Jen Larsen is having a good spring. Her new book, Stranger Here: How Weight-Loss Surgery Transformed My Body and Messed with My Head has just been published by Seal Press to outstanding reviews. It was the lead review in the national print glossy, People and Kirkus writes that “raw vulnerability and rigorous emotional honesty make this weight-loss memoir compelling and memorable.” You should buy it, right after you buy Cassoulet, Better yet, you can buy them at the same time.
Stranger Here she tells the story of Larsen’s weight-loss surgery and the psychological, emotional, and physical turmoil that accompanied it. As she put it in an interview, the story is really about how a person struggles to make sense of things when her inside image of herself doesn’t match what the world outside sees. This inside/outside mismatch was a challenge before and after the surgery, and Larsen’s honest refusal to equate size and happiness upends the story you expect to be reading.
The book is beautiful and brilliant and very, very funny. Jen’s voice is inimitable, her point of view fresh and surprising. It’s sheer delight to spend a few hours in the company of her prose. As soon as I put the book down, I was impatient for her to write the next one.
One of the more interesting things about Stranger Here is that there’s not that much in it about food. For a narrative focused on weight, there’s surprisingly little about actually eating. So we are grateful and fortunate to offer you that piece of the story in Cassoulet.
“Food Hater” is about how Larsen learned to eat after weight-loss surgery, and what her mother and, especially, her chef-brother had to do with it. Also she gives us a life-changing, terrific recipe for Chef Ken’s Chicken Milanese, which my kids adore, and yours probably will, too.