The Measure of My Powers:
A Memoir of Food, Misery, and Paris
by Jackie Kai Ellis
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, and 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 every 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. It was the place where Jackie escaped, finding peace, comfort, and acceptance.
This is the story of how, armed with nothing but a love of food and the words of the great 20th century food writer 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 life and joy.
Told with insight and intimacy, and radiating with warmth and humor, The Measure of My Powers is an unforgettable experience of the senses.