“Food shouldn’t just be about the end result on a plate, or on a page in a book. The journey behind it should be just as important and as celebrated as the taste or it’s appearance.”
Wow, that sounds rather insightful doesn’t it. Not bad for something that just popped into my head! But after reading (yes reading) from beginning to end Marion Grasby’s debut entry into the rather competitive world of cookbooks with her “Marion – Recipes and stories from a hungry cook” you quickly build a platform that food is, and always will be a critical driver in her life.
From sharing her upbringing in Darwin, where she recalls her childhood with vivid clarity, right down to the smell of the sickly sweet over ripe mangoes, up to her thrust into the nation’s collective foodie eye with her popular appearance on “Masterchef Australia,” Marion sets the reader up for a journey, not just a typical collection of recipes, generically sorted into the usual cookbook. This book is very different to that. This personal touch, is what makes her cookbook stand out in my mind, and why I wanted this to be the first book I review for my blog.
From the get go, it’s obvious that Marion is a friendly, down to earth person, who loves a chat and has a genuine passion for food, and sharing the stories behind them. I was lucky enough to meet and have a bit of a chin wag with Marion a few weeks back at one of her book signings (at Westfield Marion, yup, meeting Marion at Marion, who’dathunkit. Anybody want to meet Daniel at Daniel??) and she immediately struck me, simply by the amount of time that she spent with each fan that arrived to meet her, as a very genuine person. No, this is not a suck up towards her, I’ve met with a few people of reasonably high celebrity, which I won’t name, but lets put it this way, they were nearly inside out they were that far up their own, well, you know what. This definately isn’t the case here. Marion’s personable and friendly nature is expressed throughout her book. She writes as if she was speaking to you, there is not a hint of pretentiousness about her, and you can sense the genuine excitement she has about her recipes, and sharing the varied and interesting stories behind them.
Each recipe has a personalised description outlining either a hint or tip, or why the particular combination means something to her. This I feel is something that once again separates Marion’s book from the rest. You really get an understanding as to why the recipe was picked. If gives you a subconscious level of comfort, so you don’t feel like you are reading a cookbook that you will have to practice and practice each recipe, nor feel intimidated by them. This is real food for real people, who are more interested in wholesome, practical food, rather than Michelin stars. It would provide someone with a new interest in food, a great starting point in their food education. The recipes range from some very simple offerings, up to some that are slightly more technically challenging, and that ultimately could serve the reader as a challenge that they could steel themselves towards completing as their experience and confidence in the kitchen builds. Even though some of the ingredients in some of her recipes could be considered exotic, there are always alternatives offered that can be picked up at your local market, or even supermarket.
Putting my design hat back on, the book is laid out very well, with all pages set out in a manner that is easy to read, and when referencing mid cook up, you can easily see where you left off. The images used in each recipe are well balanced, and presented in such a way that when you come to plating up, the average cook could achieve a similar result. It’s pretty obvious she loves pink, which in some instances can be a little hard to read on some pages, but, that’s just me being an ultra picky bastard. Us designers are known for that. Damn perfectionists.
I feel that Marion wrote this book to be more so a story primarily, with a cookbook thrown in for good measure, which I think is a balance that helps her stand out. I have seen cookbooks written in a somewhat similar nature, but not with the same level of success, and personalisation as this. Limiting the book to around 80 recipes I feel is also a smart move, as she then can dedicate time to each offering she picked, and really give the reader a depth of understanding, and an insight to her journey behind the recipe. If her self imposed brief was to create a book that shared as much herself as her food, place the reader in a relaxed and curious mindset and finally to give the individual some great recipes to share on family and friends, then she’s nailed it.
If you want to learn more about Marion, visit her at www.marionskitchen.com.au and yes, her site looks better than mine, by a fair margin… Better still, get yourself into a bookstore and buy yourself a copy. It’ a cracker.
“Wok and Woll!”