Posts filed under ‘food’


This was a food theme group similar to a previous group on food we had several years ago. however this time we took only one book as the guide for our cookery.
The Grains Cookbook by Bert Greene

the idea was that we each pick a recipe from the book, or some other grain based recipe, and bring along that dish (and a matching wine). we had riceballs, corn soup, quinoa salad and armenian chicken with bulghur

why grain you might say – well if you read jared diamond or other ecological and/or economic historians, the history of grains is the history of humanity, the course of civilisations, the basis of capitalism and the fate of the planet.

how so – well they make surplus production possible, this means people become sedentary, cities develop, division of labor occurs, followed by the beginning of trade, then fully blown markets, and ultimately environmental destruction, globalisation and the whole kit and kabooble. once we started eating grain – about 10,000 years ago in a few different places on earth, our feet were set on the path to where we are now – or so the story goes.

but not bert greene’s story. he does give details about each grain, where it comes from, and how to use it etc, but his story is personal. it talks about how he met each grain, how he cooked for his dad as a kid, what he remembered of each grain when he first encountered it as a kid or later.

this aspect of the book prompted conversation within the group about the role of food in our lives as we grew up. it had an impact on me because i had never thought of the role of food in my childhood. rather i had thought i’d come from an un-foodie family but his stories made me realise we did do a lot of food preparation – making butter, killing chooks, stewing fruit, making chutney etc – including in relation to grain, eating fresh corn on the cob straight off the plant when it was green.

so that was interesting to be prompted to re-imagine our respective family food histories, also the food was lovely, and the company was great. i think the grain thing made it a fairly low key, comforting kind of occasion. for example we were all worried our food would be a bit stodgy and untasty, but it was all great.


July 10, 2010 at 7:15 am Leave a comment


this bookgroup’s theme was food. harmless enough you may think.

we initially agreed everyone would read their own book – on a food theme. then we agreed everyone would bring food related to their book. then when everyone arrived we decided to report on each book as we ate the food.

the result was outstanding, a new type of evening, a literary degustation menu. one of the best meals i’ve ever had, and a total sensory overload.

one bookgrouper compared the evening to a troop ship full of chocolate coated johnny depps, dipped in chilli, and sleeping in triple decker bunks. as far as i know that was not a recipe in anyone’s food book, at least no-one admitted to it anyway

– Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky. connected the history of salt with the history of the world particularly exploration and the colonial era, and how crucial it was to both
Dishes – Air-dried, salt-cured topside beef with avocado and parmesan cheese. Bacalao – Salt cod on Tomato & Garlic Confit.
wine – oyster bay sav blanc

– Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran – Set in the Irish town of Ballinacroagh where the local people discover the sensuous fragrances of cardamom, cinnamon, and saffron floating from The Babylon CafĂ©. The cafe is set up by the Aminpour sisters refugees from the Iranian revolution, one settling, one still running and another unsure of everything around her. Its a pleasant feel good holiday novel. It may be unfair but it feels like there is a formula in publishing these days; exotic country, romantic storyline and recipes. Is this a new genre?
dish – pomegranate soup
wine – society adelaide hills viognier

– clementine – about a french woman who went to the US and cooked recipes from home
dishes – white bean salad, eggplant a la turque
wine – bullers durif


– The Bittersweet World of Chocolate by Troth wells and Nikki Van der Gaarg. a history of chocolate from its south american origins in mayan and aztec cultures through the conquistadors via the enlightenment quaker families such as the cadburys and hersheys, into the modern chocolate we know today which was invented by mr lindt in the 1800s, to whom i am eternally grateful. however the main focus of the book is 20th century corporate greed and exploitation of poor equatorial cocoa farmers. the answer to which they say is for us all to buy fair trade chocolate, readily available from oxfam shops. save the world by eating chocolate – now that is a revolution to which everyone can sign up
– Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. classic mexican magical realism book/film featuring many of the same recipes as the above history. emphasises the power of the emotions of the cook whilst cooking to affect the emotions of the eater. if thats true we were all feeling good feelings when we cooked for bookgroup because the dishes had a happy contentment effect on us
dishes – chilli chocolate chicken mole which is chicken in a chocolate and chilli sauce, and chilli sin carne which is red kidney beans and onions in a chocolate and chilli sauce
wine – st halletts cab sav

– French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David. the original celebrity chef from the uk. who was doing back in the 40s what everyone does now with food. sounds like she was a super rich party girl with heaps of aristocratic friends, but she put it to good use, learning all the culinary secrets from the french cooks in her aristocratic friends french country houses/chateaux
dish – pear tarte followed by oceans of high quality chocolate
wine – society botrytis semillon

August 2, 2007 at 11:45 am Leave a comment


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