cover image All the Wild Hungers: Essays

All the Wild Hungers: Essays

Karen Babine. Milkweed, $16 trade paper (168p) ISBN 978-1-57131-372-0

In this collection of untitled essays, Babine (Water and What We Know) tenderly recalls a year spent with her close-knit Minnesota family, and the meals they share in times of both despair and celebration. One October, her mother was diagnosed with a rare kind of cancer; shortly afterward, her sister became pregnant with her third child. Whatever the news, Babine methodically and lovingly prepared meals in her colorful, vintage Le Creuset cast-iron pans and dutch ovens, which she had found in secondhand stores. The transportive and vivid descriptions of food in these vignettes (each one is only two to four pages) change with the seasons: she cooks purple cabbage and green apples in the fall as she reckons with her mother’s cancer diagnosis (“I want... the bite of vinegar and sharp apples, because today is the day that stings inside of my skin”), while in spring, bright red rhubarb stalks emerge from the ground. Laced through the book, however, are academic-feeling musings on people’s relationship with food, which interrupt the narrative (America has “a food culture with a strong relationship between shame and food”). Nevertheless, Babine’s writing brims with tenderness—for her family, her home, and the food she prepares—warming readers’ hearts. [em](Jan.) [/em]