I did a marathon read, where I couldn’t put down Candace Walsh’s Licking the Spoon: A Memoir of Food, Family and Identity. I was hooked from the beginning, but reading Kindle is not satisfying to my physical needs of marking the page or dog-earing favorite passages. I actually remember what side of the page I make a mark when reading a physical book and can refer to it in the future. So, I had to pause my reading and buy the physical book.
I’m so happy I did. Walsh’s writing style envelops and turns me, like I’m being traipsed across a ballroom. She also builds scenes with punchy descriptions that capture the reader’s senses. When she writes about food, it’s palpable. She describes a spicy burrito as “sinuous and I could sense its boundaries.”
There’s her first sex scene, of which I’ve read many, but this one is both raw and innocent at the same time. I’m not going to give you the goods, but I am going to cite a fantastically written list at the end of the chapter:
“…despite the loutishness, the snoring and the beery saliva and nicotine scented fingers, the manky boxers and his foxy odors, my guilt and ebbing sense of adventure, as dawn grayed the darkness and the low Western New York sunrise yellowed the grayness, I fell oddly in love.”
In my undergrad writing classes, we wrote lists. We read through Annie Proulx short stories underlining her lists. “Do this,” my professor commanded, “and your reader will experience the whole of your scene.”
Yes, Walsh could have simply written: we didn’t have sex and yet I fell in love with him. There are a bunch of ways this could have locked the reader out. Instead, we are invited into the dusky room, stinking of boy and sex with her.
This is a small part of the “identity” theme that is cleverly woven throughout this food and family narrative. One thing you might have to do while reading this book is make sure you’ve already eaten. The recipes are at the end, so don’t fret. You’ll get your chance to eat.