One woman cooks and cries her way through seasons of disenchantment and discovery.
Fraught with family drama and dinner tables, New Mexico Magazine managing editor Walsh's (co-editor: Dear John, I Love Jane: Women Write About Leaving Men for Women, 2010, etc.) story begins before conception and leaves few moments of her life thereafter unturned. “This story,” she writes, “is not only the story of my lifelong love affair with food, but a story of identity: how I found out what (and who) I was truly made of historically; what my own truth was, one meal at a time.” Walsh opens with a brief climb up the family tree, focusing especially on her family's matriarchs and their bruised relationships with men, prefiguring the author’s own story. We see Walsh as a child, forced by her father to clear her plate of her own vomit; as a high school graduate, nearly choked to death by her stepfather; as a young adult, experimenting with drugs and alcohol and dating losers. The book’s brightest points serve as testaments to personal reinvention and healing. The rapid hot-and-cold changes in her undeniably tumultuous life will keep pages turning, and Walsh wins points for resisting the frostinglike sweetness of many contemporary food memoirs, but the thick, bitter glaze of self-pity will not suit everyone's tastes. Passionate depictions of food and cooking, seemingly offered as a main course, fail to tempt, although several of the book's small moments of levity are catalyzed by culinary matters. When Walsh writes with pride and joy of the day she brought her shiny, new KitchenAid home and recalls tenderly the comfort found in a simple chicken fricassee, those moments shimmer like oil in a hot pan.
A memoir of broken relationships, family recipes and hard-earned love that reads at times like a menu of personal grievances and their suggested food pairings.