Work Title: Comfort Food for Breakups: The Memoir of a Hungry Girl
Work Author(s): Marusya Bociurkiw
Arsenal Pulp Press
176 pages, Softcover $16.95
Reviewer: Julie Falkner
Good food can be a powerful memory trigger: sometimes a single pungent whiff releases recollections of long nights of exam cramming, or with one or two garlicky bites one is instantly transported back to a crowded Italian trattoria.
Comfort Food for Breakups is a celebration of the sometimes painful, sometimes passionate interconnections between food and memories. Bociurkiw, also the author of a blog entitled Recipes for Trouble, is a filmmaker, lesbian, and global wanderer with a Ukrainian heritage. She offers a collection of twenty-four food-inspired autobiographical pieces, grouped under headings such as "Mama's Kitchen and Beyond" and "Food Voyages." Some of the short pieces, which cover topics ranging from chocolate to vegetable curry, are accompanied by relevant recipes.
The result is occasionally disjointed, as when Bociurkiw jumps from the yellow snow of Chernobyl in one paragraph to her mother's tomatoes and flowers in the next. Overall, however, dipping into this diverse collection is an appetite-stirring experience.
Bociurkiw is an accomplished cook who also writes vividly. Her account of traveling by bus through "the wide primordial Anatolian plain" of Turkey is wonderfully evocative: "Unknown sage-green rivers will pass by your window, and the slow-motion, early morning movements of villagers carrying loaves of bread, sending children off to school, or glancing up from cafes will stir you to wonder." She goes on to describe with...