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Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. On page 17 of Stir, Fechtor writes that “food is the keeper of our memories, connecting us with our pasts and with our people.” How does this statement apply to your own experiences cooking and baking? Which foods evoke the strongest memories for you?

2. Stir is an incredibly intimate book, wherein Fechtor reveals the peaks and valleys of recovery after a near-death experience. After reading, how would you characterize Fechtor? Which anecdotes in the book were most impactful to you?

3. Fechtor’s road to recovery is as much a mental journey as it is a physical one. Discuss the challenges she faced in assuming the role of “patient.” During which moments of her recovery did she experience the most frustration? Elation?

4. Fechtor integrates anecdotes about her personal journey alongside meaningful recipes that relate to the content of each chapter. How did this impact your reading experience? Which recipes were you most drawn to?

5. In Chapter 2, Fechtor asserts that “getting well means finding your everyday.” Which aspects of Fechtor’s everyday came back first? Which elements of her daily life took longest to resurface?

6. Fechtor’s relationship with her husband plays an important role in the narrative. Discuss their courtship. How would you characterize their relationship? Which moments of their lovestory stick with you?

7. Stir is full of delightfully descriptive scenes of Fechtor in the kitchen. How does the act of cooking physically reconnect
Fechtor to her body? What adjustments does she make during her recovery process in order to return to the kitchen? What meal would you consider her “breakthrough” meal, when she realizes that her passion for cooking and baking is more than just a hobby?

8. Discuss the importance of community in Fechtor’s journey ofrecovery. How did her friends and family help her reestablisha sense of normalcy in her life?

9. In Chapter 23, Fechtor discusses the art of hosting, revealing that there is “no such divide” between the words guest and host in other languages. Discuss the significance of this statement. How does Fechtor’s recovery change her perception of hosting? From Fechtor’s perspective, what characteristics make for a gracious host? Guest?

10. Discuss Fechtor’s creation of Sweet Amandine. How does blogging act as an outlet for her to escape the confines of her illness? What does she learn from the act of sharing recipes and experiences online?

11. In the latter chapters, Fechtor reveals her dificulty accepting the idea of reconstructive surgery. What causes Fechtor to reconsiderher stance on it? How does the tension between being externally “fine” and internally “fine” play out throughout the pages? 

12. Discuss the connection between senses and memory. How does Fechtor’s loss of her sense of smell affect her as she recovers?Which scents evoke memories for you?

13. Jessica and Eli’s determination to become parents is an important thread in the narrative. What anxieties or fears does she have about motherhood? How do the matriarchs in her life—her mother, her grandmothers, and Amy—shape her idea of what motherhood is and can be?

14. Discuss the significance of Jessica and Eli’s trip to Berlin. How does this trip act as a sort of liberation for Fechtor?

15. On page 156, Fechtor asserts that “home is a verb.” Explore the significance of that statement. How does Fechtor define home? How does the act of cooking become tied into the idea of “home” inasmuch as physical objects do?

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