Travel is broadening. Food is universal and brings people together. These are facts that have been affirmed time and again, by countless personages over the years. In Nourished: A Memoir of Food, Faith & Enduring Love, by Lia Huber, these ideas form the core of a story that bears witness to the author’s evolution from someone who, to use her words, “fought with food” in her early life, to a widely-published food writer and recipe developer.
Personal introspection is an overarching theme of the book; awakenings and epiphanies at various stages of the author’s life, though for this author, such moments are invariably tethered to food; its enjoyment and preparation. Huber is candid about her early notions of eating and cooking, hewing too often in her youth to processed fare and fast food for the former, and a narrow roster of dishes devoid of vegetables for the latter. This changes on a trip taken to Corfu, Greece, where a simple, farm-fresh egg fried in olive oil ignites a wondering curiosity that would take Huber on road trips to locales like Costa Rica and Oaxaca, Mexico and put her on planes to Nice, France and Venice, Italy in search of ways to expand her knowledge. Even in instances when the author’s discovery of a new food or prep method or cooking term might seem less of a revelation to the reader, it is presented with an exuberance that renders her excitement infectious and makes the reader glad that she’s added a new experience to the toolkit that will both fuel and inform her future food writings.
Cooking as a means of reaching across the miles between cultures and civilizations to unite people in ways that feel larger than ourselves, is only one facet of this book’s guiding theme. Early in the book, the author describes experiencing an additional form of that communion in rediscovering religion as a born-again Christian. Here again, we find a motif of bridging, of melding two worlds that at first seem unrelated—the author’s flourishing love of food and inchoate reconnection with the concept of divinity.
The author serves us a naked look (one so intimate as to at times leave this reader feeling humbled) at her struggle to reconcile the two interests and attempt to define each one’s presence in her life. That she wrestles with this while beset with chronic health issues, is a testament to the importance she places on finding room for these passions to coexist. Huber holds forth in a writing style that is direct and unblinking. She expresses compelling insights regarding the power of faith, relates stories of her early adulthood and an early romance, and white-knuckled accounts of being diagnosed with life-changing ailments.
While these events more often than not get explored in thorough fashion, some of the book’s more emotionally evocative dialogues and event progressions could stand to have been expounded upon, as when Huber, years after breaking off their engagement, comes face-to-face with the ex-fiancé who opened her eyes to her earliest food revelations. This doesn’t detract from the fact that the author’s candor and use of language crafts a warm, affectionate love letter to food and how to use fresh ingredients to transcend all that we think we know about it. Bolstering this is the fact that scattered throughout Nourished, are a tantalizing multitude of the author’s recipes, not one of them detailing a dish that doesn’t sound delicious. Each recipe is accompanied by an introductory paragraph that tells readers a bit about what or whom inspired the dish, where it was born, and the like.
In Nourished, Lia Huber welcomes us into her moments of greatest joy and agony, and finds not only faith amidst them, but also time to give us something good to eat. Lia Huber is also the creator of the website Nourish Evolution, an endeavor dedicating to helping us eat better by eating with fresh, simple ingredients. Get Nourished at Amazon.com.
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Convergent Books
This article appeared on FlavorfulWorld.com.