Archive for the ‘non-fiction’ Category

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Quote of the week

May 16, 2009

mfk fisherOne of the reasons I love this blog is that you folks keep leading me to new discoveries I would never have found otherwise – like Hughesy’s and the Empress’s references to MFK Fisher, author of How to Cook a Wolf and Consider the Oyster, both of which I’m now on the hunt for.

Anyway, a little zip around the net looking for Ms Fisher revealed this lovely remark of hers, after the deaths of her beloved brother and husband within a few months of one another. As I’m reading a lot of books about bereavement at the moment for the Sydney Writers’ Festival next week, this quote struck me with particular force.

“One has to live, you know. You can’t just die from grief or anything. You don’t die. You might as well eat well, have a good glass of wine, a good tomato.”   

– MFK Fisher 

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Meals as emblems

April 22, 2009

waitingroomTwice in two weeks I have heard public readings from Gabrielle Carey’s new memoir, Waiting Room, about her mother Joan. Once was at the launch, and today was at Caroline Jones’ talk about her own new memoir about her dad, Through a Glass Darkly: A Journey Of Love And Grief With My Father.

Both memoirs are about an adult ‘child’ dealing with the illness of a strong-minded, forceful parent, and the unexpected grief that results. And both readings from Waiting Room – one from Gabrielle herself, the other from Jones apropos of her own strange adventures in grief and bereavement – were about food.

I was struck by these choices – the same passage, about  the kitchen, and I realised that some of the strongest writing in Waiting Room plays out in domestic duties, and in the inheritance of those routines of the kitchen, seemingly so commonplace, yet so resonant with symbolism. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Voyage round Fenella’s kitchen

April 15, 2009

peter-jugs-bowl1A couple of years ago I read a wonderful feature in the Good Weekend about cooking – it seemed to capture everything I felt about the pleasures of cooking – aside from the actual eating, that is!

The article, Voyage Round my Kitchen was by one of that mag’s star writers, Fenella Souter, and she has very kindly given me permission to reproduce it here. It’s a witty, moving and beautifully written exploration of the pleasures and consolations of cooking, and as a piece of food writing it’s gloriously untainted by the stink of fashion or snobbery or celebrity – depressingly common in Australian food writing I reckon (the Empress’s regular SMH Three of a Kind column excepted, I hasten to add!). The article is in a PDF file here that takes a little while to download, but be patient, it’s worth it.

A little taste:

As anyone who likes to cook knows, the kitchen is full of therapeutic pleasures. The familiar swift and competent movements of hand and knife; the invigorating beauty of a group of plump aubergines or elegant artichokes or voluptuous yellow quinces; the reassuring smell of frying onions or the yearning fragrance of poached peaches; the zen-like calm that descends as the cook oversees some delicate operation, for nothing focuses the mind like watching a custard thicken or caramel brown; the feeling of accomplishment, indeed of love, when all is done and the meal is laid on the table for the pleasure of others, or oneself.

I realise I’m painting a rather rosy picture here – relieved of such kitchen staples as boredom and resentment, griping children, grated fingers and burnt potatoes – but you get the drift. While cooking is not principally a cure for misery, it can cheer you up wonderfully. The Joy of Sex was a bestseller, but so was The Joy of Cooking. Ideally, one experiences both, but we may have underestimated the second as a helpful tool in life and marriage, even if the first is lacking. It’s surprising the subject doesn’t come up more in marriage counselling.

There’s lots more – just read it. You’ll love it.