Usually new releases are either full of glossy pictures with celebrity chefs festooned on their covers delivering sometimes an over sumptuous visual feast or text rich, almost dour, practical tomes designed to educate rather than titilate.
To our surprise and pleasure, Love & Hunger is neither. Almost oddly positioned as neither a cookbook nor a polemical statement, 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.
Charlotte Wood is a highly regarded Australian novelist and journalist based in Sydney for whom food and its place at her table with family and friends is one of the most important parts of her life. 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.
Love & Hunger is beautifully and simply written (as one would expect from an author with such critical recognition; another of her novels, Animal People is currently listed for the 2012 Miles Franklin Award). 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. Wood’s scholarship is also in evidence (she is currently a PhD candidate looking at food in literature) as many of her accurate observations are elegantly woven into a gentle but compelling argument
If there is a criticism to be made, we would only want more….
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.”