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BOOK REVIEW: Love & Hunger: Thoughts on the Gift of Food by Charlotte Wood –

Wednesday, July 18, 2018


The Blurb (From Goodreads):

The award-winning author of The Children and Animal People, explores the solitary and shared pleasures of cooking and eating in an ode to good food, prepared and presented with minimum fuss and maximum love.

'What's important is the fact of eating together - the gathering at the table, the conviviality.'

Love & Hunger is a distillation of everything Charlotte Wood has learned over more than twenty years about cooking and the pleasures of simple food well made. In this age of gastro-porn and the fetishisation of food, the pressure to be as expert as the chefs we've turned into celebrities can feel overwhelming.

An instant antidote to such madness is this wise and practical book - an ode to good food, prepared and presented with minimum fuss and maximum love.

Cooking represents 'creativity in its purest form'. It is meditation and stimulation, celebration and solace, a gift both offered and received. It can nourish the soul - and the mind - as well as the body. Love & Hunger will make you long to get into the kitchen to try the surprising tips and delicious recipes, and will leave you feeling freshly inspired to cook with joy for the people you love. Love & Hunger is a gift for all who value the solitary and shared pleasures of cooking and eating. Like a simple but glorious meal, this feast of a book is infused with warmth and generosity.

Acclaimed and award-winning novelist Charlotte Wood also writes the popular cookery blog How to Shuck an Oyster and is a brilliant home cook and food enthusiast. An invitation to dinner at Charlotte's house is always cause for celebration.

My Thoughts:

Charlotte Wood is best known as the Stella-award-winning author of The Natural Way of Things, but she is also a brilliant cook and food writer. For quite a few years, she wrote a food blog called ‘How to Shuck an Oyster’ in which philosophical musings on the importance of food and eating were mixed with helpful tips on how to be a better cook.

Love & Hunger grew out of this blog, and is a warm, wise, personal and practical collection of essays, recipes and cooking advice. Charlotte shares her own discovery of the art of cooking, gives guidance on how to be a good host, offers shrewd insights into the causes of picky eating, mediates on the fear of death in the disgust of offal, and brings me to tears discussing the best way to cook for people who are ill and dying.

I love to cook myself, and relish reading books about food and cooking. It is rare, however, to find one written with such intelligence, sensitivity, and skill. There is not a sentence in the whole book that is not beautifully constructed, and not an essay which does not enlighten and inspire. Love & Hunger is a book to be read in a single gulp, and then returned to again and again for savouring.

For another great food-inspired read, check out my review of Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard.

Please leave a comment, I love to hear your thoughts.


Monday, December 14, 2015


The bestselling author of Lunch in Paris takes us on another delicious journey, this time to the heart of Provence. 

Ten years ago, New Yorker Elizabeth Bard followed a handsome Frenchman up a spiral staircase to a love nest in the heart of Paris. Now, with a baby on the way and the world's flakiest croissant around the corner, Elizabeth is sure she's found her "forever place." But life has other plans. 

On a last romantic jaunt before the baby arrives, the couple take a trip to the tiny Provencal village of Céreste. A chance encounter leads them to the wartime home of a famous poet, a tale of a buried manuscript and a garden full of heirloom roses. Under the spell of the house and its unique history, in less time than it takes to flip a crepe, Elizabeth and Gwendal decide to move-lock, stock and Le Creuset-to the French countryside.

When the couple and their newborn son arrive in Provence, they discover a land of blue skies, lavender fields and peaches that taste like sunshine. Seduced by the local ingredients, they begin a new adventure as culinary entrepreneurs, starting their own artisanal ice cream shop and experimenting with flavors like saffron, sheep's milk yogurt and fruity olive oil. 

Filled with enticing recipes for stuffed zucchini flowers, fig tart and honey & thyme ice cream, Picnic in Provence is the story of everything that happens after the happily ever after: an American learning the tricks of French motherhood, a family finding a new professional passion, and a cook's initiation into classic Provencal cuisine. With wit, humor and scoop of wild strawberry sorbet, Bard reminds us that life-in and out of the kitchen-is a rendez-vous with the unexpected.


Picnic In Provence is a memoir of a Jewish American princess who marries a Frenchman, and moves to Provence to make honey & thyme ice-cream, among other wonderful dishes. Charming , romantic and poignant, this book is full of delicious-sounding recipes and lots of wry observations on the cultural differences between the two countries (fast food, wearing sweatpants in public, and the like). It made me want to move to Provence and cook stuffed zucchini flowers and fig tarts drizzled with lavender honey, always the sign of a good food memoir. I’ve since cooked quite a few of the recipes – délicieux!

Alors , qu'avez-vous pensé ?

RECIPE: Dortchen Wild's damson plum jam cake

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

To celebrate THE WILD GIRL being named Most Memorable Love Story of 2013 by Australian readers, I'm going to share some vintage Wild Girl posts this week - I hope you enjoy!


Last week I went to talk to a Book Club in Sydney that had read and loved my novel THE WILD GIRL. One of the club had cooked the damson plum jam cake that Dortchen Wild cooks for Wilhelm Grimm's birthday (the recipe was included in the Book Club reading notes in Australia - its an adaption from an old German recipe).

I cooked this cake a lot when I was writing THE WILD GIRL, but I had forgotten just how good it is. I thought I'd share the recipe with you all.

The picture of Damson Plum Jam comes from First Look, then Cook

Dortchen’s Recipe for Damson Plum Jam Cake 

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup damson plum jam

Preheat oven to 350C. Grease and line a loaf pan. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and salt. Beat the eggs and sugar until combined. Add the canola oil. Slowly beat in the flour mixture. Stir in the buttermilk. With a spatula fold in the cranberries and walnuts. Swirl in the jam in three to four strokes. Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes or until a cake testor comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 25 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack. Allow to cool for 5 minutes or so, then serve warm. This cake lasts a week well covered.

BOOK REVIEW: Lilla's Feast by Frances Osborne

Monday, July 15, 2013

Lilla’s Feast – A True Story of Love, War and a Passion for Food
, by Frances Osborne, is well named indeed. This book is indeed a feast for all the senses, telling the compelling life story of the writer’s great-grandmother who was born into a British colonial family in China towards the end of the nineteenth century. 

In the hundred years of her life, she survived the Boxer rebellion, the Japanese invasion and the Communist uprising, spending three years in a Japanese internment camp. Fighting terror, starvation and the bitter cold, Lilla consoled herself by writing a cookery book, typing it up on whatever odd bits of paper she could find. 

Her book recalls another age, containing recipes for jugged hare, cream puffs, galantine of beef, ox-foot soup, raspberry meringue. All while she and her fellow prisoners were subsisting on cabbage water soup and a tablespoon of rancid donkey meat – if they were lucky. By the end of the war, her book was a complete encyclopedia on how to live life well, which Lilla did for another half a decade. 

Lilla’s Feast is a fascinating book, filled with recipes, a wealth of illuminating historical detail, and the charming illustrations Lilla’s brother drew for her in the camp.

This review was originally published in Good Reading magazine. 

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