Nourished: A Memoir Of Food, Faith & Enduring Love (With Recipes), by Lia Huber
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Blogging For Books/Convergent Books. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. I enjoy reading memoirs about food and faith , for example. Yet there was something about this book that left me cold. Part of it was the fact that the author was a particularly unsympathetic figure, with her continual whining and her left-wing politics and her harping on questions of sustainability and foodie snobbery without being likable enough to discuss those subjects appealing. Part of it was the fact that although the author claimed to be a Christian who takes the Bible seriously, she apparently has not consulted the food laws of the Bible to any great degree, given how often her recipes include pork, shrimp, or other animal products that God considers an abomination. Her flagrant disregard of God’s food laws is all the more remarkable given the author’s evident problems with disease and inflammation, which would encourage someone to eat better, at least for the sake of her health. The fact that the author persists in acting in ways contrary to her best interest as well as against God’s ways while considering herself to be a moral voice to the reader in aspects of family and politics is irritating to the extreme.
In terms of its contents, this is a book that is organized in a chronological fashion with a considerable degree of skill. There are four parts to the book, which begins with the author as a college student engaged to a hunky Greek man from Corfu and then demonstrates her path from New Age spirituality to a social gospel sort of Christianity, to marriage, to various adventures involving food writing and entrepreneurship, adoptive motherhood after various health woes make it impossible for the author to bear children herself. Continually the author shows that she hasn’t moved far beyond her New Age spirituality with a mysticism that is immensely tiresome, almost as tiresome as her frequent tantrums with her husband even as she writes about inner peace and calm. The sheer number of contradictions and hypocrisy in the author’s approach makes it immensely hard to take the author’s pronouncements about the right way to live properly. It would be better if the author had tried to be more modest in her approach and less preachy, because it would be easier to read this book as an honest struggle of an imperfect person to find faith and family in the face of great difficulties than for the author to claim that she was a reluctant foodie only for her to prove as preachy as anyone else of that ilk.
Ultimately, I feel rather divided about this book. I am pretty sure that a market for this book exists among Left Coast social gospel liberal Christians who have a high degree of sympathy for adopting waifs from foreign countries and enjoying rather elitist food tastes while making strong pronouncements. I happen not to be part of that target audience, unfortunately. The recipes of this book would have been far better had they embraced the sort of food that is more widely available for most people in flyover country and if they had included few to no unclean meats, in stark contrast to the frequent references to pork and shellfish products. The book would also have been far better if the author was less insufferable. This book did not leave me nourished in any respect–the author’s spirituality is poor, her biblical knowledge and godliness negligible, her personality irksome and bothersome, and her politics unappealing. And at nearly 300 pages this book is not a short one, although mercifully it is a pretty fast read. The author is certainly competent as a writer, but is missing a lot when it comes to appealing to a mainstream or conservative audience.
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