Title: Crying in H Mart: a Memoir by Michelle Zauner
Book Beginnings quote (from page 1):
Friday56 quote (from page 18, last page of preview):
Summary: Michelle Zauner, a Korean American, writes about her relationship and memories of her mother who died when Michelle was twenty-five. It was her mother's death that forced Michelle to grapple with her identity or her "Koreanness" which allowed her to "reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her."
Review: In the second chapter Michelle confesses she rarely remembers the date of her mother's death, but she cannot forget the food her mother cooked and ate. While Michelle is racked with the grief of her mother's untimely death she finds solace in the Korean food her mother fixed but never taught her to make. Michelle had to turn to the Internet tutorials to learn how to cook the food of her childhood.
Like most people, Michelle's life and relationship with her parents was complicated. She was a rebellious child and caused her parents all kinds of grief. The highlight of her young life were the trips she and her mother to Korea to stay with her grandmother and to spend time with her mother's family every other summer. What she remembers the most of those trips was the food.
It is really obvious food can be one of the love languages. Sharing special food at family gatherings has always been a big deal. When I was growing up I wasn't taught to cook family favorite meals either. I did a lot of baking as a teenager but often that just meant making cakes from boxes or cookies like chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin. When I moved away from home I didn't even know how to make spaghetti sauce or how to cook any meat other than hamburgers. Fortunately for me, my mother is still alive and I have tapped her recipe files over the years. I've actually shared recipes back to my mother that she originally gave me but lost. My husband was taught more cooking skills as he grew up, though looking back, he has a hard time remembering many special meals or recipes that remind him of his parents. Both of us, however, do consider certain meals that we ate often as children as 'comfort food' today -- food we rarely eat, like meatloaf, which is associated with good feelings.
Based on my own experiences with food, family, and comfort I really appreciated Michelle's focus on food as she seeks comfort during her grief. I have never been interested in learning about and tasting Korean food before, but now I certainly do want to try some of the foods she mentioned in the book.