I get caught on this hook over and over. Maybe you do too…or maybe you are a faster learner. But when I see women who are beautiful or smart or super successful, or who have a certain upper-middle class polished look and a lot of poise, I start to think...Well, …it’s actually what I don’t think:
I don’t think: “I wonder if she has ever been arrested?” or “I wonder if she drinks herself into oblivion every night?” Or “I wonder if her biggest secret is an alcohol-infused eating disorder punctuated by depression, anxiety or sex addiction?”
No, rather, I am more likely to think (yes even after 33 years of recovery) “Oh, look at her nice (hair, job, house, resume, poise) I’ll never be like that.” Yep—I am still judging the
But then I do stop cold when I pick up this new book, “The Comfort Food Diaries” by Emily Nunn. I look at the back flap first: Lots of good looks and poise and polish, and a writer-envy resume: A decade at The New Yorker, her own column, features reporter for the Chicago Tribune. And she’s writing about grief—the subtitle is “My Quest for the Perfect Dish to Mend a Broken Heart.”
And then I start to read, and my book-cover judgment falls away. Emily Nunn has been everywhere you’d expect from a successful well-educated journalist, and then some. Turns out that she’s been to hell and back, and to Betty Ford in-between. She’s been an alcoholic, relationship crazy, clinically depressed, heartbreakingly devastated by her brother’s death and then loss of her fiancé and that meant that he also took his young daughter who was so important to Emily.
Envy gone, jealousy vanished. Sisterhood in full force.
It’s a great book and a surprising story. And one of the cool things is that she includes recipes. Emily can cook and she cooked her way thru addiction and cooked her way out—and she cooked her way around the country—depending on the kindness of loved ones and friends who cared for her while she cried and cooked and healed.
This is a travel book and a food history and a story of one woman’s heartbreaking breakdown and her (literally) recipe for putting a life back together. And yes, the writing is kick-ass good because, she was, after all, a writer for the New Yorker, and that’s not nothing.