Monday, May 18, 2009

Food for Comfort

Kim Sunee has written a memoir of her exciting, sad and complicated life. She tells the story of being abandoned in a Korean marketplace when she was about three years old. She was too young to remember very much, but old enough to have haunting memories. A young American couple stationed in Korea adopted her and brought her home to New Orleans. They later adopted another Korean girl. Kim and her sister grew up in a city (as Kim remembers) with no other Asian children. Kim tells of a childhood of feeling displaced. But the real story began when Kim left New Orleans for college in Florida. From Florida Kim followed a Swedish boyfriend to live in Sweden where she began a life of searching for a feeling of self, and belonging.

“Trail of Crumbs” is a sad story of a young woman who is searching for a past and love. But the most amazing and surprising part of the book is Kim Sunee’s incredible talent as a cook. At the end of many chapters are recipes and throughout the book Kim describes in mouth watering detail the amazing meals she prepared and cooked.

When her relationship with her Swedish boyfriend ended Kim met Olivier Baussen, the French millionaire who founded “L’Occitane” and “Oliviers & Co”, two worldwide companies visible in most every city in the world. The life Kim led in her twenties is one that was defined by world travel, beautiful homes, beautiful clothes and entertaining and cooking for large gatherings at the drop of a hat. The details of the feasts she prepared and the beautiful surroundings in Provence, are a pleasure to read. But Kim Sunee could only be really happy when she was cooking. She was plagued with a "constant need for departure".

What is difficult to read is the story of a young woman who floated through life taking what she could but never knowing what she wanted. She often comes across as an unreliable narrator as she relates how everyone in her life somehow fell short, never giving her what she needed. She seemed to have a talent for hurting the people who have loved and helped her the most. She consistently related the praise of her talents that others lavished on her. But all the amazing things that happened to her, as she traveled the world, all happened before she was thirty. Her story is one that resounds with the comfort one finds in food and cooking. Her recipes that relate to specific places in the book and her descriptions of the food presentations are delightful. This is definitely an interesting, entertaining memoir written by a young woman who has an intriguing story to tell.

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