A love story to life plus scrumptious recipes
If you want to imagine how M.F.K. Fisher might write in the days of climate change, read Ellen Kanner. Feeding the Hungry Ghost is in the tradition of my favorite books about food: a little about love, a lot personal, and full of recipes I can’t wait to cook. It’s laugh-out-loud funny and full of wise insights, a combination few authors can pull off. I want to give copies of this deeply enjoyable book to all my friends who need a little perking up or something yummy for dinner (that would be about 95% of my friends).
Let’s start with the food. I’ve noted about 80% of the recipes as “try soon,” including Ful Mudammas; Zucchini Bread; Kamut for Mother Earth; Farrotto with Greens, Pine Nuts, and Currants; Roasted Beet Salad with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette; and No-Knead Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread. I have already made the Vegan Chocolate Cake, which was very easy to make, light, and tender. Her directions are clear and friendly, like these from West Indian Mango Madness: “No need to wipe out the pan” and “Add your lovely chopped greens.”
Ellen inspires us to cook seasonally and low on the food chain with insights like this: “You’re a busy person. I can save you time: act and eat mindfully.” “Eating out of season is like living in a foreign country without understanding the language.” “Luster is the best reason to eat what’s ripe now.”
The structure of the book helps you dip in just where you need to. Ellen takes you through the cycle of life, from the Seed and the Flowering through to the Harvest to the Compost. Along the way, she shares thoughts on a wide range of spiritual topics without ever haranguing the reader to follow a particular religious path. I love her escape from Sunday School and the section comparing St. Lucia’s Day with the Hindu festival of lights: Diwali. Ellen makes a very sensible suggestion: “We could all have one big holiday, all of us.”
Brighten up your life and your plate. Get Feeding the Hungry Ghost and invite friends over to share a lustrous meal.