When professional food writer Emily Nunn’s life fell apart when her brother committed suicide, her relationship crumbled and she found herself suddenly homeless, and with her drinking increasing again she decided to check herself in to rehab. It was then Emily was able to begin to see how she became the person she was and how she could change and become a person she could love.
As Emily began to look back on her life, especially her childhood which was turbulent to say the least with two parents who could barely take care of themselves, and did not want to take care of the many children they had. Nothing was ever talked about, like her father moving out and another man moving in, or the narcissistic personality her mother had or her father’s drinking or her brother being gay. It was all left for them all just to speculate.
She also began to understand her rocky relationships with her siblings and how they too had been impacted by the lack of care their parents showed. Many had not spoken to each other for years, while others fled to another country just to get away. She too would learn that their treatment of her would trigger her low self-esteem issues and she would always blame herself for the arguments, most of the time not understanding what she had done to provoke the anger.
When asked what comforted her in times of stress, Emily realized it was food. It was the actual cooking, creating and the enjoyment of eating. It was especially satisfying to cook with others, be it friends or family.
So she goes on a quest to find not only herself, but to also reconnect with family she has not seen in years as well as friends, some of whom the relationship had not ended well, and spend time with them, learn from them and cook with them. Thus begins Emily’s journey of healing herself. With this comes a new understanding of what her life was like but what her life could be like when you let go all of the annoyance and hostility she had held in for so many years and she begins to find an inner peace as her travels continue. She also learns the word “family” means many things and you sometimes have to accept some relationships are just not meant to be.
Throughout her memoir while she gives us glimpses of her unusual past, she also tells stories of recipes and how they came about and the impact they had on her life and the memories they invoke. Some mouthwatering recipes, and yes they are in the book for the reader to enjoy if they choose were her Aunt Mariah’s Pot Roast, Father Tray’s Bran Muffins and Bea’s Magic Salad Dressing.
As this unexpected journey came it its conclusion, Emily learned many lessons about living. But her curiosity about food literally saved her life.