October 09, 2011

A Trail of Crumbs by Kim Sunee

For such a melancholy book, I actually enjoyed this memoir quite a bit. While I wasn't expecting something extremely happy, it was interesting to note that Kim Sunee had some real struggles with throwing anything happy in this book. But I guess its a very good book to learn from in that aspect.

Kim Sunee has been unhappy for a good deal of her life. Whether her unhappiness stems from being abandoned as a child and subsequently adopted at three and whisked away from South Korea to Louisiana has to do with it, or her seriousness in which she approaches life from her family, or even the men in her life, is hard to say. At a very young age she travels to Europe where she lives for quite awhile, eventually meeting a man much older than her (and the founder of L'Occitane) she settles into becoming a stepmother, lover, hostess, and many other things all at once. Olivier is kind but somewhat controlling and despite cooking great food and having many friends, Kim is unsatisfied with her life as it is. The whole premise of the book revolves around her relationships and her search for the root of her unhappiness.

Kim, despite being so melancholy, is actually a pretty likable person through this book. She goes through some tough journeys and while I fault her for getting involved with married men at times, she describes food so beautifully that I can't help but like her. I do feel a bit sorry for Olivier. He is painted as very controlling in this book for the majority, but then at times there are glimpses of him just trying to make everyone (especially Kim) happy. Its hard to tell who the real Olivier is when Kim is the narrator.

While I read this book mostly for the food, I do have to admit that Kim leads a pretty interesting life. Not many people have been to so many places or done so many things in their early twenties. Yet, she writes it so easily that it seems attainable by all. Her descriptions of food are masterful too and I could feel myself tasting every bite with her and wanting to be in the kitchen watching everything get prepared. Sadly I had to contend myself with what my little kitchen produces. My only complaint would be that with the book being so down hearted, it would have been nice to have some joy thrown in here and there. It felt like everything kept spiraling downward.

At the end of every chapter are recipes and they all sound absolutely delicious. There are varying degrees of difficulty of course, but they seem like they could mostly be made here in America, with the exception of a few ingredients that would be extremely hard to find unless you were in a very large metro area with specialty markets. Some of the delicious recipes featured are "Figs Roasted in Red Wine with Cream and Honey", "Kimchi Soup", and "Tipsy Melons with Prociutto".

The recipes are reason enough to get a copy of this book, but it really is a good story and perhaps for those adopted, it might be a connection to feelings that they have as well. Memoir and food, this book is a double hitter.

A Trail of Crumbs
Copyright 2008
370 pages

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