A LITTLE FOOD FLIGHT READING
GREG Duncan Powell’s ThePig,theOlive &theSquid (Murdoch Books, $36.95) is about the basic, rustic ingredients of cooking. Not packets of dried legumes or stand-by cans of beans in the staples cupboard, but the grape, the olive, chicken, pig, the lemon, and more; the ingredients and their humble beginnings.
Powell is the wine and drinks editor of VogueEntertaining+Travel , and a wine columnist. His interest in food stems from boyhood and has developed along rustic lines with strong overseas influences. This book focuses on dishes from humble origins, and on economic meals. Powell’s appearance on the cover dressed in what appears to be monk’s robes and sandals, emphasises this return to basics, but he is also pouring himself a goblet of wine. And the first chapter, The Grape, usefully summarises grape varieties grown in Australia and gives a brief look at the history of wine appreciation.
With chapters organised around Powell’s chosen ingredients, two or three pages give a condensed background history, followed by six or so recipes. These can be as basic as pasta with oil, garlic and parsley, or as interesting as empadas de galinha, chicken pies from the Portuguese province of Alentejo.
There are recipes from around the world: Spain, Italy, Greece, Thailand. Santiago lemon and almond cake, with its distinct Arabic overtones, looks intriguing. It originates in the pilgrims’ city of Santiago de Compostela (where, incidentally, the tempranillo grape variety is thought to have connections with pinot noir cuttings, brought by the early pilgrims from Burgundy).
Don’t be discouraged by Powell’s reality television-style get-up. The recipes and the appreciation of their ageold ingredients will be a worthwhile addition to the kitchens of beginner cooks, especially those weaned on prepackaged meals and fast food. AT the other end of the spectrum of responses to modern eating, LowGI Gluten-freeLiving:TheEssentialDiet andRecipeGuide, by Kate Marsh, Jennie Brand-Miller and Philippa Sandall (Hachette Australia, $35), has been written for those living with coeliac disease and diabetes. The book reveals that one in every 100 Australians and New Zealanders has coeliac disease. Many people with these serious, in some cases incurable, diseases follow gluten-free diets. Miller is a professor of human nutrition at the University of Sydney, and director of Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Services. Marsh, a dietitian and nutritionist, has suffered from diabetes since childhood and also has coeliac disease. The book’s introduction points out that conditions such as coeliac disease and diabetes can be treated through diet. There are explanations, ground rules and guidelines, and these sections are followed by more than 100 pages of recipes, concluding with detailed tables of foods, serving sizes and their GI and carbohydrate content.
Recipes are arranged under chapters for breakfasts and brunches (peachy pistachio porridge, for example, and ricotta, strawberry and banana wraps); snacks and treats (such as banana walnut loaf); light meals and lunches (corn and coriander fritters); salads and soups (Italian rice and lentil soup, pistachio and quinoa tabouli); mains (Moroccan seafood stew); desserts (coconut and lime macaroons) and basics (sauces, curry blends, vegetable mashes). These examples give an idea of the range of recipes in this serious book, but ingredients are the key. Judith Elen