Taste Like War

Tastes Like War: A Memoir

The Feminist Press at CUNY
May 18, 2021
May 14, 2023 May 17, 2023

Grace M. Cho grew up as the daughter of a white American merchant marine and the Korean bar hostess he met abroad. They were one of few immigrants in a xenophobic small town during the Cold War, where identity was politicized by everyday details—language, cultural references, memories, and food. When Grace was fifteen, her dynamic mother experienced the onset of schizophrenia, a condition that would continue and evolve for the rest of her life.

Part food memoir, part sociological investigation, Tastes Like War is a hybrid text about a daughter’s search through intimate and global history for the roots of her mother’s schizophrenia. In her mother’s final years, Grace learned to cook dishes from her parent’s childhood in order to invite the past into the present, and to hold space for her mother’s multiple voices at the table. And through careful listening over these shared meals, Grace discovered not only the things that broke the brilliant, complicated woman who raised her—but also the things that kept her alive.


About the book

Memoir of a Korean-American who tells her story, but above all of her mother and how her (mother’s) life contributed to her illness.

What I think

The book was very enlightening. And I have to say that there’s still a lot I don’t know about the post-war years and how the Americans ruined a lot of people’s lives. Unfortunately when I read these kinds of books, I find that I hate the United States of America more and more. For heaven’s sake, not all Americans are like that but unfortunately most of that nationality puts themselves too much on the pedestal that covers those few voices that denounce such people.

I liked the book though, it just left me with a few questions so I gave it 4 stars instead of 5.

I read this book because on libby it was part of a reading group (Big Library Read) and therefore there were endless copies to borrow, but I’m glad I discovered this part of the story that I didn’t know yet.

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