I sometimes find it hard to come across books that convey my love for cooking as well as reading. Everyone around me knows how much I love Kinfolk magazine and its cookbook, but other than that I find it difficult to find some sort of book that feels like reading a blog in which there are recipes.
While in Portland about two weeks ago, Jacob and I stopped at Powell’s bookstore. First, if you are into books, this is THE place to go. Second, plan half a day at least to navigate through it. It’s incredible. Powell’s claims to be the largest independent used and new bookstore in the world, and when visiting their store in the Pearl district, you certainly can believe it. The store takes an entire street block and has many levels, coffee shops, tools and gadgets on top of the thousands of books. Powell’s also owns 4 other stores in Portland metropolitan area.
I was extremely happy to find, in the cooking section, rows called Food Writing. “Go do your own thing, I will be here for a while,” I told Jacob. He happily disappeared in the photography section for the next hour.
There, on those rustic wooden shelves laid books written for people like me; be it memoirs, theses on how bad salt and/or sugar and/or gluten may be for you (argh!), or even books dedicated to Nutella. There were hundreds of stories for the hungry home or professional cook.
Within the hundreds of books in front of me, I picked up Bon Appétempt – A Coming-of-Age Story, by Amelia Morris. I loved the summary right away and felt I could probably learn something from these pages. I also loved the fact that there were recipes in the book – an idea I actually had when I started my latest manuscript (that is taking me forever to shape up) but abandoned half way because, I wondered, who other than me wanted recipes in their books? Bon Appétempt seemed like the right book for me, at the right time in my life.
I started reading the book the evening we left Portland for our campsite on the Oregon coast. After the first couple chapters, I wasn’t sure anymore what the book was about. Wasn’t it suppose to be a food blogging type of book that would inspire me to be better in the kitchen and to be more disciplined in my writing?
FYI – Jacob and I drove from the Oregon coast back to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada the past couple of weeks, taking the time to stop wherever we wanted on the way. But that is another story for another post.
I surprised myself picking it up while Jacob would be driving, reading a couple of chapters here and there at night, while wondering why I felt so close to this book. We probably always have expectations when opening a book, even when we try not too. However, this time around my expectations backfired on me in the most positive way. I realized that Amelia’s book was actually a memoir with recipes in it – not at all the blog-type book I was anticipating. More than that, it features an incredibly strong, stubborn young woman who is determined to move forward in life even when her attempts are not leading to success (not immediately anyways). Through her relationship with cooking, Amelia takes us with her on her journey from the east coast to Los Angeles where she and Matt (I hope we can call each other by our first name here) fight tooth-and-nail to reach their goals and realize their own dreams. And with them, we are reminded that the important thing is to take note of the road to success, its up and downs and to learn as much as possible from the bad times as we do from the good times.
I got attached to Amelia, even if I don’t know her at all. I ended up respecting her for trying so hard, for starting new projects over and over again, for believing in herself and in the ones around her. I found myself laughing with her, anticipating what her orange polenta cake will look like, hoping for good news from Matt’s agent, and sympathizing for her losses.
As a food blogger (or whatever it is I do on this blog), I recognized myself many times and in many ways in that book. As a woman, I got inspired by Amelia’s path and by her determination to build her life the way she dreamed about.
As I find myself craving for more balance in my life most days, it felt good to be reminded that we all thrive for that goal, and that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed, and to fail, and to try again, and most importantly, to forgive and be kind to ourselves. Balance will come around when you are ready.
The recipes in that book are like the cherry on a sundae.
Now I need to go cook lemon pasta – with cream and extra cheese.
To know more about Amelia and her book, you can visit her website HERE. Cheers!