Be My Guest- Reflections on Food, Community and the Meaning of Generosity
A food memoir by award-winning writer Priya Basil. What’s a food memoir you ask? For starters, it’s definitely one of the more decadent genres of the literary world. A food memoir can be described as a collection of stories about our experiences of food and what it means to us.
Often I read stories of food being the glue that brings migrant communities together as a reminder of home, a celebration of culture and a common entity bringing new and old friends- good cookbooks that I think of are ‘Heirloom Kitchen: Heritage Recipes and Family Stories from the Tables of Immigrant Women’ or more famously well-known is Megan Markle’s endorsed cookbook ‘Together: Our Community Cookbook’.
Back to our book at hand! ‘Be Our Guest’ is a meditation on the menacing and limits of hospitality today.
The dinner table is where some of the best conversations about the world take place. Food is a curious dichotomy in which some have too much and others not enough but it is something that unites us all. Basil’s ‘Be My Guest’ explores hospitality across cultures.I’m taking my time with this book, dipping in and out as I feel inspired. I’m very intrigued by Basil’s flavour of writing- she uses her own heritage to describe the meaning of hospitality at the start of the book. Basil was born in London by is of Indian heritage and grew up in Kenya, she has a passion for food and is an esteemed writer, so you feel what she’s saying is worth your time.
Overall, I believe this book is good for the soul. As 2020 starts, I’ve noticed a growing trend in my friends commitments for the decade ahead- be more conscious of our eating habits and it’s impact on the environment. This is something I myself have taken on board for the new decade. I believe appreciating the act of eating together again, discarding the fast food mentality of convenience over effort and rather becoming aware of everything to do with what we eat- including where it comes from and what happens if we don’t finish it all can have enormous impacts on our empowerment for a brighter future.
I was beyond excited when I saw this book in the post from Murdoch Publications (: I love to bake and I love to decorate but quite frankly….I don’t think I’m very good.
This book is the latest by Caroline Khoo who is the creator of ‘Nectar and Stone’ and online dessert boutique.
So to have a book that is dedicated to styling cakes was a huge attraction for me. I trialled this book for Easter lunch and attempted two different cakes; a triple layer chocolate cake and a lemon and coconut cake. Modifications from the original recipes were made because….well….I ran out of time but the end result was great!
The main modifications I made was that each layer of each cake was suppose to be different but these differences mainly were simply different measurements (which I assumed were different cake tin sizes) because I was doing the old ‘slice and stack’ I disregarded it.
My triple-layer chocolate cake was a little bit of a disaster structurally but the wonders of ganache icing saved my bacon (METAPHORICALLY! NO BACON WAS USED IN THE MAKING OF THESE CAKES). It was incredibly rich and needed a big cup of tea to balance it perfectly….we were drinking champagne which may have been why were all couldn’t finish our slices….(:
The lemon and coconut cake was another layered cake but a little bit simpler. Personally, this was my favourite! I had to use flakes of coconut instead of desiccated coconut because when I went to the shops to get ingredients for my lemon and coconut cake….I forgot the coconut (reality 1, Vanessa 0) but it gave the cake a crumbly texture so no harm done! My only compliant would be the icing, it required using lard which gave it a very firm, thick texture when oxidised but it was a nice change from buttercream.
This is a delicious book! I’ll be doing a few more bakes before my review on ABC radio so I’ll keep you posted!
This book was reviewed on ABC radio’s 702 program ‘Overnights with Rod Quinn’ in 2016. Shoot me a message if you’d like to hear the full review (:
I was very excited to get this book because I love to cook but, frankly, cooking fish at home has always been a mission and I’ve never strayed beyond the standard salmon in a pan
This book is more than just a recipe book. It also gives you 100 different species of fish and seafood with their best uses, how to fillet and also photo identification
It gives you case studies on the best practice fisheries and fisherman in Australia
The authors of this book have expertise in different areas; John Susman is a renowned providore of seafood, Antony Huckstep is a chef and restaurant reviewer, Stephan Hodges is considered Australia’s best seafood chef and Sarah Swan is a chef and recipe developer
This book has great endorsement from famous Australian chefs such as Maggie Beer, Neil Perry and Dan Hong
Having tried some of the recipes it wasn’t as a difficult to try new types of seafood as I thought it would be
It’s a great cookbook to give as a gift to a foodie (:
Check out some of my tried recipes!