Friday, November 13, 2009
Greek Cookery from the Hellenic Heart
You know how it is. Limited time and budget, but you need to get your teeth into something.
That's how I was feeling the other day in the bookshop, equivocating between two Australian authors, Matt Preston (Cravat-a-licious), who is now a contender for Australia's sexiest man, and George Calombaris, who also has a bit of a ladies fan club.
Fame can do that for you.
It can also make people want to be connected to you in some way, like the bookseller who proudly informed me that he went to the same school as Calombaris (Mazenod College).
Sorry Matt, perhaps next time.
I wanted Greek Cookery from the Hellenic Heart from the moment I flipped through a couple of pages. Dean Cambray's photography grabs you by the goolies with mouth watering food shots interspersed with action photos that bring this book to life.
But more than that, the Heart in the title is no empty promise, with references to family, friends and home, and one chapter a dedication to his mother Mary's cooking skills which imbued the young George with a passion for food, even if she did suggest that he get an office job instead!
Very often, Greek cookery seems like a franchise; eat at one Greek restaurant and it's like you've eaten at them all: Calombaris has worked hard to avoid the cliche with inventive takes on many dishes. It can be risky to mess around with classics - his somewhat infamous souvlaki, which appears here, a case in point - for the most part though, the Calombaris' recipes are ones you will want to recreate.
For me, the very best cookbooks are the ones that draw you in with their personal touch, which let you in to the author's world, giving an understanding of the influences that have shaped the recipes. Such books are rare and to be treasured.
Footnote: When I showed this book to my wife, she looked slightly aghast and said,
"You don't like him."
"That's not true, I just didn't agree with a few things he's said and one dish he's cooked. It's not a sin to have an opinion, especially for a Greek."
That's why they have tavernas, to sort things out, over food and drink, maybe with a little Zorba.
Labels: Book review