Review: Starting from Scratch by Patty Kirk

Starting from Scratch: Memoirs of a Wandering Cook

A captivating memoir from a cook who’s traveled across the globe cooking, startingfromscratchtasting, and enjoying good food.


Patty Kirk has always loved food: eating it, cooking it, sharing it, talking about it. At six, she scrambled the last of the family’s vacation provisions over the camp fire and concocted a delicacy-eggs with bacon and onions. Overnight she became the family cook and discovered a lifelong passion for cooking that accompanied her through decades of roaming and finally to the farm in Oklahoma where she now lives. Starting from Scratch narrates Kirk’s wanderings in the U.S. and abroad from a culinary perspective, sounding the spiritual, political, and emotional depths of Brillat-Savarin’s famous observation, “Tell me what you eat; I’ll tell you who you are.” In this candid and engaging food memoir—complete with recipes!—good food beckons from the past as well as the future: surrounding us, eluding us, drawing us, defining us.

  • Hardcover, 288 pages
  • Published January 1st 2008 by Thomas Nelson
  • Original Title:  Starting from Scratch: Memoirs of a Wandering Cook
  • ISBN:  078522047X (ISBN13: 9780785220473)
  • Edition Language:  English
Patty Kirk is the author of “Confessions of an Amateur Believer” and subsequent books on topics ranging from food memoir to her lifelong struggle to sense God’s presence. Raised in California and Connecticut, she spent her early adult years abroad and now lives on a farm in Oklahoma and teaches writing just across the Arkansas state-line at John Brown University, where she is Associate Professor of English and Writer in Residence. She and her husband, Kris, have two college-aged daughters, Charlotte and Lulu. Patty’s passions are cooking, gardening, watching birds, and running on the back roads.
My Review . . . 
Have you ever been happily wandering through the bookstore when, suddenly, a book you have never heard of, written by an author you have never heard of, catches your eye and you know you have to have it?  This is how “Starting from Scratch” came to be mine.  This book, part memoir/part cookbook, has been one of the most enjoyable reads I’ve experienced in a long time.  I couldn’t put it down, yet I wanted to stop and savor it like a good meal.
The way the author remembers and shares her food memories resonated with me on a very personal level.  When she talks about the foods cooked and eaten by her family during her childhood, I was reminded of the ’70s-style foods from MY childhood.  As she shared her food memories from her travels, I remembered foods that I have discovered while traveling.  When she discusses the difficulty of replicating lost recipes, I thought of the foods cooked by my grandmothers that I can’t quite duplicate today.  In short, this is a book, written by someone who has a deep respect for food, to be enjoyed by those of us who share her relationship with food.
If I had to describe this book with one word, it would be….delicious.
5 stars