Monday, May 3, 2021

Finding Freedom: A Cook's Story; Remaking a Life from Scratch by Erin French


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I'll admit I'm a little bit obsessed with Erin French and The Lost Kitchen. I first saw the show streaming on Discovery Plus but didn't pay any attention to it; then somehow I read a review of it and decided it might be worth checking out. 

Well I checked out the show, alright, and binged watched all eight episodes over a few weekends (yes, that is binge-watching in my world). I was captivated by Erin's Lost Kitchen and her life in Maine. So of course I quickly found out she had a memoir coming out in April, and I checked it out of the library. 

This woman has been through some stuff. BIG stuff. She's a prime example of what a parent does or does not do sticking with their child through adulthood. A father who showed no affection, no support. A mother whom she loved (and still does!), but who didn't stand up to her husband. Those two examples in her childhood lead her down a really dark path as a young woman, and it took a lot of guts and grit to get out of that hole. 

I don't want to talk too much about Erin's life struggles, because I think they are worth you reading about them, and seeing how easy it is to slip down into a deep, dark place. What I want to concentrate on is Erin's love of food. Her absolute adoration of it, and her desire to provide meaningful meals to people. Meals remembered years later for the emotional gift those meals gave to people. 

Erin is not a classically trained chef. She never went to school for cooking; she learned working in her father's diner, and also learned by instinct. She appreciates the bounty that surrounds her in Maine, and works with local farmers to bring the best of the best to her customers. What began as a dream has blossomed into The Lost Kitchen, a special place in an old mill in the very small town of Freedom, Maine. 

What makes The Lost Kitchen unique is that it is only open 4 nights a week, May through September. One sitting, one unforgettable meal. You can't make a reservation; hopeful diners send postcards in April, hoping to be picked to dine at The Lost Kitchen that season. Tens of thousands of postcards flood little Freedom, Maine each year, and what began as a small supper club for friends and family has become something unique, spectacular, and deeply personal to Erin and her crew. 

I actually got a bit sad while watching her show, realizing that I will probably never have the chance to dine at The Lost Kitchen. It's an experience people wait years for, and when they finally arrive, they know it's something unforgettable. The food, oh the food. Erin has a way with cooking and writing about food that will make your mouth water. Food rooted in family, childhood memories, and most of all, feelings. Some people have a gift, and Erin's gift is her magical way with food. There's nothing a cooking school could ever teach her that she doesn't already instinctually know.

I'll just say for those who may be sensitive to certain life experiences, this memoir contains prescription drug abuse, alcoholism, custody battles, divorce, and suicidal thoughts. But to read Erin's journey, warts and all, is uplifting and worth the read. 

I enjoy food memoirs so much but this one was extra special. Bravo Erin for sticking to your dreams and fighting you way through all the crap to find your bliss. 

Rating: 5/6 for a memoir about a woman's journey from a troubled past to a future of fulfillment and happiness with cooking. A powerful story! 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio.


1 comment :

  1. I still have a copy of this I need to read. This is such a lovely review, I'll have to put it closer to the top of my pile.