I have an unfair bias against memoirs. This may stem from the fact that many memoirs are written by people who are complete strangers, and I find myself wondering why their life should be of interest to me. With this book, at least, that unfair stereotype was certainly proved wrong!
Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life is a great example why someone else’s life may be incredibly interesting, simply because Molly’s life has been defined by food. And as she explains each chapter of her life for us, she provides recipes so we can experience the integral food too, if we choose.
It’s so much fun to see a life through the eyes of delicious foods. Molly shows that food is a communal part of our lives, helping to form lasting memories and lasting relationships. Food really can tell the stories of our lives, as Molly’s memoir/cookbook attests.
As she writes of her childhood, for example, she shares her dad’s excellent French toast. As she writes of her first trip to Paris, she writes of the bread and chocolate that defined her days. As she writes of the holidays, she shares favorite holiday treats. And then, of course, there are her Paris recipes, and her best friends’ recipes, and her vegetarian boyfriend’s salad recipes. And Molly could just keep going, I’m sure.
But A Homemade Life is not just about the food. Molly’s memoir is excellently written, easily readable, and absolutely delightful. I know “delightful” is a cliché, but this book seriously fits the word without being cliché. It is real, and yet amusing and engaging all at the same time.
As Molly writes about her dad’s death, for example, I was in tears myself, thinking about the impact he had had on her life. His was an influence not to be forgotten. As Molly moved on with her life, she realized that. She subsequently learned to follow her dreams, even when they took the form of a food blog (Orangette). In fact, the only thing missing from this book are the gorgeous photographs Molly normally includes along with her blog posts on Orangette.
Many of the recipes Molly shares are a bit too “fancy” for my tastes. I’m primarily a family cook, and I don’t cook with specialty foods simply for cost reasons. “French style” cooking is not really my thing. But I do like simple food, and some of the recipes appear simple; at least a dozen and a half have entered my personal recipe file for future experimentation.
Molly’s story comes full circle, with the one center point in every part of her life being food. In the end, I love the concept that foods, and not only the events, make up a life.
I would never think of delicious food as the center point of my childhood memories, and that’s okay. But it is encouraging to me that food can be such a staple in a life, and I look forward to making delicious food a memorable part of my family’s life going forward.
In the end, I can say I liked reading Molly’s story so much I intend to reread it someday. And cook her recipes.
What food memories do you recall from various stages of your life? As a child, I recall my dad’s pancakes on Saturday mornings. As an adult, I recall the risotto my husband made for me for one of our first dates.
A Homemade Life was a memoir read for The Spice of Life Challenge.
If you have reviewed A Homemade Life on your blog, leave a link in the comments and I’ll add it here.