How many of us have ever really tasted olive oil as if we were tasting it for the first time? Picture the whites of an egg bubbling up, the yolk doing a gentle jiggle as the pan hisses and sputters with beautiful, real olive oil. Granules of salt shower down in the perfect even coating. And you just take a bite and savor every hint of texture and flavor.
This scene was reality for Lia Huber, noted travel writer, food writer, and Nourished evangelist. Huber, a Chicagoan, grew up in the era and mindset of Midwestern meat and potatoes, slowly falling into the fad diets that were so popular amongst American high schoolers as she grew older. A self-proclaimed lover of Cheetos and hater of vegetables, Huber was constantly in a battle with the food. A trip to Greece and a bite of a fried egg in olive oil marked a stark turning point in Huber’s life.
“Greece was the perfect place to be…my horizons were opened by simplifying and getting back to the very essence of food rather than exploring new flavors. I was exploring what I thought I knew but actually I had no idea. It brought this level of curiosity and open-mindedness.”
But, as Huber’s book Nourished chronicles, that moment of clarity and subsequent open-mindedness was not the start of a happy ending. In fact, it was only the beginning of a very bumpy road involving marriage, faith, and a battle against both lupus and cancer. Throw in a cross-country road trip to the jungles of Costa Rica, adventuring to wine country in California, and the rigors of child birth/adoption, and Nourished becomes a memoir about a life of loss and discovery that keeps coming back to what binds us all—the common ground of food.
Each chapter explodes with larger than life characters and scenes that are sometimes uncomfortably raw. Stream of consciousness thoughts about Divinity run through the pages, as do ruminations about what food means to us as a culture, as a society, and as individuals. How do we account for things we cannot explain? How do we power through life’s curveballs? Sometimes, the recipes at the end of each chapter are enough to provide comfort, if not answers, to the questions Huber faces.
At its best, Nourished bares Huber’s vulnerability and conflict, allowing it along with smells of saffron-lemon butter sauce and Frijoles or stuffed figs to seep into the reader’s soul. In the very least, Nourished will make you yearn for travel and provides you with recipes to do so from your kitchen.
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