Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Books for Cooks Review: The Kitchen Daughter

For several months now, I have been reading what I'll call "books for cooks". These aren't cookbooks, although they often include a handful of recipes. The key feature is that cooking must be an integral part of the story. 

The Kitchen Daughter

I just finished one such book called The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry.  The book begins when the main character of the book, Ginny, has just lost both her elderly parents. Ginny has Asperger's Syndrome and is uncomfortable with social interactions. As she learns to move on with her life she turns to her love of cooking to help her cope. Ginny discovers she can summon ghosts to her kitchen when she cooks from one of their hand-written recipes.

The book is a surprisingly quick read and yet is fulfilling on many levels.  I love a book that is fun to read and educational at the same time. This book taught me about Asperger's Syndrome.  One line I particularly loved is when Ginny tells her sister "I am socially awkward not retarded." Ginny is capable of living on her own, but she has some uncomfortable moments in getting there. Meanwhile, she copes by thinking of flavors and textures of food. 

With a kitchen lined with cookbooks, I can relate to Ginny. Cooking does put me in a some type of zone and thinking about food distracts me from the stresses of life. I would love to be in the kitchen with her while she's making Ribollita, an Italian bean and bread soup, or savoring Spicy hot chocolate spiced with Ancho chili for the first time.  I am not particularly inclined to follow any of the recipes in the book, but I do like that they are included. For some reason, reading the recipe helps me put myself in the story.

If you love to read and you love cooking, I highly recommend this book.  The author, Jael McHenry, also writes the Simmer blog at simmerblog.typepad.com.

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