Sunday, November 21, 2021

Plenty: A Memoir of Food and Family by Hannah Howard

*Warning: this memoir discusses anorexia, bulimia and a miscarriage
To Purchase from Amazon, c 

It's only fitting I read a food memoir in the month of Thanksgiving, which is all about the food. I want to have a special appetizer on Thanksgiving and I haven't figured out just what it will be. I will say, however, this memoir gave me some inspiration, and my appetizer will definitely have a cheese component to it! 

Hannah Howard is a food writer and has a varied background in all things food: waitressing, working at a cheese shop, traveling and writing about food, and supporting local restaurants in New York City. 

Hannah has also suffered from anorexia and bulimia and her relationship with food is definitely unusual. How do you pick food as a career when it is the one thing that drives you to constantly count calories, skip meals, and gorge yourself?

The restaurant & food industry is male dominated, and Hannah decided it was time to start seeking out those women who are making a difference in a variety of ways: from opening their own restaurants, to creating getaways for foodies, to being responsible for the introduction of goat cheese to an American audience. 

As Hannah travels and makes connections, she gets married and decides to try for a baby. It's a struggle for her to make peace with her body, but as she meets and befriends women in the food community, she begins to appreciate and come to terms with her relationship to food. She has some pretty big highs and lows in her journey to motherhood. 

I haven't met a cheese I haven't liked, so all of Hannah's descriptions of various cheeses kept me salivating! Her obvious love and appreciation for food and the people who create masterpieces from simple ingredients again reminded me to stop, savor, and take time to enjoy food. It's easy in a busy world to just eat whatever is easiest and not even taste it. It also made me a bit brave--I am always hesitant to try cooking something complicated. This was a good wake up call to step out of my comfort zone and explore and enjoy the process (and the results, if I don't muck them up!). 

I enjoyed this memoir and Hannah's journey to motherhood. It was exciting to read about so many women who are making waves in the food world. Hannah's struggle with anorexia and bulimia also helped me understand the mental pain women go through trying to uphold extreme society standards and expectations. 

Rating: 4/6 for a thoughtful memoir about food, motherhood, and mental illness. Hannah's writing is engaging, thoughtful, and from the heart. 

Available in hardcover, paperback, audio, and ebook. 

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