I first heard about Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness by Sasha Martin from a Weekend Cooking post, so it’s only fitting to keep passing the word along about this satisfying memoir this way.
I don’t read many food blogs, so before I started reading I wasn’t aware of Sasha Martin’s blog, Global Table Adventure, where she records her experience of trying recipes from around the world. The author grew up in Jamaica Plain, a Boston neighborhood, so there was a Massachusetts connection there, but I can’t resist the lure of a foodie memoir, anyway.
In Life from Scratch, Sasha Martin writes about growing up with and mostly without her mother, who – present or absent – dominates the book with her larger-than-life personality. Mom eventually gives up custody of all five of her children, and seems to be a cross between a happy-go-lucky, irrepressible, eccentric, free-spirited single mother and an unlucky, unhappy depressive burdened by the weight of family responsibilities.
When the author starts her own family and begins her food blog documenting her once-a-week meal inspired by other cuisines starting with Afghanistan and on through 195 countries to Zimbabwe, her unadventurous-eater husband and their young daughter are dubious, at first, but as she continues her project through some failures (including an episode of food poisoning) but many successes, they get carried along by her enthusiasm.
Life from Scratch starts off fairly dark; the author survived a rough beginning. Despite having a wealth of experiences such as living in other countries as a teenager, she had a lot of sadness in her young life. She opens the book with the story of finding out in fourth grade why she had no fingerprints on some of her fingers. They had melted off in a kitchen accident at age one when she reached into an open broiler while her mother had her back turned. This incident, though her mother was cleared of any charges, got them entered into “the system” and they never fully bounced back from that.
Recommended for anyone who likes a good foodie memoir with recipes, or for readers who liked The Glass Castle and are looking for other memoirs about growing up in a dysfunctional or unusual family.
Life from Scratch
National Geographic Society
March 3, 2015
Disclosure: I won my copy of Life from Scratch in a giveaway from Books on the Table in March (Thank you, Ann, and thank you, National Geographic!)