Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking & Coping
by Laura Zinn Fromm

Greenpoint Press, 2014. ISBN 978-0-990-61949-9.
Reviewed by Khadijah A.
Posted on 01/19/2015

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Food/Cooking/Kitchen

As soon as I read Sweet Survival described as two parts memoir and one part cookbook, I knew I had to read it for myself. Having read some of Laura Zinn Fromm's pieces on Huffington Post, I was fully prepared to like it, but I was surprised by just how enjoyable this book was.

Fromm's essays are all about family, friends, and food. Her take on life is original and inspiring, as she navigates through heady ups and dizzying downs that would have paralyzed many people. She does so with a wit, humor, and perception that uplifts while never cheapening or belying the truth behind her experience. Fromm's life and stories are very different from mine, yet again and again she touches a universal chord in her writing, centered on the importance of the people in our lives, the food we eat, and how the two meet, repeatedly and with varied results.

I was pleasantly surprised by the recipes in the book, which in general are accessible and interesting. I have to admit that the first one I made was for Magic Cookie Bars. My mom never made these for us, for whatever reason, but I remember being thrilled when I saw them on the table at a potluck. They were as good as I remembered, and my children absolutely loved them.

Having recently gone gluten-free, I was happy to see, I kid you not, Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies. They are next on my list, and then I think I'll try some of the entrees, like Jalapeño Chicken. Admittedly, some of the recipes, like one for roast duck, will probably never get made, but I loved hearing the stories associated with them just the same. In Sweet Survival, Fromm joins memoir and food seamlessly, just as they come together in life.

Laura Zinn Fromm holds a BA from Wellesley College and an MFA in fiction writing from Columbia University and teaches fiction and creative non-fiction through New York Writers Workshop. A former editor at Business Week magazine, she is a winner of the Clarion Award and the Newspaper Guild's Page One Award for Labor Reporting. Visit her website.

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