“In the sensuality of eating, the nose teases and the mouth consummates. The intensity of the dinner’s aroma is playing havoc with my senses, as so many smalls have lately, and I’m transported.”
This quote is used by the author very early in the book to describe how he feels in the kitchen of his own home while unable to eat anything. Jon Reiner has Crohn’s disease and has been in and out of the hospital with the disease for over 20 years. Often his bouts end in an NPO - nothing by mouth, which means he cannot eat or drink anything. All nutrition is pumped through IVs and catheters.
Reiner’s ability to describe a scene or a dish or an event is miraculous - he is vivid and funny in describing the Hell he lives and how he tries to reclaim the life he once new - the life he desperately wants back. Readers will find themselves almost able to taste the food items he writes of in his memoir. Reiner shows that food and eating is so much more to us than nutrition. Whether right, wrong, or indifferent we all associate memories, experiences, moods, and many other things with eating. Imagine having all of that completely removed. Imagine being so sick you’re not sure you’ll make it to the next day. Imagine losing your job. Imagine your life completely changed in one moment. Imagine.
Reiner starts readers on this journey by describing a gut wrenching medical emergency he experiences while alone at home. Unable to understand what has happened or what caused it, and how he’s going to get help, the memoir jumps off at a gripping pace. Through his trials Jon is frustrated, angry, scared, and gripped with the cravings of food - I think one of the best parts about this memoir is it isn’t a, “look what I faced and how awesome I faced it - look at what I conquered” type of book. Reiner is honest - he loses his taste buds to atrophy and that makes him angry. He goes without food for several months, but continues to crave and come close to cheating. He struggles with depression and anger and his marriage suffers great difficulty. Jon doesn’t sugar coat his journey and he doesn’t try to claim perfection - I loved that.
Whether you love food or not. Whether you have Crohn’s, another medical issue, or none at all, whether you’ve had marriage problems or not - no matter who you are, this book will give you some things to ponder. See Reiner isn’t just displaying a food addict’s journey without food, he’s addressing change - sudden, unexpected, life-altering change and the pitfalls that come with that change.