Danika reviews Licking the Spoon: A Memoir of Food, Family and Identity by Candace Walsh


One of the first books I reviewed for the Lesbrary was Dear John, I Love Jane edited by Candace Walsh and Laura Andre. I loved that book, both for the topic (complicating sexual orientation? Yes please) and the quality of the stories. So when I saw that one of the editors had written a memoir, I was excited to see if it lived up to the enthusiasm I had for Dear John, I Love Jane. I was not disappointed. I haven’t read any other food memoirs or food writing (… I don’t even know what the genre is called!), so I’m not sure how Licking the Spoon compares to the usual fare. The book isn’t about food as much as food is an ongoing theme; it adds a layer through which to interpret Walsh’s life, because her food choices reflect something about the way her life is going, whether she’s cooking up gourmet feasts or pennies-per-serving pea soup or frozen dinners.

Most importantly, I loved Walsh’s writing style. It flows well and kept me engaged regardless of what was being described. It’s funny, because Walsh describes being disappointed by her mother’s embellished stories about her family, but Licking the Spoon has such detailed, rich stories about her own life and previous generations’ lives that they can’t possibly be just the facts. Either way, it made it an absorbing read that I really enjoyed, and Walsh definitely has a life story worth telling.

I couldn’t find anything on the book itself that hints to queer content (though the Amazon description does), which I found interesting. The first chapter plays the pronoun game with her love interest. The queer content is introduced slowly, from hints in her childhood through dissatisfaction with her (heterosexual) marriage. I am always divided on this, because on the one hand, that makes it difficult for queer people to be able to find this book unless they’re researching online. On the other hand, I love the idea that straight readers could unknowingly pick this book up. It doesn’t categorize itself as only a queer book, and it isn’t! The memoir is much more about Walsh’s relationship with food, her family, and herself than it is about being queer. And it looks like this strategy was successful, because the Amazon ratings on this book are ridiculously high: of 39 reviews, 36 are five star and 3 are four star.

Whether you’re a foodie or a fan of lesbian memoirs, or you just like good writing telling a story well, I would definitely recommend Licking the Spoon and I hope to read more from Candace Walsh!