I didn’t think twice about picking up this book. It has everything I love – a romance, a little bit of magic, a girl finding her place in the world. I wouldn’t think of missing it!
What I found when I opened the pages and dove in did not disappoint. In fact, it’s such a unique story that I almost don’t want to delve into the details and give anything away…
Suffice it to say the story follows a young woman who returns home to San Francisco’s Chinatown after many years away (and a not-so-happy parting with her agoraphobic mother). She returns because her mother has passed away, and she’s plagued with sorrow and guilt at having left her mother on bad terms. She finds her community in disrepair and longs to help in a way she couldn’t have before she’d left. According to a mystic, the neighborhood will prosper if she makes three recipes to help three neighbors.
Because Natalie Tan’s recipes come from her grandmother’s magic recipe book–a book that features recipes for the tastebuds, but ingredients for the heart, her cooking contains just as much magic, repairing damaged relationships and helping love to flourish. It’s the story of a woman who finds her place in this world.
But it’s also a story of suspending disbelief, of allowing magical realism to take over. Lim’s descriptions are poetic, her writing lyrical. The book was a delightful read full of mouth-watering recipes that made me wish I had my own personal chef.
In the end, I have only one question. Who cleans Natalie’s kitchen after all that meal preparation?