Food and cooking are the best remedies for getting us through hard times. Grad student and foodie , Jessica Fechtor, relied on them for getting through the horrendous hell of suffering an aneurysm, the surgery to correct it and the scary recovery period afterwards. It was not modern medicines that healed her but the primal need to cook and bake.
Her book Stir:My Broken Brain And The Meals That Brought Me Home (Plume Publishers) is a truly inspirational book. Ms. Fechtor is a writer , first and foremost and she neatly explains what had happened to her as succinctly as she would a recipe. This was a girl who had it all, including a love of all things relating to the kitchen.Then it hit, blood pooling in one area of her brain. It gets graphic, yes, but this is about hospital and operations as much as it is about batters and ovens. All in all she passes through this ordeal with humor and courage..It doesn't end though with her collapse and procedure to"fix" what had happened. More problems ensue when she returns to Cambridge. A residual infection,pseudomonas, crops up, despite the wild stew of antibiotics she's been on. More surgery, followed by a slow rebuilding of her former life. She loses her sense of smell, sheer horror for any home chef or baker.After all how can anyone cook without the nose to signal that the sauce is done or the roast is burning?It does come back - not with the smell of food but with fresh paint in her apartment building's lobby.
This book is also about food. There are all sorts of recipes from all sorts of sources. There are homey family ones such as her grandmother, Louise's apple pie and her stepmother's Amy's potato salad.There are oatmeal cookies dedicated to her beloved Eli who never left her side along with a ziti recipe that his family made. Ms. Fechtor is also the creator of the famed and popular food blog Sweet Amandine, named after her favorite cake. There are several recipes of her own creation Crispy Rice and Eggs and a Lemony Pasta With Morel Mushrooms and pasts (this last a nod to Alice Waters and Chez Panisse). Cooking is also comforting and comfort food. It's seen in Ms. Fechtor's recipe for Cherry Clafoutis, made when she, her now husband Eli, and their friend spent a respite in Washington State, known for its' juicy red cherries where they bought a sack of them.It's also evident in her recipe for a non traditional latke recipe that is zinged up with sweet potatoes and curry. Readers will enjoy and definitely make her homemade tomato soup accompanied with a homemade brown soda bread, the perfect comfort food cure for any dilemma,
Stir:My Broken Brain And The Meals That Brought Me Home is about the healing power of cooking and baking. It is the medicine Jessica Fechtor needed to survive a nightmare aneurysm and the hell that followed. Buy this book , read it for not just her story but for the food that fed her, both literally and figuratively