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A Spoonful of Promises: Stories & Recipes from a Well-Tempered Table

2012, Lyons Press
By T. Susan Chang

A collection of 30-some essays about food with recipes interspersed, this book explores culinary memory and what food means in terms of family, friends and the inner self.

Chang, a regular NPR contributor, writes in a tender way about the foods she loves and why. She lost her mother at a young age, and the section in the book about she and her father heating up microwave dinners is heartbreaking.

But it’s food that helps Chang through the grieving process and food that sparks many of the rich friendships in her life. One reminiscence of a quirky-yet-loveable college roommate’s strange tastes in food will ring true to anyone who has shared a residence with a virtual stranger.

Chang’s childhood memories make for some especially poignant parts of the book such as the story of the grandmother that she doesn’t share a language with, but can understand perfectly through the crafting of wonton soup.

Present day, Chang is a parent trying to introduce her love of food to the next generation, and is delighted when a pre-school teacher asks her son what “charred pie” is. (It’s actually Swiss chard).

It’s a walk down memory lane for sure, with some good recipes and a few good laughs, too.

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