On a sunny morning in May 2005, foreign correspondent Matt McAllester's mother, Ann, died unexpectedly of a heart attack, and despite having spent six years reporting on death and devastation from the world's most brutal war zones, he was pole-axed by grief. Pole-axed, and also astonished to be grieving for a woman who had been largely absent from his life, lost for two-and-a-half decades in her private world of madness. In the weeks and months that followed, Matt found himself poring over old family photos and letters, searching for the warm, quick-witted and beautiful woman he remembered from his earliest childhood, who had now vanished for the second time. But as he looked anew at her long-cherished collection of cookbooks, it occurred to him that the best way to find her again might be through something they both treasured: the food she had once lovingly prepared for her family before she was snatched away from them by illness.
With the help of Elizabeth David, the cookery writer his mother most revered, Matt embarked on a culinary journey, returning from the front lines to cook Ann's much-loved recipes: from cassoulet, to spare ribs, to steak with Bordelaise sauce, to oeufs en cocotte, to strawberry ice cream - the source of one of his happiest memories. And for the first time he had someone to prepare these dishes for: his new wife, with whom he was trying to conceive a child. "Bittersweet" is McAllester's poignant account of rediscovering his mother's life, coming to terms with her death, and travelling towards a new future as a father. Powerful, affecting and interspersed with mouth-watering recipes, it is a moving testament to the healing power of cooking for those you love.
Matt McAllester is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was a correspondent for Newsday for thirteen years before returning to London. He now lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Pernilla, and son Harry. Winner of a number of awards, including the Osborn Elliott Award for Excellence for his coverage of Nepal in 2006 and several overseas Press Club citations for his international reporting, he is currently a contributing editor at Details.