Eat your heart out Heston Blumenthal! A slightly meandering book review

Christmas in my family is about books, I’m not sure how common this is in other families but it’s not Christmas in my family if there is not a book or two in your stocking. As a kid this would be a prized copy of The Animals of Farthing Wood, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe ( the version with photos of the BBC production on the cover!) or a puzzle book. As a younger child it was a copy of a Read it Yourself Series, much better than today’s Oxford Reading Tree.

This Christmas was no different, I was given a copy of The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit

This book is satisfying heavy tome but not big enough to be intimidating. I first saw it reviewed in the London Review of Books and was excited to find a completely different type of cookbook. It has  had mixed reviews if you are looking for glossy photos or even pictures you are going to be disappointed. However if you are already a creative ( not necessary a great) cook in the kitchen you will find some refreshing ideas. The cover which shows a colour wheel gives a clue to the layout of the book. The book includes 99 different flavours, as Segnit explains the number 99 is arbitrary and has been chosen mainly to ensure that the book didn’t become too unwieldy. The flavours are then subdivided into categories such as earthy,sulphurous, creamy fruits and spicy. Each flavour is then paired with another flavour and is followed by a description of what the combination tastes like as well as interesting facts. My favourite include anchovy and olive “Like a couple of shady characters knocking around the port in Nice”. Cinnamon and squash, “sweeter than a basket of kittens sharing a lollipop. Delicious roasted together or paired in a soup” Presumably the cinnamon and squash not the kittens!

Cooking wise I have always like experimenting in the kitchen, if truth be told most of my cooking is a bit of an experiment as although I am surrounded by cook books I rarely follow recipes. I love using fruit in savoury meals, especially in stir fries. I prefer to make savoury dishes, with my main and pudding I make as banana split, which I know does not count. I’m not sure if I have made a cake since school, though I do love baking bread from scratch. Therefore for me any book which gives me a chance to add fruit to 99 different flavours and gives me even more of a free run of the kitchen is always going to tick lots of boxes in my book.

The book can be used as a reference guide or simply to dip in for some inspiration. A book to be curled up with while eating some really good and unusual food.

Coming next more books from my Christmas stocking.

Goddesses – A world of Myth and Magic

This is not a strictly a Christmas gift as I actually received it as a prize from Barefoot, but as I received it close to Christmas I have treated it as such. For those who have already read my competition entry you will know that I asked for ‘The Gift’ as a prize however as this book is out of stock ( as I write) due to the popularity Rob Ryan I was asked to give an alternative choice.

I chose instead Goddesses- A world of Myth and Magic. This is a book I have had my eye as though as I have been focusing my business initially on under 5’s I had not yet bought it myself. I was intrigued to read it as I had some interest from customers but more from a more personal reason, I felt it was a book I needed at the moment. I’m not sure if this has happened to anyone else but the need not just want of a book. I was attracted by the title cover of a beautiful goddess on the cover and the promise of something a little different. I have not been disappointed. The book is an alphabet of goddesses from all around the world. Some I am familiar with from Wicca, namely Ostara the goddess of spring, Athena the goddess of wisdom in Ancient Greece. Nike the winged maiden, where Nike the sports brand got its name sake. Others I had never heard of and yet others that although I knew the name I did not know them as goddesses. The most striking of these for me was Medusa as we know from are Greek myths she has always been portrayed as as the terrifying gorgon with a head of live writhing snakes that could turn men to stone. Perseus the greek hero killed Medusa and killed the monster. The book reminded me that it was out of Medusa’s blood that the winged horse Pegasus was born. It also reminded me to remember to look from situations from different angles ( or side ways). I have been inspired to find out more about this and will post more as I research.

Goddess is more than a children’s book and reminds us of the rich goddess culture from the past. Interesting although the book includes goddess from all around the world very few are included from the British isles with none from England, and some from Scotland, Ireland and Wales. I wonder if this is less of a admission on the author’s part but more of a reflection of the lose of myths within this country. Food for thought I think.



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