Cherries in Winter: My Family’s Recipe for Hope in Hard Times
by Suzan Colon
When Suzan Colon was laid off from her job in 2008, she began a lifestyle shift toward thrift and economy. One of the first things to go is eating out at restaurants, and as Colon starts to expand her cooking repertoire she looks to the foods of her childhood, recorded by her mother and grandmother in a file of typed and handwritten recipes. As she revisits each recipe, posting it at the beginning of each chapter, the stories of the women in her family pour out. Her grandmother, a clever woman who provided for her family during the Great Depression and secretly wished to be a writer, provides lifestyle tips, advice and humor on the margins of her recipes. Whenever Colon’s life threatens to overwhelm her, a well-chosen recipe and memory of her beloved Nana seems just the solace she needs.
Sometimes the narrative would be difficult to follow from one chapter to the next. The memories are recorded as they occur, so the transitions from one to the next can be very random and sudden. A family tree at the beginning of the book helped me keep track of the generations, but it was still confusing at times which woman was the older or the younger.
The blend of cookbook and memoir is a very comforting combination. Colon is slowly returning to her roots as the chapters of Cherries in Winter progress, and finding peace in the reduced circumstances her unemployment offers. She doesn’t really offer much in the way of advice for coping with our current recession, only a chronicle of how it changed her life. The one constant throughout the book is hope, and it continues even beyond the bittersweet ending.