Licking the Spoon: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Identity

Licking the Spoon: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Identity

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by Candace Walsh
     
 

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Recipes and cookbooks, meals and mouthfuls have framed the way Candace Walsh sees the world for as long as she can remember, from her frosting-spackled childhood to her meat-eschewing college years to her post-college phase as a devoted Martha Stewart's Entertaining disciple.

In Licking the Spoon, Walsh tells how, lacking role models in her early

Overview

Recipes and cookbooks, meals and mouthfuls have framed the way Candace Walsh sees the world for as long as she can remember, from her frosting-spackled childhood to her meat-eschewing college years to her post-college phase as a devoted Martha Stewart's Entertaining disciple.

In Licking the Spoon, Walsh tells how, lacking role models in her early life, she turned to cookbook authors real and fictitious (Betty Crocker, Martha Stewart, Mollie Katzen, Daniel Boulud, and more) to learn, unlearn, and redefine her own womanhood. Through the lens of food, Walsh recounts her life’s journey—from unhappy adolescent to straight-identified wife and mother to divorcée in a same-sex relationship—and she throws in some dishy revelations, a-ha moments, take-home tidbits, and mouth-watering recipes for good measure. A surprising and rambunctiously liberating tale of cooking and eating, loving and being loved, Licking the Spoon is the story of how—accompanied by pivotal recipes, cookbooks, culinary movements, and guides—one woman learned that you can not only recover but blossom after a comically horrible childhood if you just have the right recipes, a little luck, and an appetite for life's next meal.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
03/01/2014
Food writer Walsh mixes memoir with recipes and blends in the history of her matriarchal family. She leaves no stone unturned in her descriptions of her life with abusive men and the birth of her daughter, all while yearning to meet the right woman.
Publishers Weekly
Freelance writer Walsh's memoir starts off with great promise. Her early family history includes both Cuban and Greek roots and foodstuffs as well as Irish alcoholic dysfunctionality. Passion for food and cooking, a constant during the author's broken childhood and adolescence, persisted despite several geographical relocations. Her initial steps toward selfhood included foreign travel and college along with romance sex and drugs. By the time the narrator moves to New York, the narrative devolves into a chronicle of various relationships, harder drugs, various jobs and therapy. Walsh meets a man whom she later marries and who fathers her two children, and after a final, post 9/11 move to New Mexico, they divorce and the narrator remarries, this time a woman. Long-buried family secrets and eating disorders are part of overwrought memoir laced with vivid scenes and finished with. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
"In the spirit of Nora Ephron’s Heartburn and Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking, Candace Walsh uses the story of her passionate relationship to food to frame a powerful and honest account of her life." —Gretchen Rubin, author of the New York Times bestseller The Happiness Project

"Candace Walsh's luscious prose brings this memoir vividly to life. She weaves the comfort of food throughout her brave and ultimately uplifting quest to find her witty wonderful self. And we readers are nourished by coming along on Walsh's journey. Bon appetit." —Cheryl Alters Jamison, four-time James Beard Award-winning author of Smoke & Spice, Tasting New Mexico, The Border Cookbook, and The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking & Entertaining

"Funny, moving, and as irresistible as chocolate cake, Candace Walsh's delicious memoir isn't just a coming-of-age of a remarkable woman by way of the kitchen pantry, but a smart, gorgeously written exploration of the foods—and the people—who really nourish us." —Caroline Leavitt, author of the New York Times bestseller, Pictures of You

"Like Jane Eyre and Heartburn, Licking the Spoon is a book you won't be able to put down and a story you won't soon forget." —Theo Pauline Nestor, author of How to Sleep Alone in a King-Sized Bed

"Engaging in its narrative and as satisfying as the recipes for Ropa Vieja and Chicken Fricassee included, this is truly a memoir from the heart." —Curve Magazine

"The book's brightest points serve as testaments to personal reinvention and healing...when Walsh writes with pride and joy of the day she brought her shiny, new KitchenAid home and recalls tenderly the comfort found in a simple chicken fricassee, those moments shimmer like oil in a hot pan." —Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
One woman cooks and cries her way through seasons of disenchantment and discovery. Fraught with family drama and dinner tables, New Mexico Magazine managing editor Walsh's (co-editor: Dear John, I Love Jane: Women Write About Leaving Men for Women, 2010, etc.) story begins before conception and leaves few moments of her life thereafter unturned. "This story," she writes, "is not only the story of my lifelong love affair with food, but a story of identity: how I found out what (and who) I was truly made of historically; what my own truth was, one meal at a time." Walsh opens with a brief climb up the family tree, focusing especially on her family's matriarchs and their bruised relationships with men, prefiguring the author's own story. We see Walsh as a child, forced by her father to clear her plate of her own vomit; as a high school graduate, nearly choked to death by her stepfather; as a young adult, experimenting with drugs and alcohol and dating losers. The book's brightest points serve as testaments to personal reinvention and healing. The rapid hot-and-cold changes in her undeniably tumultuous life will keep pages turning, and Walsh wins points for resisting the frostinglike sweetness of many contemporary food memoirs, but the thick, bitter glaze of self-pity will not suit everyone's tastes. Passionate depictions of food and cooking, seemingly offered as a main course, fail to tempt, although several of the book's small moments of levity are catalyzed by culinary matters. When Walsh writes with pride and joy of the day she brought her shiny, new KitchenAid home and recalls tenderly the comfort found in a simple chicken fricassee, those moments shimmer like oil in a hot pan. A memoir of broken relationships, family recipes and hard-earned love that reads at times like a menu of personal grievances and their suggested food pairings.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781580054713
Publisher:
Avalon Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/20/2012
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
File size:
1 MB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
In the spirit of Nora Ephron’s Heartburn and Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking, Candace Walsh uses the story of her passionate relationship to food to frame a powerful and honest account of her life." —Gretchen Rubin, author of the New York Times bestseller The Happiness Project

