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…