Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness by Sasha Martin

This book was not what I expected.  I'm always eager to read memoirs that involve cooking, family traditions, and recipes.  This memoir did have that, but surrounding Sasha Martin's food traditions and memories was a childhood of loss, abandonment, and grief. 

I have always recognized how lucky my siblings and I were to grow up in a household that had a Mom and a Dad, supper on the table every night at 5:30, and every holiday spent at our house.  There were no half-siblings, no far flung parents, no step-parents. My parents were married for 51 years before my Dad passed away.  Surrounded by a society that marries, divorces, marries again, divorces again; has children with each husband or wife; moves far away from family and only connects maybe once a year; well, I've seen how it affects kids.  We all have.  This stretching of roots and family is at the heart of Life from Scratch.  

Sasha Martin grew up in Boston, Connecticut, Paris, and Luxembourg.  Her mother, hoping to give her children a better life, granted guardianship of Sasha and her brother Michael to old family friends Patricia and Pierre.  Wrenched from their mother, with very little contact, Sasha and her brother struggled to fit into their new family, and a new life.  Sasha and her mother had connected over cooking, and even that was taken from her when she lived with Patricia and Pierre.  Tragedy soon visits Sasha, and she unravels in Paris, drinking and partying in her teen years as a way to escape her pain and accept that her mother won't communicate.  In fact, it is years before Sasha ever is able to see her mother again. A move back to the US to attend college results in a severing of ties to Patricia and Pierre.  She is on her own.  

Sasha eventually moves to Tulsa, Oklahoma and finds the peaceful, even keel of Tulsa a balm to her soul.  Nothing happens there, and that's just what she needs.  Buying a home makes her feel, for the first time in years, that she is finally home.  Marriage and a baby follow, and Sasha can't believe her luck.  She waits for the other shoe to drop; after all, that's what always happened before.  

But the shoe doesn't drop, and Sasha reawakens her passion for cooking by deciding to cook one meal a week for all 195 countries on the planet.  She starts a blog, The Global Table Adventure to chronicle her recipes and travels around the world from the comfort of her home.  In this, she begins to find some peace, forgiveness, and the realization that home is all around us in the people we meet, our neighbors, and our community.  We just have to open our eyes.  

The book is full of recipes that you can make if you feel like traveling the world from your house, too.  I was quite moved by Sasha's disconnected childhood  and everything she experienced and felt in her struggle to find home.  An incredibly strong woman who could have made so many bad choices, but chose instead to embrace life in all its messy glory.  Part food writing, part memoir, Food from Scratch is an excellent book club choice.  Visit Sasha's website to see all her recipes, meet her husband Keith and daughter Ava, and prepare to cook!  

Rating:  7/10 for a moving memoir about family, love, grief, and food.  

Available in hardcover and ebook.  


  1. I'm going to check this one out. Like you, I enjoy books that revolve around food but this sounds like it has another side that I would be interested in.

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