"Candace Walsh's luscious prose brings this memoir vividly to life. She weaves the comfort of food throughout her brave and ultimately uplifting quest to find her witty wonderful self. And we readers are nourished by coming along on Walsh's journey. Bon appetit." —Cheryl Alters Jamison, four-time James Beard Award-winning author of Smoke & Spice, Tasting New Mexico, The Border Cookbook, and The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking & Entertaining

"Funny, moving, and as irresistible as chocolate cake, Candace Walsh's delicious memoir isn't just a coming-of-age of a remarkable woman by way of the kitchen pantry, but a smart, gorgeously written exploration of the foods—and the people—who really nourish us." —Caroline Leavitt, author of the New York Times bestseller, Pictures of You

"Like Jane Eyre and Heartburn, Licking the Spoon is a book you won't be able to put down and a story you won't soon forget." —Theo Pauline Nestor, author of How to Sleep Alone in a King-Sized Bed

"Engaging in its narrative and as satisfying as the recipes for Ropa Vieja and Chicken Fricassee included, this is truly a memoir from the heart." —Curve Magazine

"The book's brightest points serve as testaments to personal reinvention and healing...when Walsh writes with pride and joy of the day she brought her shiny, new KitchenAid home and recalls tenderly the comfort found in a simple chicken fricassee, those moments shimmer like oil in a hot pan." —Kirkus Reviews

Meet the Author

Candace Walsh has been a freelance writer for almost fifteen years. She has written for many publications, including Blender, New York Magazine, Mademoiselle, Newsday, Sunset, Travel&Leisure, Mothering, German Vogue, and Food&Wine. She is also the managing editor of the website My Healing Kitchen, a co-founder of Mamalicious magazine, and the editor of two Seal Press anthologies: Dear John, I Love Jane: Women Write About Leaving Men for Women and Ask Me About My Divorce: Women Open Up About Moving On.

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Licking the Spoon: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Identity 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
WestchesterMom More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book because not only it makes you think, laugh, cry and get inspired, but it makes you WANT to go and COOK, and BAKE!! Immediately!!!I finally found a book with Greek recipes I was looking for! It made me feel closer and warmer to my family, to my daughter... It touched me deeply reminiscing about my own journey from Europe, my ancestors, my identitiy.Candace is so honest, so true.. it takes my breath away..Can't put the book down, with deepest admiration for the writer!THANK YOU,Candace!!!!P.S. Bought it as a present for my sister who enjoys it tremendously!
HamiltonK8 More than 1 year ago
Once I started this book I found it very difficult to put it down.... And when I got to the last page I really didn't want it to end. This book turned out to be more than just a foodie's gastronomic journey through different styles of cooking. It is an exploration of emotions, life changes, family history and dynamics, mixed and stirred into the author's relationship and expression with and through food... Raw at times, bittersweet, beautiful, and inspiring.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have a confession to make. I totally judge books by their covers. I buy wine based on their labels. I am easily seduced by witty names and creative artistic renderings. I'm a label slut. And I can honestly say that had I come upon Candace Walsh's book by chance, I would have picked it up and bought it immediately. Licking the Spoon? I'm an only child. I ALWAYS got to lick the spoon. And so when my little local island bookstore called to let me know my order had arrived, I took one look at its cover and was immediately delighted and ready to lick that spoon...er...so to speak. From there, the cover's seduction fell to the wayside, unnecessary in my plunge forward as I feasted on Candace's willingness to put it all out there, to allow the vulnerability and rawness of her heart's dark corners to take center stage, and her ability to roll the whole gooey mess of her life's challenges in a dusting of sweetness. By the end, it was clear that I had just played witness to a great love story- the story of Candace's learning to love herself. At so many turning points and forks in the road, I anticipated the bitterness of rejection, the sachrinity of losing oneself in love, and yet none of it came. It was a hearty, well-balanced path of love, loss, growth, and, ultimately, empowerment... but mostly I appreciated it as a story of coming home. Thank you, Candace, for welcoming me into your home and feeding me with your journey.
StacieJung More than 1 year ago
In her memoir, Licking the Spoon, Candace Walsh has offered us an unflinching account of growing up and past a tumultuous childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. And it is quite a ride. Ms. Walsh's writing is conversational and intriguing without ever becoming confessional. Many people have said they couldn't put the book down, but there were times I had to stop and take a break because I found the train wreck moments in her life, particularly her childhood, overwhelming, even as she demonstrated restraint from presenting them as intentionally sensational or shocking. How refreshing it is to see someone write without overtly striving for emotional manipulation, stealing our hearts without resorting to conventional sentimentality. What a rare find, a writer so the gifted that she can allow us to follow her in total specificity, detailing her ownership of every event and its repercussions, never wavering to spare or generalize, and in so doing, creating an experience at once personal and universal. What Ms. Walsh offers in her memoir is an opportunity to watch an intelligent and sensitive child grow past the deficiencies of her origins and choose to ultimately become a luminous woman, mother, wife, journalist, magazine editor, and author, and to live a life that makes her happy without compromise, outside validation, or apologies. What an inspiration. What a joy.