“Recovering” Buddhist priest and “vegetable whisperer” Deborah Madison reveals the heart and thoughts of the chef in the back of an iconic San Francisco restaurant and severa vegetarian cookbooks in her honest, beguiling memoir, An Onion in My Pocket. The identify is derived from an opening anecdote: After spending the day making pizza along with her ex, Madison attended a Spanish class and, looking her pockets for pen and paper, pulled out an onion leftover from pizza-making and plunked it on her desk. “People began to laugh. To me, it was absolutely normal,” she writes.
Madison relays her lifestyles in a swingy style, moving from her adolescence in Davis, California, to her university days, to her post-college migration to the San Francisco Zen Center amid that city’s counterculture heyday. She lived within the Zen network for 20 years and started her culinary course as their head cook. Later, she did a stint at Alice Waters’ famed Chez Panisse and subsequently helped found (then helm) the acclaimed vegetarian eating place Greens. An Onion in My Pocket gives a layered, intimate observe Zen life, the making of a soulful, clever chef and the genesis and increase of a writer. It’s also an ode to nourishment, sustenance and gratitude for the earth’s bounty, vegetal and otherwise.