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A splendid exploration of how true passions color our life experiences everyday, Chicago-based architect Susan Uehara Rakstang’s memoir Cooking for Her Eyes: Transcription of a Sonata tells a story of life and death, friendship and family—all through the lens of the author’s life-long relationships to music, food, and art.
- Rakstang, Susan Uehara (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
Susan Rakstang’s memoir recalls her early life as the child of Japanese American parents and her mother’s cooking lessons full of delicious tastes, exquisite fragrances, and the visual art of preparing food; through her fast-paced, frenzied years in a battle with time juggling her responsibilities as a wife, mother of two children, and working outside the home as an architect—a pioneering path not often pursued by women in the mid-1970s—and then after retirement, when life suddenly takes a dark turn. Susan’s beloved mother suffers a stroke and her friend Margaret, a pastry chef, receives a terrifying diagnosis of stage-four cancer of the tongue. With both women’s lives hanging perilously in the balance, Susan spends her days and evenings alternately tending to each. Learning Margaret’s cancer treatment will cause horrific pain and temporary loss of taste, Susan develops a pureed food preparation technique for her friend’s meals, focusing on the natural, visual beauty of food, and cooks for Margaret’s eyes.
Blending the detail and precision of an architect with the color, tempo, and texture of her classical music roots, Susan beckons her readers to embrace their senses as she takes them on her journey of music, food, love, and death in Cooking for Her Eyes (Quarter Rest Publications; October 1, 2022). Organizing her story as Beethoven structured his Sonata No. 8, she transcribes her anxiety, passion, joy, sorrow, and resolution as the maestro expressed in his sonata.
Susan entered the male dominated world of architecture in the 1970s as a mother of two and eventually started her own architecture firm. Now retired, she lives in Chicago’s West Loop with her husband, Bob, and their cockapoo, Tony.
Susan’s memoir Cooking for Her Eyes is her first book and was inspired by her upbringing as well as her experiences with food, art, and music throughout her life, especially when she found herself caring for both her ailing mother and for a dear friend who developed tongue cancer. You can find recipes and more information about the book at cookingforhereyes.com