Verdict: COOK YOUR WAY TO LOVE & HARMONY combines a nuanced appreciation of the delicate nature of familial relationships with an upbeat epicurean sensibility, creating a fast, easy, and fun read.
A first person memoir about the healing properties of home cooking and a strong family life, written from the perspective of a newly married man navigating his relationship and the heart-wrenching difficulties of aging parents.
Author Agus Ekanurdi opens this charmingly illustrated memoir with a story about his father cooking for him as a method of imparting love. This is crucial to setting up the rest of the story, which follows Ekanurdi as he meets the love of his life at a movie screening and relatively soon after marries her. His life with his new bride is far more fraught than he expects; he buys things he can’t afford on credit cards in order to keep her happy and tries to cook his signature dishes for her, but their relationship begins to run into trouble as communication between them becomes contentious. In her opinion, his food is okay, but not great. It’s only when Ekanurdi realizes that he has to really talk and listen to his wife, and in so doing, tailor his cooking to meet her needs, that their love gets back on course. Ekanurdi realizes a successful marriage isn’t about avoiding fights, but rather learning to work through conflict. As a friend tells him, “‘Your relationship is only going downhill when you fight again and again over the same things.'” When Ekanurdi’s father takes ill, Ekanurdi reflects on the nature of all of his relationships, and finds solace in the power of preparing food. Cooking isn’t just about the ingredients; it’s the process that counts. The straightforward prose style is aided by the seamless integration of the color sketches throughout the text, creating a kind of picture book for adults. The pacing of these drawings alleviates any boredom the reader might have with Ekanurdi’s linear narrative: the joy of the work is not in any particular structural conceit, but rather the slow yet steady unfurling of a common problem, and its subsequent resolution.
COOK YOUR WAY TO LOVE & HARMONY combines a nuanced appreciation of the delicate nature of familial relationships with an upbeat epicurean sensibility, creating a fast, easy, and fun read.