ONE PAGE AT A TIME If you follow Valerie Bertinelli on Instagram, you’ve seen her casually remove a few fake lashes or struggle to regain her composure after seeing a photo of herself that didn’t, say, spark joy. You know she likes to keep it real.
The veteran actor and cooking show host takes this mission to her best-selling memoir, “Enough Al,” in which she says goodbye to artifice, commits to loving who she is and what she looks like now, and reflects on her relationship with her late ex. husband, legendary musician Eddie Van Halen.
“It had just passed a month or so before I actually got started on the book,” Bertinelli said in a telephone interview briefly interrupted by a cat named Batman. “I was in the midst of grief.”
After an author’s note and Bertinelli’s “(Try) To Do List” (drink more water, eat more fruits and vegetables, go outside), “Enough Enough” begins with a recipe for hot spinach and crab dip. Bertinelli wants you to make it now! (Confession time: My pantry doesn’t usually contain lump crabmeat.) But the urgency of the snack combination becomes apparent when Bertinelli chronicles Van Halen’s memorable encounter with the dip at their son’s house in 2019. Diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2000, Bertinelli writes that he’s been “fighting various forms of the damn disease ever since.”
The day he ‘swallowed’ her spinach and crab concoction was ‘super important,’ she said, ‘because it was the first time in a long time that I had seen Ed really enjoy food. He had his two elbows on the table and he hovered over the pit and just shoveled it into it. I’ve reworked that simple paragraph so many times. I really wanted people to visualize it.”
The anecdote summarizes Bertinelli’s festive approach to food, a central theme in her memoir. She learned to cook before she started acting at 15; then she said, “I went through a long period where food was the enemy. I’m finally back in a place where it’s an expression of love and creativity.” Looking at old photos, Bertinelli wonders, “Why did I think I was fat? I was such a cute little thing.” With ‘Enough already’ she hopes to break this cycle of self-loathing. In ten years, she wants to read what she’s written and think, ‘Ah, I see the growth. Good for her.” Bertinelli added, “I have a better perspective on what this life is, getting outside of myself instead of wallowing in everything I can wallow in.”