Now I know I told you all a few weeks ago about my Christmas Reading List, but can you believe I got roughly ONE DOZEN new books ?!
And no, I am not exaggerating. My wish list typically contains a multitude of books, and now with the power of Amazon and a big thank you to my lovely family, I have oodles of awesome new reads to keep me entertained for a few
Today, I am sharing my thoughts on Eat, Memory: A Collection of Essays from the NY Times.
Beginning this small anthology while aboard a flight to visit my parents, I must admit I could not put it down. Having devoured it in less than a few days, I think there were perhaps two stories at the most that I found less than spectacular. Other than those, this collection of mini memoirs has something for everyone.
The essays are broken down into sections concerning Discoveries, Illusions, Struggles, Loss, and Coming Home, and tones range from dry, self-deprecating humor and sarcasm to touching romance and tear-jerking grief. I don’t believe I’ve ever went through such a variety of emotions in so short a time, and loved it as much as I did.
I can’t possibly begin to break down every story for you, (nor would I if I could because it would ruin the surprises) but I will mention a few stories that really stole the show.
The first, and I have to say my most favorite, was Colson Whitehead’s “I Scream”. It’s nearly impossible to imagine harboring such a huge distaste for ice cream, even dessert in general; but I feel for Colson since, having worked at a Rita’s Ice for nearly a year in high school, I almost fell down his slippery slope to dessert hatred.
“…and occasionally I’d make a wretched feast of one, but most of the time I ate ice cream. Chocolate in a plastic cup with rainbow sprinkles,chocolate shakes, chocolate ice cream sodas…never suspecting that I was conditioning myself to hate that which I so ardently desired…”
Though many of the stories resonated with me, what with food and memory being constantly interwoven in my life, there comes a story or two that stand out as inspirational. I often suffer from what I would endearingly call “quarter life crises”, where I swiftly spiral into a melodramatic depression about my writing. “My writing is so derivative”, “I have nothing new to contribute so why bother”, “What am I doing with my life blah blah blah”.
Now normally, I have an extremely patient boyfriend, not to mention mother and girlfriends, who slowly pull me out of my tiny black emo cloud, but for those of us who need to read it to believe it, might I suggest “The Sauce and the Fury” or “Turning Japanese” in Eat, Memory.
“I am broke and aimless, I am racked by doubt and worry, I crave a food that’s three thousand miles away and I’ve never experienced such bliss in my life.”
These great writers, whom I constantly aspire to become one day, freaked out about rent just like I do; about what they were doing with their lives, if any of it meant anything at all. But now I am reading their works, which means they did not stay in that perpetual little black cloud.
“Me, who could pluck, flame, empty and cut up a chicken in twelve minutes flat…Me, the supreme mistress of mayonnaise, hollandaise, cassoulets, choucrouts…” – Julia Child
As I enter my final semester of college (eek!) I often wonder how on earth I will take on real life. But then I read these stories, and realize it’s not just me who has to survive – it’s everyone. Each of us struggles in her own way, paving our paths, smoothing out bumps in the road as we hit them. We still hit them, but how we define ourselves should be by how we handle those roadbumps, instead of attempting to avoid them altogether.
And so, I finished my first book of 2013, with a light heart, and an open mind for what my future may bring. Eat, Memory is an outstanding collection of essays that showcases how food gets us through both the best (and worst) of times.
We remember loved ones, come and gone, through the meals they made or shared with us. We never forget those care packages, full of Oreos or Cheez its, sent lovingly from miles and miles away to our dorms in college, or the first meal prepared for when we come to visit. Food and memory will forever be one in my life, and for this perhaps I am biased, but I give Eat, Memory a resounding 10 out of 10.
All Photos And Writing Copyright © 2013 Jessica Gonzalez | On Sugar Mountain