LOVE & HUNGER:
Thoughts on the Gift of Food
Love & Hunger: Thoughts on the Gift of Food is a book about the emotional and symbolic meaning of cooking for people you love. It's a distillation of everything writer Charlotte Wood has learned over more than twenty years about 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.
Twenty-five personal essays range from the practical (how to chop an onion and the joys of chicken stock, for example) to the contemplative (e.g. the ethics of gushing about food in a world where millions are starving) to the consoling - cooking for the ill, bereaved or broken-hearted - to the celebratory, such as 'reclaiming the hostess gift' and beach holiday cooking.
To Charlotte, cooking is ‘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 leave you 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.
The title of the book comes from this paragraph, from MFK Fisher's The Gastronomical Me - which is the epigraph Charlotte has used for this book.
"It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it … and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied … and it is all one.
"Charlotte Wood's Love & Hunger: Thoughts on the Gift of Food is in the poetic corner. [Wood] writes beautifully about food. Partly it's because she has something to say about life, not just about food ... Wood's nimble food writing shifts seamlessly from the hotly contested topic of table-setting on one page to grappling with hunger on another. No philosophy, snobbery, one-upmanship, no competing with restaurant cooks. Just a lot of honesty and admission of failings, mistakes, triumphs and pleasures."
- Helen Greenwood, The Sydney Morning Herald
"In this wonderful cookbook-cum-literary memoir, novelist Charlotte Wood evokes memory and emotion as she explains why she loves to cook and what it means to her. Slotted in among the reveries are recipes as diverse as an Elizabeth David-inspired milk-cooked pork and the hedgehog slice of a childhood in Cooma. It's a book that's satisfying to mind AND stomach."
- FEAST magazine
"Charlotte Wood writes so openly about her cooking habits and history and her thoughts about the ethics of good eating that it’s impossible not to be swept up in her enthusiasm. Novice and experienced cooks alike will find something to inspire them here, as Wood has included a range of wonderful, tempting recipes. Reading Love & Hunger is like being invited into Wood’s home, seated at a table crowded with delectable dishes and encouraged to eat until you burst."
- Kylie Mason, The Newtown Review of Books
"This book has the power to reignite a passion for life, friendship, food and the everyday. Part memoir and part recipe book, Love & Hunger can be read cover to cover, as I did, just like a novel, or can be dipped into when the moment requires. Charlotte's unusual cook book is the wise friend many of us do not have ready at hand 24/7. Love & Hunger is a guide, an encouragement and an inspiration.
- John Purcell, Booktopia bookstore
"Love & Hunger manages to be a cookbook for the kitchen, a gentle read for the bedside table and a positive affirmation of the pleasure of cooking for family & friends ... This collection of 27 essays gently and sensitively explores the rich complexity and spiritual sustenance that good food with family & friends imparts to our lives. Each chapter explores, a different aspect of ‘the gift of food’ with a number of recipes ‘attached’; all of them good, none of them complex and many wonderfully comforting. There were many moments when reading, we nodded in heated agreement with the almost commonsense views espoused. As one other reviewer noted, it’s rare for a cookbook to move you to tears; be warned you may succumb. ... If there is a criticism to be made, we would only want more…"
- Tim White, Books for Cooks bookstore