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Initial Thoughts: Recently, I have been trying to read books I wouldn’t normally read, especially non-fiction. It is easy, for me, to just read novels without even touching a non-fiction book. The Measure of My Powers: A Memoir of Food, Misery and Paris was my way of challenging myself to get out of my (reading) comfort zone. [I ended up winning a free advanced copy of this book from the Goodreads giveaway.]

 

Summary

A story about one woman’s search for self-love, experienced through food and travel.The Measure of My Powers: A Memoir of Food, Misery and Paris

On the surface, Jackie Kai Ellis’s life was the one that every woman–herself included–wanted: she was in her late twenties and married to a handsome man, she had a successful career as a designer, a home that she shared with her husband. But instead of feeling fulfilled, happy, and loved, each morning she’d wake up dreading the day ahead, searching for a way out. Depression clouded each moment, the feelings of inadequacy that had begun in childhood now consumed her, and her marriage was slowly transforming into one between two strangers: unfamiliar, childless, and empty. In this darkness, she could only find one source of light: the kitchen. Inspired by the great 20th century female food writer M.F.K. Fisher’s works, it was the place Jackie escaped into herself, finding life, peace, comfort, and acceptance.

This is the story of how, armed with nothing but a love of food and the words of M.F.K. Fisher, one woman begins a journey–from France to Italy, then the Congo and back again–to find herself. Along the way, she goes to pastry school in Paris, eats the most perfect apricots over the Tuscan hills, watches a family of gorillas grazing deep in the Congolese brush, has her heart broken one last time on a bridge in Lyon, and, ultimately, finds a path to joy. Told with insight and intimacy, and radiating with warmth and humour, The Measure of My Powers is an unforgettable experience of the senses.

The Review

The Measure of My Powers is a memoir of Jackie Kai Ellis, the founder of Beaucoup Bakery & Café in Vancouver, British Colombia in 2012.  Beaucoup Bakery features French style pastries, including croissants (their staple item), cinnamon scrolls, chausson aux pommes, and more. After reading this memoir, I took a virtual journey to Beaucoup Bakery’s website, and my mouth began to water. Suddenly, I became very hungry for croissants. I was surprised to learn that Jakie Kai Ellis, as of 2017, no longer owns Beaucoup Bakery. Instead, according to my research, she is focusing on The Paris Tours, a 3-4 hour walking tour of the culinary experience in Paris.

The Measure of My Powers is a deliciously aesthetic memoir of self-discovery and food. From a young age, Jackie Kai Ellis had a passion for cooking. She knew how a perfect dessert should taste, and eventually, she developed the perfect recipe for croissants and other baking delights. After struggling with depression and a divorce, Jackie Kai Ellis developed Beaucoup Bakery in Vancouver.
As an amateur baker myself, I savoured the details of her trips to Paris, and perused the recipes at the end of each section. Honestly, if you’re not hungry once you start reading this book, you will be once you begin reading.
Of course, one of the most dominant parts of this memoir is the “misery” component. I was expecting for the memoir to get happier near the end, but it was a bit of a drag. However, I appreciate her candor in detailing her real experiences. I suppose misery can make success taste sweeter.

The overall structure of the memoir is a bit confusing. I spent a lot of time trying to establish a mental timeline in my head. Instead of ordering the events of her life in chronological order, Jakie Kai Ellis groups memories in clusters. One moment, you could be reading about her childhood, then her divorce, then during her marriage. I know I am used to reading fiction where most events are in chronological order, but it was a little too disorderedly for me. The overall story and snippets of memories did shine through once I reached the ending, but I still remain confused.
I would recommend this book to those who have a passion for cooking. If the memoir is too depressing, the recipes are surely a delight. I can’t wait to try to make my own carrot cake!

Final Rating:

A B
About the Book

Title: The Measure of My Powers: A Memoir of Food, Misery and Paris
Author: Jackie Kai Ellis
Year Published: 2018
Genres & Subjects: Non fiction, memoir, cooking,

Links

Author’s Website | Goodreads | Instagram | The Paris Tours | Beaucoup Bakery

Where to Buy…

Indigo (Heather’s Pick)

Amazon (Canada)

Amazon (United States)

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

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Until Next Time, 

-Alice

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