The Comfort Food Diaries: My Quest for the Perfect Dish to Mend a Broken Heart by Emily Nunn (Amazon Link)
Rating: Very Good
Description: One life-changing night, still reeling from her beloved brother's sudden death a few weeks earlier, Emily Nunn was dumped by her handsome architect fiancé and evicted from the apartment they shared, losing in the same moment all sense of family, home, and financial security. After a few glasses of wine, heartbroken and lost, Emily—an avid cook and professional food writer—poured her heart out on Facebook. The next morning she woke up with a terrible hangover and a feeling she’d made a terrible mistake—only to discover she had more friends than she knew, many of whom invited her to come visit and cook with them while she put her life back together. Thus began the Comfort Food Tour.
Searching for a way forward, Emily travels the country, cooking and staying with relatives and friends, among them renowned chefs Mark Bittman and Ina Garten. She also travels back to revisit scenes from her dysfunctional Southern upbringing, dominated by her dramatic, unpredictable mother and her silent, disengaged father. Her wonderfully idiosyncratic aunts and uncles and cousins come to life in these pages, all part of the rich Southern story in which past and present are indistinguishable, food is a source of connection and identity, and a good story is often preferred to a not-so-pleasant truth. But truth, pleasant or not, is what Emily Nunn craves, and with it comes an acceptance of the losses she has endured, and a sense of hope for the future.
Genre: Nonfiction - Foodie
Why I Picked This Book: I'm a sucker for a good project memoir - especially when it involves food!
My Impression: The book starts just as Emily's life is starting to crumble. She thought she had built the perfect cozy nest but within the first few pages the cracks are very obvious and that was before she brought up her issues with addiction. As readers we see her at what must have been her lowest point - struggling to not just fix a broken heart but to rewrite her entire outlook on life. A random Facebook post kick starts that journey though it takes a little while and a lot of soul searching for her to really get started.
Not that it takes awhile to get into the food portion of the book. Right from the beginning Nunn is describing food so clearly and so beautifully that that all I want to do is grab a fork and dive in to Ezra Pound Cake, or pizza with Toni's Tomato Sauce. Her descriptions make things that I don't even like sound appealing - I've never once craved a Country Ham biscuit but I'm beginning to reconsider that after several of her mentions!
Once her Comfort Food Tour really got going the food descriptions really increased (seriously - do not read this book hungry!) and the book got a bit happier though no less introspective. I was really intrigued by the question of just what is comfort food. It's a term we hear bandied about quite a bit but everyone's interpretation is so personal that it takes a little soul searching to really figure out your answer. I've been thinking about it since I started the books and am still not quite sure I've really defined mine!
This is a book about self-discovery, healing, and most of all food. Nunn's writing is incredibly honest but not overly dramatic and within the first few pages she felt like a friend. Just be careful not to read while hungry or you might go dashing out in search of a country ham biscuit!
Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely! I really enjoyed her writing style and this book.
Would I Recommend this Book? I would! If you like project type books or enjoyed the book Stir by Jessica Fechtor I think you'd enjoy this one.