Paula Butturini and her husband John had a fairytale-like courtship: they met in Italy, fell in love, and later got married in Rome. But less than a month after their wedding, John was shot in the stomach and almost killed while on the job in Romania. John not only had to recover from his injury physically but emotionally as well – he was struck with debilitating depression for years following the shooting. John’s depression dramatically changed their marriage, and while Paula dealt with its effects on her own life, and John slowly improved, food was always the centerpiece for their marriage and their life together. It was the daily routine of purchasing fresh food, creating three meals, and sitting around a table together that helped keep their family knitted together in the face of such a destructive disease as depression.
I am a person who loves food. LOVES food. I love to eat, I love to try new restaurants and types of foods, and I’m even starting to love to cook. And I totally believe in the restorative power of an excellent meal with great company. So when I was asked to review Keeping the Feast, I absolutely couldn’t resist. And I’m happy to say that it lived up to my expectations completely.
Paula Butturini has written a compelling memoir about a majorly tumultuous time in her life and her marriage, a time in which food was the only thing that kept her sane. A time in which the daily preparation of her family’s meals helped heal her soul, her mind, and her relationship with her husband. I loved reading this memoir. I was compelled by her story and I felt her pain as she dealt with her husband’s illness and tried to find a way to find happiness in her marriage and her life despite all the difficulty they were facing. I didn’t want to put the book down until I found out how things would turn out for her husband, whether he would get better and when, and how their marriage would survive and hopefully remain a happy one.
The descriptions of food in the book were absolutely mouth-watering. Reading Keeping the Feast made me very, very hungry! Every time Butturini described a meal she was making, I had the urge to run out to the store, buy the ingredients, and attempt to make it for myself. I also loved the sense of place in the book. I’ve been to Italy once, when I was a kid, and reading Keeping the Feast brought some of those hazy memories back of exploring the beautiful country of Italy. It definitely made me want to plan a trip overseas, or at the very least, find a really fantastic Italian restaurant nearby.
The only complaint I have about the book is that she didn’t include any recipes. I would love to have concrete recipes of some of the amazing things she made throughout the book so I could make them for myself!
If you love food, and I know most people do, I highly recommend Keeping the Feast. Paula Butturini has written a compulsively readable memoir about the power of her family to heal one another through the cooking and sharing of a meal. This is a beautiful book with a wonderful message.