A memoir about family, an exploration of the globalization of food cultures, and a meditation on the complicated relationships between mothers and sons,
is complex, unpredictable, and unexpectedly hilarious.
Jan Wong knows food is better when shared, so when she set out to write a book about home cooking in France, Italy, and China, she asked her 22-year-old son, Sam, to join her. While he wasn't keen on spending excessive time with his mom, he dreamed of becoming a chef. Ultimately, it was an opportunity he couldn't pass up. On their journey, Jan and Sam live and cook with locals, seeing first-hand how globalization is changing food, families, and cultures. In southeast France, they move in with a family sheltering undocumented migrants. From Bernadette, the housekeeper, they learn classic French family fare such as blanquette de veau. In a hamlet in the heart of Italy's Slow Food country, the villagers teach them without fuss or fanfare how to make authentic spaghetti alle vongole and a proper risotto with leeks. In Shanghai, they home-cook firecracker chicken and scallion pancakes with the nouveaux riches and their migrant maids, who comprise one of the biggest demographic shift in world history. Along the way, mother and son explore their sometimes-fraught relationship, uniting — and occasionally clashing — over their mutual love of cooking.
Told with insight and intimacy, and radiating with warmth and humor,
The Measure of My Powers
is an unforgettable experience of the senses. On the surface, Jackie Kai Ellis' life was the one that every woman--herself included--wanted. She was in her late twenties and married to a handsome man, she had a successful career as a designer, and a home that she shared with her husband. But instead of feeling fulfilled, happy, and loved, each morning she'd wake up dreading the day ahead, searching for a way out. Depression clouded every moment, the feelings of inadequacy that had begun in childhood now consumed her, and her marriage was slowly transforming into one between two strangers--unfamiliar, childless, and empty. In this darkness, she could only find one source of light: the kitchen. It was the place where Jackie escaped, finding peace, comfort, and acceptance. This is the story of how, armed with nothing but a love of food and the words of the great 20th century food writer M.F.K. Fisher, one woman begins a journey--from France to Italy, then the Congo and back again--to find herself. Along the way, she goes to pastry school in Paris, eats the most perfect apricots over the Tuscan hills, watches a family of gorillas grazing deep in the Congolese brush, has her heart broken one last time on a bridge in Lyon, and, ultimately, finds a path to life and joy.