Love & Hunger
Allen & Unwin
Read from my local library
I’ve talked before on my blog here about how I don’t really like cooking that much. I like the idea of cooking. I like finding things that I’d like to eat and cutting the recipes out of magazines, or whatever, for a rainy day. I buy cookbooks. But when it comes down to it, I don’t really like the creation process of cooking, especially with 2 young children underfoot. My husband works nights and I find the time between say 5-8pm the most difficult to get things done. The kids are bored, they’re hungry for their own dinner, they’re demanding attention. And I really hate the mess that cooking makes. Ok, the mess that I make when I’m cooking.
Luckily my husband pretty much loves to cook. Since I moved in with him nearly 7 years ago, I haven’t cooked more than probably a dozen or so times. I bake things, like cakes, biscuits, banana bread etc. But cooking a full meal? That’s his job. I just provide the inspiration. He eats everything so whatever I tell him I feel like, is what we eat.
It’s clear that my feeling on cooking and preparing food is almost borderline opposite to Charlotte Wood’s. An Australian author of such books as Animal People and The Children, this book Love & Hunger is part memoir and part homage to her love of produce and preparing it. It’s filled with simple recipes and handy tips like her idea of staples for any cupboard, fridge or freezer. In all honestly, Wood’s attitude towards food and cooking it is, in an ideal world, the one that I’d like to have myself. The passion and enthusiasm she has for good, local and fresh produce shines off the page and she infuses beautiful memories of her childhood and the people in it and how so many things revolve around food. Whenever anyone was sick, or had passed on, there were plenty of people who gathered around to provide nourishing meals for the family, a strengthening of friendship ties by a simple gesture to let the family know they were cared about and being thought of. So much of our lives revolves around food and the consumption of it that it’s possible to tie it into just about every major event in our lives and many minor ones. Be they good or bad, I carry so many food memories and the mere mention of some foods can have me desperate for another taste or in the case of beef stroganoff or chicken teriyaki, looking around for the nearest bathroom. Vivid memories of food poisoning courtesy of those two in my university dining hall will never leave me. I cannot see myself ever trying to eat any of those meals ever again.
I have to admit, I have relatively simple food tastes. I’m definitely never going to be the type to go to the latest Michelin starred restaurant and book some 12 course gastronomic feast. I’m virtually un-Australian because I don’t eat seafood at all. Even though I love looking through cookbooks, to be honest, a large portion of them I skim over because they do feature food I’d never eat. Whilst this book also features recipes for meals I probably wouldn’t eat (such as the sardines!) it’s the beautiful collection of stories that is contained within it that sticks in my mind. Wood has a fantastic conversational style of writing, like you’re two people sitting down to have a chat and she’s simply telling you a few anecdotes. People in these stories come to life – they’re all people that we ourselves might know, stories that everyone can relate to and bring up a reader’s own memories. This book was a celebration of love, family, relationships and friendships as much as it was an admiration and devotion to food cooked well and prepared simply. Wood herself admits she doesn’t “plate up”, a new fad since Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules rocketed to the top of the TV ratings lists. Now everyone wants to serve up their dinner like they’re at a hatted restaurant. Wood’s simple back to basics, all about the food dishes are diverse in ranges of difficulty but none of them really seem utterly too daunting for even someone like me to attempt.
I’m going to pass this one along to my husband for him to enjoy as well. It’s the type of book where a wide variety of people can get such a pleasurable experience out of it, whether you are passionate about cooking and food or not. And I definitely think that there’s a few things in there that will help us be more efficient with the food we do buy and with stocking our cupboards.
Book #35 of 2013
Love & Hunger is the 16th novel read for AWW2013 and my first non-fiction for the challenge.