To thine own self be true? Not always so easy.

Kim Sunee’s Trail of Crumbs is a memoir about the search for identity through love, hunger, and food. Abandoned at a young age by her mother in a South Korean marketplace, Kim Sunee is adopted by an American couple who take her to grow up in New Orleans. Always sensing she doesn’t belong Kim Sunee drifts from country to country, man to man, always departing on a continuing search for self. Even when she returns to Korea she finds she does not belong there either. The people in fact reject her with open hostility.

Kim Sunee always thought of herself as a poet, and it is evident in the beauty of her chosen words and the images she carefully crafts. It is a very sensuous book, especially in the way she writes about food and cooking.

I found the first half of her book weepingly beautiful and I read to the early hours of the morning until I could see no more before putting the memoir down. It resounded with me into my dreams.

The second half, like so many books, lacked some of the beauty of the first chapters, and as the story progressed, I became a little annoyed with Kim Sunee .

I can not speak to her emotions and experience of being abandoned and adopted into a culture where she did not look like everyone else. My irritation came from the issue of beautiful women who attach themselves to rich, powerful and talented men, and take every advantage of that life, and yet complain that they have no life of their own. Poor little kept rich girls do no appeal to my feminist consciousness!

Women who consent to be mistresses, then struggle with being objectified and site themselves as victims, though of their own making may I add, anger me. It is not the men forcing them into the position (excuse the unintentional pun!), but one where they site themselves willingly, if not perhaps thoughtlessly.  Follies of youth and beauty perhaps, but don’t take what is offered and then bemoan the fact that your life is not your own!

That vented, it a good read. An interesting read. The central lover she writes about throughout the novel, and there are a few,  is Olivier Baussan, founder of Oliviers & Co. and L’Occitane. She is explicit in her description of their love making, and for a man who obviously prides himself on his “public identity” I wonder how he copes with some of the things that she has written about him.

It is a lyrical work, which flows beautifully, though I must admit the recipes that are tacked onto each chapter, did interrupt the flow of the story line for me.  As Kim Sunee is now a food editor I can only suppose that this was a way to link to her present life.

I have always wondered how people can become so involved in food, and cooking. I have never really understood the emotions they appear to experience as they touch, select and prepare food. Nigella Lawson and her food raptures were like an alien experience, but after reading the sensuous descriptions of food and cooking that Kim Sunee crafted I had an ahah moment, while baking this morning.

It is the moment. They are living in the moment of preparing that food, experiencing that food, eating that food. I envy them now as I have never really had that relationship with food. That moment exists and nothing else, for that moment. I feel that my approach to food may be slightly different in future.

The publisher’s blurb declares A Trail of Crumbs to be a  “A love story at heart, this memoir is about the search for identity and a book that will appeal to anyone who is passionate about love, food, travel, and the ultimate search for self.”  I can only agree – something for all tastes!

I can only wonder if there is a happy ever after…

It’s a thing that happens to you

“What is REAL?” asked the rabbit of the Skin Horse.

“Real isn’t how you are made,” was the answer. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the horse.

“Does it happen all at once, or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once. You BECOME. It takes a long time, that’s why it doesn’t happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.

Generally, by the time you are REAL, most of your hair has been loved off and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to those people who don’t understand.”

                                                                                                                                                  The Velveteen Rabbit.

House and home, not always the same thing

Over the last few days Mr FD and I have been having a discussion about whether we should combine our home and business in one geographical space. I am not talking about clearing a small alcove in an already existing space in our house, or even clearing an abandoned bedroom into an office. Our family business dictates warehouses and forklifts and large semi trailers coming and going. No, we have been discussing selling our home and relocating to an area where we could combine work and home. It makes economic sense, and is entirely logical, however the decision has not been an easy one.

This has led me to think about house and home; and more importantly; why do people cling to physical constructions of home, or place, long after it is obvious that to relocate would offer more opportunities, more freedom?

Home is where the heart is, certainly. But the heart is with family, and if the family is staying together as a unit why do we cling on to situations that are no longer right? What is it about a pile of bricks and mortar, a patch of soil, that makes us fight like threatened animals protecting our piece of the range, the mountain, the jungle?

What is it in the human psyche that makes us attach ourselves to places? Maybe it is a sense of identity in that we develop a concept of self by the physical space we occupy. This might be one reason why we are drawn to decorating our little work cubicles with totems of kith and kin, journeys travelled, hopes, dreams and plans

If that is so, why or how have humans, who started off as nomadic hunter gatherers, evolved into beings that will fight to the death, to protect a piece of the physical world?

As my questions show, I have not created an answer equipped to slow my feverish wanderings of thought. It is not a simple question with one very simple answer from the pop psychology box. Human emotions and perspectives are too individualised and chaotic for a one answer suits all reply.

I have witnessed people clinging to homes when their cares and concerns in life would evaporate if they surrendered their ownership. I have watched third and fourth generation farming families disintegrate due to stubborn planting of their feet into the soils of their home pastures when it no longer filled any economic need for them.

Mr FD and I have worked our way through our discussions and acknowledged our wants and needs and settled on our decision, but why did it take days and days for us to make a decision that on paper would have required only two columns marked pros and cons and a few lines to list? Home is where the heart is indeed, but it appears that often there is much more than that in residence.