Food & Memoirs: A Delicious Combination


Non-fiction books are of immense interest to me, but the sub-genre that probably gives me the most pleasure (and sometimes frustration) is the memoir. The best memoirists shed light on the personal as well as the universal aspects that tie us all together. And when food (sometimes unexpectedly) is the vehicle for self-discovery and transformation, the well-written memoir can become the most delectable of reads. So if you're in the mood for a memoir with a culinary bent, here are two recently published books that might just satiate your literary appetite.

HOW TO COOK A DRAGON: Living, Loving, and Eating in China (Seal Press) by Linda Furiya
At the start of the book, Linda Furiya decamps for China to be with her expat boyfriend but quickly finds herself alienated from everyone around her. Amidst the upheaval of a failing relationship and the seemingly futile search for personal happiness and self-fulfillment, the author does find love, and herself, in the most unexpected ways. As the subtitle states, there is a lot of eating. Furiya's decision to include both Chinese and Japanese recipes such as Ochazuke, Simple Japanese-Style Tofu, and Lamb Kebabs highlights some of the identity issues, as well as the gradual process of self-acceptance she is forced to address while abroad. Besides sharing food and commiserating over her expat situation with friends, Furiya and her housekeeper broker a peace through the sharing of fruit. For all the heartbreak Furiya undergoes, the memoir provides a unique look at one Asian-American's experiences in China .

COOKING AND SCREAMING: Finding My Own Recipe for Recovery (Simon Spotlight Entertainment) by Adrienne Kane
The unbelievable happened to college senior, Adrienne Kane, two weeks before graduation: She suffered a stroke. During a period of her life that should have been carefree and full of optimism and endless possibilities, Kane is forced to reconsider her life's dream of being an English teacher. Through the healing process, she comes to realize that her true passion is connecting with people through food. Food allows her to be creative and productive, and food gives her a place in the world. Get a taste of Kane's cooking with some of her own recipes, including Polenta Squares with Onion Confit and Kalamata Olives, Butternut Squash and Green Apple Soup, and Haute Egg Sandwich. And then read up on Kane's latest musings on her blog, www.nosheteria.com.

By Esther Sung

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