26 Books to Read in 2015: #18

If I’m going to keep on top of this challenge I’ve really gotta up  my game here.  I’ll try an approach that worked for me in middle school: I’ll do all the easy stuff first and then save the stuff I find more challenging–like poetry–until later on.

Well….”worked” in that I was annoyed and sleepy and sometimes close to tears by the time midnight rolled around and I was still plugging away at my crumpled and tear-stained geometry homework, but everything still got done.

My easy challenge pick was # 18: A book with a blue cover.

Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness  by Sasha Martin fits the bill!

Life from scratch

I enjoy cooking memoirs.  Mostly because I’m obsessed with food and I think cooking and baking are two of the most fun things ever.  Most of my time each week is taken up with carefully planning dinner menus, strategizing for left-overs, and painstakingly deciding on side dishes.  I read (and collect) wire-bound small-town church-supper cookbooks.  I spend weeks before big holidays outlining my game plan.  I get excited about pickling things and making jam.  I feel a sense of accomplishment and pride when, in an afternoon, I have a loaf of bread cooling on the counter, a braise in the oven, and the cookie jar is full.

And the cookbooks.  I’ve read Marjorie Mosser’s Good Maine Food and Eleanor Early’s New England Cookbook several times each–the latter is falling apart from use.  When it comes to learning about what the world eats and getting a voyeuristic thrill from peeping into other peoples’ kitchens,  Hungry Planet is one of my all-time favorites, and one to have on my personal bookshelf one day.  I love to read about how others interact with food, how they cook, their challenges and misadventures, and their accomplishments in the kitchen.

So I’ll admit that, personally, I was a little disappointed by how little time was afforded to The Global Table Adventure in this memoir.  I was expecting more of a Julie and Julia vibe, all based around the project.  (As an aside, I admit that I enjoy the structure and categorizing and planning and accomplishment that comes with a project, so much so that I like to experience them vicariously in food writing memoirs,)

I came in wanting to hear about the challenges of obtaining specialty ingredients for a cooking project. I wanted to know how different cultures around the world treat the potato.  I loved her style and the way she told her story, and I really liked her insights into the power of cooking and sharing food–I was just left wishing there was more of the practical.  Those who enjoy personal journeys of family and self, getting over grief and loss, will probably not have the same issue.  And, granted, Martin takes care to explain her choice in her introduction and I totally understand why she decided to tell her story the way she did.  It’s a lovely memoir and Martin discusses food very well.

I am pleased to report that Global Table Adventure is an AMAZING website.  If you want more of the global cooking, research, and the process, go there.  It’s fantastic content-wise, well-designed, and includes some great recipes.



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