This heartwarming memoir by Jessica Fechtor describes her unexpected brain aneurysm at the age of twenty-eight, and how she redefined her life afterward with the help of her husband Eli, her family, her friends, and her love of cooking.
I didn’t expect to be as taken with this story as I was, but Fechtor not only has a delightful sense of humor, but seems like a warm, genuine person you wish you knew.
Her story keeps coming back to food, and she shares twenty-seven recipes that were part of her healing. She writes that kneading, salting, sifting, and stirring have both curative and protective powers, “because you can’t be dead and do these things.” Cooking made her feel alive again.
Food has other powers too, she explains: “Food is more than what we put into our bodies when we are wherever we are. It’s the feel of a place, something language can’t get at, the memory of a place as it forms.” And later she adds, “Food is the keeper of our memories, connecting us with our pasts and with our people.”
She believes that home is a verb, that you set it in motion, and part of how you do this is by sharing meals with friends. I have already made two of her recipes – the buttermilk biscuits and whole wheat chocolate chip cookies – and the only hard part was the “sharing” because they were so good!
If you just want to see the recipes, you could find them on her blog, Sweet Amandine, along with many other recipes. The fact is, however, her story is just as wonderful.
Evaluation: This is a lovely inspirational story, with great recipes included. (She is very into butter.) You will be very glad you made Jessica’s “acquaintance” from reading this book, and you will be rooting for her all the way. Highly recommended!
Published by Avery, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 2015