A tale of recovery from a broken heart via comfort foods found across the United States.
Within a short period of time, freelance food writer Nunn, who worked for nearly a decade at the New Yorker, lost her brother to suicide and broke up with her fiance and was forced to leave the beautiful apartment they shared. She turned to alcohol to cope, dropping further and further into the gin bottle until she reached out for help. A stint in the hospital and another at the Betty Ford Center helped her realize she was not alone; family and friends were there to assist in any way that they could, which included invitations to visit. Nunn spent the next several months traveling across the country, cooking and collecting recipes for favorite foods, the ones that sprang to mind whenever there was a death, an accident, or a broken heart in need of comfort. During her journey, she learned that everyone has a different food they turn to when they need a form of sustenance beyond filling an empty stomach. It might be a mother’s lime-green gelatin salad from childhood, a country ham biscuit (one of the author’s “very favorite foods”—“funky, potent, leathery, salty ham that has been placed on a biscuit whose edges crumble from crisped fat and whose center is sweet in comparison”), or a silky custard made in a double boiler. Crisscrossing the country, Nunn repaired her fragmented heart as she listened to humorous and moving stories about her relatives and friends. The author includes a few dozen recipes for the comfort foods she describes, resulting in a sort of minicookbook inside a candid memoir of despair and triumph over depression.
Nourishing, truthful reflections on family, friends, and love all wrapped up in the idea of food as sustenance for both the body and the soul.