|Miriam Green, author of The Lost Kitchen|
and I finally met in person
Alzheimer’s and/or one (or more) of the more difficult to diagnose/name dementias dominated both my parents' final years, so I'm neither objective nor inexperienced when it comes to the topic.
The Lost Kitchen is a brilliant way of titling the blog, book and Miriam's mother, Naomi. One of the first skills many people lose is caring for themselves, knowing what to shop for, remembering to turn off the stove, prepare food and even remembering to eat.
Green's book opens with her mother's diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. I was really spooked by the fact that her mother was younger than I am now. We're spared the difficult period before that made them suspect that something was very wrong and getting worse. The focus of The Lost Kitchen is how Jack, her father, and Miriam deal with the constant deterioration, challenges and dilemmas of Naomi's Alzheimer’s. Miriam's original idea was to write a cookbook chronicling Jack's unplanned introduction to cooking and the recipes he has adopted for himself as cook.
Even though I'm a loyal follower of the The Lost Kitchen blog, I found reading the book to be a new experience. I wasn't bored. The Lost Kitchen book isn't a simple compilation of the blog. Besides recipes, there are poems. If you like the blog, you'll love the book. And if you've never read the blog you'll find the book a wonderful loving memoir following the gradual loss of a loving mother.
The Lost Kitchen begins after the diagnosis, when Jack is still able to care for Naomi. At first he manages with Miriam's weekly visits, but then as the Alzheimer’s gets worse, it's clear he needs more help and then even more. Their story is honestly and sensitively told by Miriam.
Dealing with Alzheimer’s seems to be a growing genre as people live longer, and their bodies outlive their cognitive abilities. I reviewed My Mom My Hero by Lisa Hirsch a few years ago, which was written by a childhood friend. Last I heard, her mother is still alive.
I recommend reading The Lost Kitchen, whether you've had to deal with a loved one's Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia or not. After a half a century in Israel, I sometimes forget that there's a whole other world out there in other countries, and life can be very different. The Lost Kitchen is also a Jewish Israeli story, because the assistance, facilities, society and health care system are probably specific to Israel. Of course the family dynamics and dementia itself, no matter what the specific diagnosis are international. Dementia can happen to anyone, anyplace and any age, due to all sorts of causes.
Miriam Green has written a valuable and unique book, a universal story. As a bonus you get a cookbook, which is valuable on its own. Unlike many cookbooks, this one has easy to follow recipes, without too many exotic, hard to find ingredients. The poems add a gentle touch. Yes, if I haven't been clear, I highly recommend buying The Lost Kitchen for yourself or as a gift for others.