restaurant" in Berkeley, California, in 1971 at the age of 27, no one ever anticipated the indelible mark it would leave on the culinary landscape - Alice least of all. Fueled in equal parts by naiveté and a relentless pursuit of beauty and pure flavor, she turned her passion project into an iconic institution that redefined American cuisine for generations of chefs and food lovers.

In Coming to My Senses, Alice retraces the events that led her to 1517 Shattuck Avenue and the tumultuous times that emboldened her to find her own voice as a cook when the prevailing food culture was embracing convenience and uniformity. Moving from a repressive suburban upbringing to Berkeley in 1964 at the height of the free speech movement and campus unrest, she was drawn into a bohemian circle of charismatic figures whose views on design, politics, film, and food would ultimately inform the unique culture on which Chez Panisse was founded.

Dotted with stories, recipes, and letters, Coming to My Senses is at once deeply personal and modestly understated, a quietly revealing look at one woman's evolution from a rebellious yet impressionable follower to a respected activist who effects social and political change on a global level through the common bond of food.

©2017 Alice Waters (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"[Waters] does an artful job of showing how even the most apparently unrelated experiences helped lead her to her profession. She is also quite frank about her failures; her relationships with lovers, friends, and colleagues; and her pride in remaining a part of the 1960's counterculture that nourished her. An almost charmed restaurant life that exhales the sweet aromas of honesty and self-awareness." (Kirkus Reviews)

"Alice Waters's narration is so approachable that it's as if she walks up to your table wearing an apron, carrying an enticing plate of food, and says, 'Eat this while I tell you my story'.... Another person could have narrated her story, but if that were the case, we would have missed hearing her passion for lighting and lettuce, her fears and excitement, and her gentle laugh." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Part of our history

An authentic window on the history of our times written and read by an important participant

3 people found this helpful

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A memoir about culture, not exclusively about food

I expected more of a food memoir, but this book was a surprisingly fascinating (and somewhat star-studded) story about coming of age in Berkeley during the free speech movement. Recommended for fans of Chez Panisse but especially recommended for those who are familiar with Northern California culture and want to learn more about the values and people that shaped Berkeley.

1 person found this helpful

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Good story!

I real y liked how show is able to transport you to his past and how her story is unconventional.

1 person found this helpful

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Authors should NOT narrate their own books!

The WORST narration ever.... it was painful. I had to listen on 1.5 speed to even make it tolerable. Editing in this book is bad too. Lots of redundancy.

2 people found this helpful

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Pretty good

Push past Waters’ voice, and you’ll love it. I’m a cook, and enjoyed her simple but relevant thoughts that led her to success. Makes me believe in my self.

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Heartwarming

As a culinary student in the early 1980’s I was taken with the example of Alice Waters and Chez Panisse. The purity of the food, the connection with the history of cuisine, the intertwining that connected good food with the special moments that make a good life. In the years since, the mystique has become clearer and more relevant and more important than ever. This book is romance and passion and history and it culminates in a happy ending and the hope for more happy endings. It’s a recipe for a beautiful way to experience life.

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Difficult to listen to

This is probably a better book when you read it versus listen to it. Alice Waters should not be narrating this...it’s very difficult to follow her. I took the advice of another reviewer and increased the playback speed; I still couldn’t handle it. I could not finish listening to this.

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A good biographical tale.

I enjoyed hearing Alice Water's life story on how she came to own Chez Panisse.

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Excellent Story

I love Alice Water's sensibility, it is so detailed and enlightening. I am fascinated by her journey and it is well told. Sometimes an author should not read their story. I love what Alice Waters has to say although the early history is a bit long winded. Her voice is not easy to listen to as it is sing/songy with no dramatic performance at powerful moments in her life. All the dramatic moments are told in the same pitch. A great actress would have made this a deeper listening experience.

I was interested in how she evolved into a counterculture chef/restauranteur. She is a good writer. I throughly enjoyed her book and do recommend it.

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Alice Waters is an American Treasure

A life well lived, and I loved that she read it. Sad when it was over, and can't wait to dine at Chez Panisse knowing the backstory of how it came to be.