In my late teens, my rowing crew decided to go lightweight. It was my introduction to the TJ Miracle Diet. Also known as the cabbage soup diet. Also known as the Dolly Parton diet. I don’t know how successful cabbage soup was for Dolly but for me, during regatta weeks, the diet worked alarmingly well (like 3-5kgs well). I’m quite sure that within twelve months I had done irreparable damage to my metabolism.My crew never had any success in the lightweight division.
Any time I see the details of diets that cut out whole food groups, or put foods in bizarre combinations, I’m taken back to the TJ Miracle Soup and the vile smell of overcooked cabbage. So it was with morbid curiosity that I read Rebecca Harrington’s I’ll Have What She’s Having. Harrington spent several months trialling celebrity diets, eating like Gwyneth, Beyoncé, Marilyn, Karl Lagerfield and more. Continue reading →
When you’re young, and you’re making decisions about school subjects and careers, there are inevitably pressures. For some kids, their passions line-up with family or social expectations. Lucky them. For others, expectations can steer them away from what they’d really, really like to be doing. I think we all know of that person who desperately wanted to be a carpenter or an artist or in advertising, yet they come from a ‘family of doctors’ and suddenly find their Year 12 dominated by chemistry and biology rather than graphic design. Personally speaking, I traded a Forestry degree for Environmental Planning – I think I probably would have ended up in the same place regardless but I can’t deny that my mum’s concerns about my being posted as a park ranger somewhere remote, didn’t go unheard. Continue reading →
Mãn by Kim Thúy is a slip of a novel but looks can be deceptive – it’s a rich, melancholy tale about belonging.
Mãn has three mothers: the one who gives birth to her in wartime, the nun who plucks her from a vegetable garden, and her beloved Maman, who scarifies all that she can for her daughter.
‘In the distance, in the warm light, she saw me, and I became her daughter. She gave me a second birth by bringing me up in a big city, an anonymous elsewhere, behind a schoolyard, surrounded by children who envied me for having a mother who taught school and sold iced bananas.’Continue reading →
If you’re looking for a memoir about exploring, ice and braving the extremities of Antarctica, then Alexa Thomson’s Antarctica on a Plate is not for you. Yes, there’s ice but the focus is on the challenge of cooking large quantities of food on a small stove, and the fact that in Antarctica you never run out of freezer space. Continue reading →
I’ve just finished a story about a chef who won his wife in a pool game; worked in the finest hotels in the world; saved hundreds of people from a fire; cooked for kings and queens; had affairs with high-profile women; fought in wars; lived apart from his wife for decades but spent his last months with her; coined a word (deliciousness/ umami); and revolutionised the way kitchens were set up and run.
Slicker, sharper and less sentimental than other books I’ve read by Kaui Hart Hemmings, her latest, How to Party With an Infant, makes for entertaining reading.
Recipe blogger, Mele Bart, is single mum to two-year-old Ellie. When she was pregnant, Mele’s boyfriend, Bobby, announced his engagement – to another woman (an artisan cheese-maker from the Napa valley). Bobby wants Ellie to be the flower-girl in his wedding and Mele reluctantly agrees.
To take her mind off the upcoming nuptials, Mele enters a recipe competition run by the San Francisco Mother’s Club. She uses cooking as therapy – for both herself and her own circle of ‘mummy friends’. As her friend Annie says, “Mele’s going to take your despair and turn it into cupcakes.” Continue reading →