I still remember where I was (a café at Skidmore College) that afternoon in early 2008 when a profile on the food page of The New York Times stopped me in my tracks and clenched my throat into a lump.
Anyone who knows me knows all about my adulation of good food. When something looks or tastes Divine beyond words (even on paper), I’ve been known to shed tears. But I felt myself wiping away the saline trail on my face for a different reason. I had just read a recap of Kim Sunee’s memoir, “Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and The Search for Home.”
The book starts off like this: A mother-daughter shopping expedition is taking place in a crowded marketplace in South Korea, only it’s not really a shopping trip, but the perfect location to abandon a three-year-old child who, for whatever reason, has been deemed expendable by her family. We never know and Sunee to this day doesn’t know why her mother left her in that marketplace with a piece of bread wadded into one hand, wandering for a day or two until the police take her in and deposit her in an orphanage.
Sunee’s memoir chronicles an odyssey that centers around a passion for orchestrating unforgettable dishes (Whispery Eggs with Crabmeat) coupled with the inescapable ache of displacement. It’s both a sensual and sad account of an emotionally disjointed childhood in New Orleans, followed by absorbing sojourns in Nice, Stockholm, Provence, Paris, and Korea. Her adoptive parents are well-meaning but distant. Instead, Sunee finds solace with her beloved Poppy, who teaches her the joys of making a flawless crawfish gumbo. Food, specifically hedonistic ingredients such as lemon verbena, truffles, and crème de cassis are both a means of loving others and salving her emotional scars. Each chapter is as touchingly honest as it is delicious.
You know what’s totally beyond me? Why her story hasn’t been made into a movie…and “Julie & Julia” has. Am I missing something? Meryl if you’re listening: you’d be PERFECT to play Kim Sunee’s adoptive mother – c’mon!
Clearly, the fact that Kim Sunee’s book is a compelling read isn’t news, but here’s what is: she’s actually going to be in town next week. In Glens Falls, at 7 p.m. Friday, July 17, at Red Fox Books at 28 Ridge St. Kim Sunee will be center stage, signing books and presiding over irresistible plates of her favorite recipes from “Trail of Crumbs,” (prepared by the incomparable Sally “Aunt Sally” Longo). For information, visit http://www.redfoxbookstore.com/NASApp/store/IndexJsp?s=storeevents .
And you can sit down to dinner with her too: Sunee will be at The Perfect Wife Restaurant & Tavern in Manchester, Vt. at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 16, for dinner and conversation. The $50 cost includes a copy of “Trail of Crumbs.” For reservations, call Northshire Bookstore at (800) 437-3700.
Anyway, I’m sure not going to miss out on this and you’ve now got a week to plan it into your schedule. And if you live out of state, there’s still time to get a plane ticket...