Title: Keeping the Feast: One Couple’s Story of Love, Food, and Healing in Italy
Author: Paula Butturini
Release Date: February 18, 2010
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Paula and John were a couple very much in love, but just a month after their wedding, the unthinkable happened. John, who at the time was the Bureau Chief for the New York Times in Warsaw, Poland, was shot in Romania. The book chronicles John’s struggle with depression after the shooting, and the couple’s attempts to heal through love, and most of all, though food.
I love “foodie” memoirs. I love vivid descriptions of food in books, the kind that make your mouth water and make you want to go to the kitchen and whip up something delicious (preferably, whatever it is that’s being described in the book!) Funnily enough, though, it’s not sweets that really get me. While I enjoy dessert, my true love is pastas and breads. I could eat pasta every night of the week (and warm up the leftovers for lunch), so I love reading books that involve Italian food. Keeping the Feast seemed like the perfect book for me, as the author and her husband go to Italy and use the food to try and heal their emotional wounds.
And oh, what descriptions they are! From Butturini’s discussion of the local markets she visits in Rome to her descriptions of pasta, polenta, and more, this book made me woozy with hunger. I craved pasta after reading this book; her descriptions are warm and inviting, with just the right amount of detail to really whet the reader’s appetite.
The parts of the book that deal with John’s depression were a little more difficult for me. I imagine if you’ve grappled with serious, unshakeable depression or you have lived with someone who has, you will really identify with these parts of the memoir. The author shows amazing strength and courage during these parts of Keeping the Feast – I wouldn’t have blamed her for giving up. But she never did, and was an unwavering support for her husband through his troubled times. Though these parts weren’t as intriguing for me, they were still well-written and tugged on my emotions.
Keeping the Feast was an interesting memoir that I’m glad I read. Butturini’s clean prose makes this book easy to read and enjoyable. I recommend this book if you’re enamored of Italian food and have some sort of interest in or personal experience with depression.