Hunger Games: Three Memoirs Where Food Takes Center Stage

A Memoir of Food and Longing
By Christine S. O’Brien
260 pp. St. Martin’s. $28.99.


O’Brien’s father is Edgar Scherick, a celebrated producer of tv and movie. Her mom, Carol, slips from one id to a different, however all the time ambitiously: The Missouri farm lady morphs right into a Miss America pageant finalist, the upper-class New York spouse rebels and turns into a pure meals devotee. O’Brien and her brothers dwell within the Dakota and trick-or-treat alongside the constructing’s forbidding hallways, getting Tootsie Pops from Lauren Bacall. This is one model of a 20th-century fairy story.

The fable has a darkish aspect. O’Brien’s father is given to terrifying outbursts of anger when beneath stress, which is commonly. Her mom suffers from a sequence of well being issues, which she begins managing with meals. Embarking on a lifetime of restrictive diets, Carol decides that her household will come alongside for the journey. Soon the kids are placed on “The Program” by an unlicensed physician whose Mafioso purchasers hold watch on the road lest he be jailed. From then on, the children are sustained — barely — by blended salads, celery juice, egg yolks and the occasional handful of nuts.

It’s outstanding how little anger O’Brien conveys in relating her mom’s disordered strategy to consuming. The youngsters comply with Carol’s directions kind of obediently, regardless of being divided from regular society by their incapacity to get pleasure from easy treats. When O’Brien caves and eats a Ho Ho, she’s horrified at having “erased my hard work and all the purity” she had labored for. Perfection appears to be the value of her mom’s affection, an change that may have lifelong repercussions for O’Brien’s relationship to meals.

The story drags at occasions. O’Brien’s father appears all the time to be “whiny” and “high-pitched” when on the verge of rage. Reading a few eating regimen of puréed greens is nearly as tiresome as residing on one. But O’Brien describes her uncommon childhood with loving generosity. She captures her father’s vulnerability and inventive brilliance, and acknowledges her mom’s pioneering, searching for spirit. After all, this was a lady who embraced Ayurveda, meditation and co-op buying lengthy earlier than they turned mainstream. The household’s story is one among renunciation, however not, in the end, one among starvation.

Notes on Life, Love, and Food
By Ann Hood
232 pp. Norton. $24.95.


Hood’s essays are like scorching chocolate, cozy and heat. Her assortment of meditations on meals and life touches the large themes: grief for a brother and a small little one gone out of the blue, two divorces and the tip of a grand affair. Still, Hood describes them with the simple intimacy of a buddy, confessing her foibles as she stirs a pot of crimson sauce. The recipes closing every chapter trace that each heartache will be soothed by the deft software of cheese and carbohydrates.

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