Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home

Jessica Fechtor. Penguin Press, $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-59463-132-0
A sudden brain aneurysm and subsequent infection derailed the life plans of Fechtor, a 28-year-old married Harvard grad student, requiring her to undergo a new orientation toward food and the senses. In this straightforward chronicle of her collapse at the treadmill in 2008 while at a convention in rural Vermont, Fechtor relives a painful, confusing episode in the trauma center in Burlington, where she had surgery to stop the bleeding, lost vision in her left eye, and endured a stint in rehab. Buoyed by her devoted husband, Eli, and her Ohio-based family, Fechtor was in excellent hands, and food was brought and offered for healing and comfort, such as Aunt Leslie’s chicken soup. But once she got home to Cambridge, Mass., many of her favorite foods had lost their appeal, like the almond macaroons from her local Hi-Rise bakery. After a raging infection, requiring surgery that took out a portion of her forehead and left her without a sense of smell, a period of “medium dreadful” settled in and she sometimes panicked at her debilitation. Plastic surgery eventually reconstructed her face, and Fechtor slowly returned to cooking and graduate work. In alternate chapters, Fechtor discusses marriage, school, and healing, and a plunge into a food blog, “Sweet Almandine,” to focus her burgeoning hunger and taste. The writing is solid and the recipes, such as sweet potato curry latkes and challah, are basic with a Jewish slant. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/04/2015
Release date: 06/23/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-101-98363-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-4945-1980-3
MP3 CD - 978-1-4945-6980-8
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