What makes a family? Where do we find our sustenance? Jessica Soffer examines the often debated questions with artful storytelling. She calls on all of our senses to consider the age old issue of nature vs. nurture. But food, laden with history and culture, the legendary path to the heart, is the medium. Mix in a very needy cast of characters and the recipe for a good tale is perfected.
Enter Lorca, a troubled teen; her single mom, a chef, angry and inattentive; Victoria and Joseph, Iraqi Jews, determined immigrants with a long-kept painful secret; an imposing neighbor, and a sensitive, caring young man. All share an intense yearning for love, acceptance, and forgiveness. While it is predictable they would become connected, living in the melting pot of the world, just a few Manhattan subway stops apart, the plot never succumbs into the most obvious small world story of the century!
Instead, we are witness to serious and poignant back stories. At the center is Lorca, a self-mutilator, ironically named for poet Garcia Lorca, whose themes addressed love and tragedy. We bleed with her through every cut and self-inflicted pain. It is sadly understandable when she tells us, “there were good years and bad years. My mother was warm in flickers and then very cold. All the while, I waited. Hope was lit and hope was extinguished incessantly. On and off. On and off.” Lorca steadfastly seeks her mother’s affection through the one thing they share: an appreciation of excellent food. Her quest for the miracle leads to all the others and hope is lit up again.
With every measure of wonderful, aromatic food, prepared with essential ingredients, and a lifetime of memories, we await the return of family and love withheld or lost. Then we begin to understand the Arabic saying “tomorrow there will be apricots.”