Monday, April 05, 2021

Review: Finding Freedom by Erin French


Title: Finding Freedom
Author: Erin French
Published: April 2021, Celadon Books
Format: ARC E-copy, 304 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

From Erin French, owner and chef of the critically acclaimed The Lost Kitchen, a TIME world dining destination, a life-affirming memoir about survival, renewal, and finding a community to lift her up

Long before The Lost Kitchen became a world dining destination with every seating filled the day the reservation book opens each spring, Erin French was a girl roaming barefoot on a 25-acre farm, a teenager falling in love with food while working the line at her dad's diner and a young woman finding her calling as a professional chef at her tiny restaurant tucked into a 19th century mill. This singular memoir--a classic American story--invites readers to Erin's corner of her beloved Maine to share the real person behind the "girl from Freedom" fairytale, and the not-so-picture-perfect struggles that have taken every ounce of her strength to overcome, and that make Erin's life triumphant.

In Finding Freedom, Erin opens up to the challenges, stumbles, and victories that have led her to the exact place she was ever meant to be, telling stories of multiple rock-bottoms, of darkness and anxiety, of survival as a jobless single mother, of pills that promised release but delivered addiction, of a man who seemed to offer salvation but in the end ripped away her very sense of self. And of the beautiful son who was her guiding light as she slowly rebuilt her personal and culinary life around the solace she found in food--as a source of comfort, a sense of place, as a way of bringing goodness into the world. Erin's experiences with deep loss and abiding hope, told with both honesty and humor, will resonate with women everywhere who are determined to find their voices, create community, grow stronger and discover their best-selves despite seemingly impossible odds. Set against the backdrop of rural Maine and its lushly intense, bountiful seasons, Erin reveals the passion and courage needed to invent oneself anew, and the poignant, timeless connections between food and generosity, renewal and freedom.


My thoughts:  I love reading memoirs and as soon as I saw this book, I knew I wanted to read it. While I am not a huge cook myself, I am slowly starting to become more comfortable with it and I found this book both inspiring and uplifting, especially considering Erin is not a trained chef herself.

I think what I find most appealing about reading memoirs is just how enlightening they can be. I used to be so afraid to cook. I don't know all the spices and how they go together and if I'm not following a recipe, I'm completely lost, but after reading this book about a woman who had more ups and downs than I can ever begin to imagine, and yet just followed her passion, finding solace and home in a kitchen, I feel that I just need to try. I'm a simple girl at heart and that is exactly what Erin was all about...her farm to table philosophy was crystal clear throughout this book and I so loved that. She wasn't all about complicated recipes and if that's the one takeaway I get from this book, I think that's a pretty good one. A good tasting meal doesn't have to be can be quite simple and I can certainly do that...I just need the confidence.

Erin had a remarkable journey to get to where she is today. She's not had an easy life, having to reinvent herself after hitting rock bottom a few times due to a myriad of circumstances, some of her own making and some out of her control, but through persistence, perseverance and the love of some family, she never gave up. I loved her honest, raw approach to telling her story. It wasn't an easy one, yet she told it in an easy, relatable manner and I felt myself completely wrapped up in it, celebrating her wins and feeling her losses.

I only wish there were some recipes included in this book...I would definitely love to give some of the wonderful foods that Erin talks about preparing a go. But, perhaps that just means I'll have to head to The Lost Kitchen to taste her menu myself!  



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