COMFORT FOOD FOR BREAKUPS: THE MEMOIR OF A HUNGRY GIRL by Marusya Bociurkiw (Arsenal Pulp), 171 pages, $19.95 paper. Rating: NNN
In comfort food for breakups, I feel like in one book I've experienced lesbian love and traversed my dead grandmother's kitchen along with much of Europe, Vancouver and Toronto. I've learned about food traditions, survived war alongside my family - it's been an epic yet familiar read.
Marusya Bociurkiw writes with a plain, poised storyteller's voice. In an exquisite menu pulled from various sections of her life, from her ancestral Eastern Europe to local lesbian feminist housing collectives, Bociurkiw finds meaning in ingredients, aromas and cooking times.
She conveys a hyper-awareness about food - food as reward, food as punishment, food as ritual. Whether describing the small stovetop espresso maker she takes on her travels to ensure she'll have decent caffeine, the titular breakup that takes her appetite away or an intense affair that jumbles cultural etiquette around host and guest, Bociurkiw confirms that you always have more on your plate than it seems.
This is not uncomplicated cupcake fluff, but filling writing full of passion inspired by a life well lived. Her maternal warmth is thick like winter soup, with an edge just tart enough to skew that.
Bociurkiw's first published book of non-fiction is a success, right on the mark. Food is ritual, passed on, reclaimed and revised. We attach it in memory to loves and losses, dates and holidays, and the way we remember it personalizes it and makes it ours.
Comfort Food For Breakups makes me want to know more about my family history, to start keeping lists of things I know how to cook and to ask the people I love over for a meal.