A restless young woman’s poignant search for identity, accompanied by dozens of recipes.
The founding food editor of Cottage Living magazine, Sunée was abandoned in a South Korean market at age three, adopted by a young American couple and raised in New Orleans. Uncertain of her exact age and ethnicity, she describes herself as a fish swimming upstream, someone who has been lost her whole life. She moved to Europe in her early 20s and met a wealthy French businessman, Olivier, who took over her life. He was older, not quite divorced and—though Sunée doesn’t use the words—clearly a control freak. As Olivier’s mistress, she wanted for nothing—except independence and her own identity. He planned all the details of their lives, arranged their travels and chose their friends. She tried to mother his young daughter and prepared sumptuous meals for his frequent guests. Almost every chapter ends with at least one and sometimes three or four recipes: crab, crawfish and po-boy sandwiches she learned to make from her New Orleans grandfather; directions for kimchi, a Korean salad; and many French dishes, including gratin de salsify, crème caramel and figs roasted in red wine with cream and honey. (Recipes may or may not be linked to the chapter that precedes them.) Sunée eventually left Olivier, lived alone and supported herself in Paris. She made her own friends and had an unhappy love affair, again with a married man. The mouthwatering recipes taper off at this point in her memoir, but there is still much about food and drink. The author closely observes and skillfully records all the nuances of texture, color, aroma and taste. From the crumbs in the fist of an abandoned three-year-old to bowls of richly sauced pasta, her text chronicles the entwining of food with security and love. At the end, Sunée is still restless, still seeking, still hungry.
Vivid writing—and an inspiration to head to the kitchen.