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Food Was Her Country

The Memoir of a Queer Daughter

Marusya Bociurkiw

How can a god-fearing Catholic, immigrant mother and her godless, bohemian daughter possibly find common ground? Food Was Her Country is the story of a mother, her queer daughter and their tempestuous culinary relationship. From accounts of 1970s’ macrobiotic potlucks to a dangerous mother-daughter road trip in search of lunch, this book is funny, dark and tender in turn.

Bociurkiw’s Ukraine-born mother is a devotee of the Food Channel and a consummate cook. When she gets cancer of the larynx, she must learn how to eat and speak all over again. Her daughter learns how to feed her mother, but, more crucially, how to let her mother feed her. Food Was Her Country explores a daughter’s journey of grieving and reconciliation, uncovering the truth of her relationship with her mother only after her death.

Marusya Bociurkiw’s Comfort Food for Breakups: The Memoir of a Hungry Girl was a food writing phenomenon: the world’s first LGBTQ food memoir. With this long-awaited follow-up, Food Was Her Country draws upon a queer archive of art and activism, stories from her popular food blog, Recipes for Trouble, as well as social histories of food, evoking new beginnings and fresh ways of tasting the world.

“An absorbing reminiscence that’s sad and consistently regretful — and yet a delight to read — Bociurkiw’s companion volume to Comfort Food for Breakups, her 2007 memoir, meditates on and interweaves family, migration, rejection, history, and loss.”
—Brett Grubisic, The Toronto Star

“An un-put-down-able memoir! Daughter Marusya and mother Vera carry food while traversing ‘spaces large as continents’ between them—to find love, grief and love again.”
—Cynthia Flood, author of What Can You Do

“Emblematic of a specific Canadian generation: a child of immigrants finds feminism and lesbian life pulling her far from her family’s expectations and demands. Yet, in this moving memoir, Marusya Bociurkiw reveals how both mother and daughter fought for a relationship on new terms, where both could retain their autonomy without controlling the other’s life. The author’s discoveries are illuminating for the reader, and articulate possibilities of understanding with individuation, rarely imagined or realized.”
—Sarah Schulman, author of Conflict Is Not Abuse.

“It’s a joy to witness Bociurkiw’s funny, self-deprecating, deeply loving elegy for her mother, Vera. Her mother is her muse, and the memoir runs chronologically from her mother’s early homophobic distance to her fond old age. Bociurkiw’s crisp, buttery phrases are as delicious as the dishes that she inherits.”
—Elisha Lim, author of 100 Crushes

“Sharp, tender and affecting, these stories of food and family—and politics and secrets and silence and speech and forgiveness and love—accrue into a powerful whole that left me sad, yearning and satisfied all at once. ”
—Anne Fleming, author of poemw.

Food Was Her Country is a tenderly crafted story about complex relationships and histories. In it, lives come together across the dinner table, where meals—and more—are shared.”
—Mya Alexice, Foreword Reviews