13 August 2016

Weekend Cooking: Stir by Jessica Fechtor

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

Review: Stir by Jessical FechtorA few weeks ago my friend Kathy from the blog Bermuda Onion wrote about the memoir Stir by Jessica Fechtor. About 15 minutes after I read her review, I checked a copy out of my library's Overdrive service.

Oh what a story. In a nutshell, at the age of twenty-eight, while at a graduate school conference in Vermont, Fechtor had a burst brain aneurysm while on a treadmill. She was away from home and without her family, but fortunately, friends and colleagues acted fast and got her admitted to the local hospital, which immediately transferred her to a level 1 trauma unit in Stowe.

From there, Fechtor underwent repeated surgeries, battled infections, lost the sight in one eye, temporarily lost her sense of smell, and was required to wear a helmet on her head for almost two years. She underwent therapy, was forced to put her professional life on hold, was told she might not be able to have children, and had many psychological hurdles to clear.

Throughout it all, she was fortunate to have the never-ending support of her family, her husband, her in-laws, and close friends. The other strong element in her life that kept Fechtor motivated and helped her heal was spending time in her beloved kitchen, baking, hosting parties, and feeding those she loves best.

Stir is an emotionally strong memoir with four interwoven paths: Fechtor and her husband's families, their courtship, her accident and recovery, and food and cooking. This is not your typical food memoir. Fechtor didn't travel the world discovering new flavors and ingredients. She didn't find god, love, or miracles in the kitchen.

Stir is, however, ripe with the deep significance of food and cooking: the idea of food as the symbol for life, for moving forward, for growing; the act of cooking as solace, as nurturing, as giving; and the way people are bound together over something as small as an almond cookie that comes in a fancy orange tin.

Get out your tissues because you'll cry with Jessica Fechtor -- sometimes with joy and sometimes with sorrow. Then wash your hands and head to the kitchen and be kind to yourself and your loved ones.

The food: Fechtor included a handful of recipes in Stir and all look wonderful. Many of them can be found on her popular food blog Sweet Amadine, which she started when she was still trying to teach herself how to reenter the world after she was released from the hospital. In 2009, a friend of hers told her to create a food blog to help fill her days, and so Fechtor did. You'll find her story and a ton of delicious recipes there.

I'll leave you with a passage from Stir I love -- one that might change me.
Being sick, it turns out, is an education in the art of guesting. I didn't see it that way at the time, likely because I didn't know that there were important things still to learn. . . .

A good guest allows herself to be hosted. That means saying, "yes, please," when you're offered a cup of tea instead of rushing to get it yourself. It means staying in your chair, enjoying good company and your first glass of wine while your host ladles soup into bowls. . . . To allow her to take care of  you is to allow your host her generosity. I'd always been too distracted by my own desire to be useful to understand this. I got it now.
Published by Avery, 2015
ISBN-13: 9781594631320
Source: borrowed (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


rhapsodyinbooks 8/13/16, 6:03 AM  

It's amazing, how every time you think you have felt or seen the limit of an ordeal, someone comes along who has had much worse, and made it through. I definitely want to get to this one!

Louise 8/13/16, 7:15 AM  

I've never heard of Stir- it does sound an interesting read though. I've never heard of "guesting" as a term either, I can't say I like it.

Tina 8/13/16, 7:53 AM  

That's a great passage you quoted. I have had this one in my stacks but keep putting it off. I know it's emotionally charged, but it does sound like a fantastic journey.

bermudaonion 8/13/16, 8:19 AM  

I thought this book was wonderful and am so glad you loved it too. Fechtor felt like a friend by the time I finished the book. Wonderful review!

Katherine P 8/13/16, 8:49 AM  

I adored this one! I read it a year or two ago and it's one of those that really stuck with me.

rhonda 8/13/16, 8:50 AM  

I loved this book Jessica her husband her family her friends.Jessica s strength her fight &her love for cooking just a wonderful memoir.

JoAnn 8/13/16, 8:51 AM  

Kathy also convinced me to read this book, so I'm glad to hear it was a winner for you, too. Hope to get to it soon!

Jackie McGuinness 8/13/16, 9:39 AM  

I use Overdrive as well!! I'm sure it is a good book, I had seen it on Kathy's blog as well, but it somehow doesn't appeal to me, too sad.

Esme 8/13/16, 10:17 AM  

A sad but yet interesting story. I will put this on the list. thank you.

Deb in Hawaii 8/13/16, 11:59 AM  

I have had this one on my foodie TBR list for a while now and your review has made it move to the top of the list. I'm going to check to see if my library has it on Overdrive too. Thanks for sharing!

Margot 8/13/16, 12:04 PM  

This post is a good example of why I like to read your blog. It's beautifully written, full of the facts about the story, persuasive, and yet a personal account of how the book affected you. Thank you Candace for all the hard work you do.
I see a parallel between what you do here and the quote about hosting. You know, of course, I'm going to get this book.

Debbie Rodgers 8/13/16, 3:16 PM  

I don't think I'd heard of Stir (I don't know how I missed your review, Kathy of Bermuda Onion.)

Candace, this was a perfect quote to illustrate the book, and to convince me to read it. Thanks so much!

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! 8/13/16, 10:19 PM  

Wow, I am going to visit her blog now. PS Sorry I accidently posted the same link twice, if you have a removal tool, boy would I appreciate that! Thank you for hosting.

Shaheen 8/14/16, 11:50 AM  

I am terrible for reading books, used to love them in my youth but after leaving University, its all be academic or cookery books, you def. want me to pick up a book and get lost in it. Lovely to make your acquaintance too. I am joining in for the first time and hope I fit the brief, if not - please let me know. Thanks in advance

Molly 8/14/16, 8:48 PM  

Somehow I missed Kathy's review, but such high praise from both of you means I must add this to my TBR list

celticjulia 8/28/16, 8:52 AM  

I finished reading this book last night. I loved it and am recommending to a lot of people. I, too, felt like I became one of her friends. Thanks for the recommendation!

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