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'My First Popsicle' offers a glimpse into celebrity feelings about food

What is your most vivid or poignant memory involving food? I bet you have at least one. Everyone does.

Mine include my Cuban father’s black beans and rice, which continues to be one of my favorite meals. I also remember my first bites of sushi and of medium-rare steak, and my first raw oyster — all encouraged by my older brother Dave, and all deliciously life-altering.

Food is a treasure trove of sensory experience, and a new essay collection curated by actor Zosia Mamet explores the topic in all its gastronomical wonder. “My First Popsicle: An Anthology of Food and Feelings” features stories — and some recipes — from a wide array of writers, actors and other celebrities.

Director Silas Howard writes about a cafe he ran with friends in San Francisco in his 20s, and a happy kitchen accident that became one of its most-requested recipes. Comedian Michelle Buteau talks about her obsession with pasta. Actor Rosie Perez recounts her aunt’s pollo guisado, a Puerto Rican chicken stew that became her ultimate comfort food. Andrew Rannells waxes nostalgic about Jell-O cake. And Stephanie Danler, a former restaurant worker and author of “Sweetbitter,” shares a recipe for a shallot vinaigrette that helped her start over.

The book is a potluck of stories that speaks to the indelible connection between food and memory. Like many anthologies, some of the entries are decidedly stronger than others. Many are charming and funny, but as Mamet notes with trigger warnings at the beginning, some stray into the darker territory of eating disorders. Overall, it’s a varied and worthwhile collection, and it’s fun to get a glimpse into famous people’s childhoods and everyday lives. The audio is especially enjoyable, as many of the writers narrate their own work.

Suzanne Perez is a longtime journalist covering education and general news for KMUW and the Kansas News Service. Suzanne reviews new books for KMUW and is the co-host with Beth Golay of the Books & Whatnot podcast. Follow her on Twitter @SuzPerezICT.