This was a gem of a book. And it’s getting lot’s of attention. I don’t get asked to write book reviews very often but when this one was offered to me I jumped at the chance mostly because it is the kind of book that I would have picked up on my own. I read cookbooks for fun. I love to sit on my front porch in the summertime and pour through old favorites. In the wintertime I sit on my couch with a lot of those same cookbooks. Sometimes I’ll pick up a fresh stack of cookbooks from the library, and armed with a quilt, I’ll look for new recipes among them to try for the next night’s dinner.
I also like to read memoirs. And this one is special. Life from Scratch is a memoir about food, family, and forgiveness. Sasha Martin tells the story of her childhood with memories of a larger than life mother and her mother’s ability to make her earlier childhood an educational adventure. Another reviewer compared it to The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls and I have to say it reminded me a bit of that book too. It’s extremely well written, poignant, and hopeful.
Here is the summary of the book I was given when I was first asked if I would like to read and review it.
Over the course of 195 weeks, food writer and blogger Sasha Martin set out to cook—and eat—a meal from every country in the world. As cooking unlocked the memories of her rough-and-tumble childhood and the loss and heartbreak that came with it, Martin became more determined than ever to find peace and elevate her life through the prism of food and world cultures. From the tiny, makeshift kitchen of her eccentric, creative mother to a string of foster homes to the house from which she launches her own cooking adventure, Martin’s heartfelt, brutally honest memoir reveals the power of cooking to bond, to empower, and to heal—and celebrates the simple truth that happiness is created from within.
I love this kind of format for a book. It’s a memoir that tells the story of Sasha’s life and includes the food that was part of those events that shaped her and then wraps up each chapter with a recipe from those events. It reminded me of another favorite food memoir I read a few years ago called A Homemade Life by Molly Wisenberg. Although the stories were very different, they were the written in the same format of telling the story of a family and wrapping each chapter up with a recipe. I’ve tried several of the recipes from Molly’s book and can’t wait to get started trying some of the recipes in Sasha’s Life from Scratch.
Reading this memoir also introduced me to Sasha’s blog called Global Table Adventure where she shows her readers how to bring the world to your kitchen. The idea behind her blog was to take 195 recipes from 195 countries and prepare and enjoy them with her family. It was a way to see the world without leaving home. Not all of us can travel the world…trips like that are usually once in a lifetime but this is an amazing way to experience foreign lands and the people that live there. It’s brilliant! And it makes for wonderful reading.
And look at this amazing cake that she is featuring on her blog. Dark Chocolate Guinness Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream!! That looks so delicious and if you like the idea of the Bailey’s Buttercream but maybe not the Guinness Stout, she also has a recipe for O’Hara’s Irish Red Velvet Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream. Click on either link and you’ll be taken to her blog with the amazing recipes. Perfect for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. I’ll be making this for St. Pat’s day myself. A bottle of Guinness is on my shopping list…I’ve got all the other ingredients.
Take a trip around the world or make something special based on where your ancestors are from. I plan to dig in to some Czech Republic recipes right after I explore the Irish recipes for St. Pat’s Day. How about you? Where are your people from? And wouldn’t it be fun to make and eat something that you great great Grandmother used to make?