Read this book if: you have ever been saved from a grey day by food
In one sentence: A charming if not occasionally clumsy retrospective by a lesbian alcoholic foodie, structured around her encounters with other female food enthusiasts – Cunningham, Hazan, Reichl, Lewis, Waters, Ray, Chase, and her Mom.
In more sentences: Severson has had a twisty life journey, and in this autobiography, she describes how eight woman have served as her developmental guideposts. The portraits of the women are honest – Hazan was a bit cranky, Lewis was dying, and Waters is really wispy but still gets the job done. Severson’s self-depiction is equally frank – she starts out as a confused and insecure alcoholic trying painfully hard to do her best, and ends up an award-winning journalist in a healthy relationship.
One does at times get a sense that she is forcing meaning into encounters where none might have actually existed. Were her epiphanies actually caused by these eight women, or is it more that these encounters serve as soulful illustrations of the larger point? I think Kim would have found fulfillment even if Ruth Reichl would have cancelled their lunch date. The writing isn’t elegant; it’s more Birkenstock than Blahnik. But by travelling a mile in Severson’s clunky shoes, you see how it is more the people in your life who cook, rather than the meals themselves, that really matter.